Instagram is full of brilliant inspiration for new parents, with many following the lead of their favourite influencers as they put together the perfect nursery for their newborn.
But consumer advocate CHOICE says that by taking decorating inspiration from social media influencers some parents may be unwittingly putting their child in harm’s way.
Better safe than stylish?
CHOICE’s head of household testing Kim Gilmour says that her organisation has spotted a number of trends that are simply unsafe, and that it makes sense to avoid many design ideas and keep little people safe.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” Kim says noting that these risky choices are easy to spot on Instagram. Throws, sheepskins, burning and soft toys are often spotted inside baby’s cots. “These are basic things that shouldn’t really be in a newborn’s environment.”
That’s not to say you can’t use these items in safer ways, but supervision is key – and away from the baby’s sleep environment is vital.
Kim notes that babies can get very hot if left to sleep unsupervised on a sheepskin in their cot.
“And that’s just one of the dangers when it comes to safe sleeping,” she says.
“Really there shouldn’t be anything soft in the cot. So soft toys, sheepskins, cot bumpers all that kind of stuff. It’s something that you see in these Instagram photos and something that parents aspire to put in their nurseries. But when it comes down to it simple is the best way.”
There are plenty of examples of not just unsafe sleep environments, but unsafe nurseries in general.
“We see cots being placed next to windows where there are blind cords,” Kim says. “Things like open windows … there are things like canopies and fairy lights. These are strangulation hazards and suffocation hazards.”
Safer nurseries 101
So how can you make sure your nursery is safe and that your child is not in harm’s way? CHOICE has a lot of advice:
Keep above the cot clear
“Whether it’s a mirror, framed print, wall hanging or custom-name plate, the wall space directly above the cot is rarely left bare in nursery images,” CHOICE says.
This means avoiding the use of things like cot canopies, or any fabric draped over the baby’s bed.
“I’ve treated a baby who used a mosquito net to pull up to stand, and ended up wrapping it around her neck,” Dr Ruth Barker, a paediatrician and director of the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit told CHOICE.
“Luckily, her mother came into the room and found her dangling from the net before it was too late.”
Secure nursery furniture
Falling furniture is responsible for hundreds of injuries to children every year.
“Any furniture in the nursery should be fixed or bracketed to the wall, especially if it’s within arm’s reach of the cot,” CHOICE advises.
Position cots away from windows
Windows are not only dangerous because babies can climb out of their cot and possibly out the window, but they can also mean that potential strangulation hazards like blind cords and curtains are within reach.
Be careful with lights
Clearly fairy lights are a strangulation risk, but some nursery lights may also feature button batteries which can cause catastrophic injuries if swallowed by children.
Avoid decorative throws
CHOICE warns that small babies can suffocate under loose blankets.
“Any blankets should be tucked in tightly around the foot end of the mattress to stop them riding up and covering the baby’s face,” they remind parents.
No bunting, please
Bunting may look festive, but it’s a strangulation hazard, and should really be kept out of nurseries – even when children are out of the baby stage.
Pillows, bumpers and soft toys
These items are all best kept out of your child’s cot, despite what those stylish Instagram photos might suggest. They’re suffocation hazards and having them in the cot is contrary to safe sleeping guidelines for vulnerable babies.
Soft sleep pods have no place in the cot or near a sleeping baby, CHOICE advises. While they might look pretty, they’ve sadly been responsible for a number of infant deaths.
“Babies can suffocate if their face becomes pressed against a sleep pod or positioner. US agency CPSC has reported 12 deaths over 13 years related to sleep positioners,” CHOICE reports.
Wicker baskets and Moses baskets
There’s no Australian safety standard for bassinets, and wicker Moses baskets can come with dangerous rough edges or ill-fitting mattresses which put babies at risk. These sorts of baskets can pose a suffocation risk or create a falling risk and are an unsafe choice.
You can find out much more about how to avoid unsafe nursery trends and decorate your nursery with your baby’s safety in mind at CHOICE.
Top image via CHOICE