Safe sleeping for infants

11 Mar 2010

Fair Trading Minister Peter Lawlor has urged all new parents to be aware of safe sleeping advice when deciding on their baby’s sleeping arrangements.

His comments follows the New South Wales government’s announcement that it has ordered a review into the safety of baby hammocks.

This follows two reported fatalities in the United States which were linked to the products.

Mr Lawlor said the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) welcomed the inquiry - although his department had received no complaints.

“The Office of Fair Trading is unaware of any safety incidents in Queensland in relation to baby hammocks.

“However care-givers are urged to show caution when considering sleeping arrangements for a baby.

“The safe sleeping advice for infants is generally to use a full-sized cot that complies with the Australian Standard as a permanent sleeping arrangement for an infant.

“The mattress needs to be tight fitting and firm so that it will not contour round a child’s face. Portable cots should not be used for permanent sleeping arrangements.

Mr Lawlor said there was no Australian Standard for baby hammocks so consumers need to be extra cautious when buying these products.

“As these products appear to be gaining in popularity the OFT favours the development of an Australian Standard and will work with their NSW counterparts to achieve this,” he said.

“If parents choose a hammock (or other sleep-related product) they should only buy from a reputable trader who can provide assembly advice and back up service.

“Consumers also need to follow assembly instructions closely. Products such as hammocks need to be checked regularly to ensure the mattress base remains level and that the suspension mechanism remains in good condition.

“If you buy something from an internet trader you may not be able to see the product fully assembled prior to purchase. Therefore you need to check on the traders return and refund policy if the product does not suit your circumstances.

Any safety claims made need to be able to be backed and consumers need to make enquiries prior to buying the product. If consumers think they have been misled particularly about the safety of a product the need to report the matter to the Office of Fair Trading.

The OFT’s Product Safety Unit is keen to get consumer feedback on the use of baby hammocks and would welcome feedback from parents and caregivers that have used baby hammocks in the past. The Unit is also keen to hear from anyone whose child suffered an injury in a baby hammock. Further research will be undertaken and provided to the NSW government enquiry.


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Minister’s office contact: (07) 3225 1005