Baby Gear and Bath Seats
5. Hand-Me-Down Baby Gear
The danger: Used toys and baby equipment may have broken or missing parts, or may not meet current safety regulations. They also usually come without the packaging that gives age recommendations and instructions for safe use. Jamie Schaefer-Wilson, author of The Baby Rules: The Insider's Guide to Raising Your Parents, recalls placing her 12-month-old daughter in a friend's high chair that didn't have the correct safety straps or the bar between her legs. "Before we knew it, she started to slip down, and her head and neck became wedged between the tray and the high chair. Fortunately we caught her in time, or she could have been seriously injured."
Safe strategy: Before using old toys, high chairs, swings, or other hand-me-downs or secondhand items, carefully inspect them for damaged or missing parts. Make sure that strings, straps, and cords are no longer than 7 inches. Visit cpsc.gov to find out whether the item has been recalled and to check it against current safety standards. Don't let your child play with decades-old metal or painted toys, which may contain poisonous lead.
6. Bath Seats and Rings
The danger: Bath seats and rings help a baby sit up in the tub, but they can be a drowning hazard if you leave your baby alone for even a few seconds. The suction cups on the bottom can suddenly release and allow her to tip over, or she can slide between the legs and become trapped underwater. Between 1983 and 2003, 106 babies drowned because they were left unattended in bath rings or seats, according to the CPSC.
Safe strategy: Don't let bath seats or rings give you a false sense of security. Always stay within arm's reach when your baby's in the tub, and make sure her other caregivers do the same. "Bath seats and rings are not safety devices," Dr. Manno says.