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National law firm Slater and Gordon is urging parents to be wary of potentially dangerous and harmful baby products promoted as sleep-safe or sleep-inducing via social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

Animal shaped plush pillows for babies to sleep with, suspended cots and hammocks, nests and cocoons advertised on social media could potentially restrict an infant’s ability to breathe or cause them to overheat. Poorly designed infant sleep bags, mattress support pads and comforters with detachable choking hazards are just some of the unsafe products deemed unsafe and recalled by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recently.

Slater and Gordon Public Liability Practice Group Leader Lily Boskovski said more could be done to prevent babies aged 0-12 months dying while sleeping or in the sleeping environment, following statistics showing sudden infant deaths, including fatal sleeping accidents were on the rise in Australia.

“It is best to check that the sleeping products you are purchasing from social media platforms, whether new or second hand, are actually safe products. Some of the advertising directed at expecting parents claims that the products are sleep-safe or even claim to help your baby sleep. The product might be being promoted by influencers in America or elsewhere but Australian families are buying these products and using them here, believing they are safe. It’s important to realise other countries have different safety standards,” Ms Boskovski said.

“While the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a cot, many parents are using bassinets for newborns for the first few months, until they develop the ability to roll. There is currently no Australian Standard for bassinets and many parents, especially new ones are not aware of this.

“Some parents are buying second hand bassinets online or from Facebook marketplace and are not aware they need to check the mattress is well fitted and that there is not too much of a gap between the mattress and the side of the cot.”

Ms Boskovski said fatal sleeping accidents that occurred due to unsafe products used in the sleeping environment were preventable and that companies producing many of these products could be doing more to prevent deaths and save lives.

“Many of the so-called sleep-friendly or sleep-safe products being advertised online should not be being produced in the first place. It’s a total tragedy that any baby should die over a sleep related issue in this day and age. It’s best to check the ACCC’s advice before buying infant and nursery products and to ensure you are using the products correctly and for the correct period of time, considering the child’s age. Consumer group Choice recently reviewed which bassinets are rated as being the safest,” Ms Boskovski said.

“Avoid having any toys, pillows, blankets or padding in the cot or bassinet. There is a risk of infants rolling into or being covered by items like this.”

In 2018, more than 3000 babies and young children died, including 112 classified as sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) including fatal sleeping accidents, a 20 per cent increase on previous years.

For safe sleeping advice visit Red Nose’s Safe Sleep Advice Hub. For more information on Red Nose Day, to raise awareness for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), pregnancy and baby loss, visit: www.rednose.org.au


Media Contact Anna Chisholm (03) 9602 8683/ 0437 801 093