When I worked in the juvenile products industry, I worked for one of the most amazing mompreneurs in the business, Brenda Berg. I was the fourth full time employee of Brenda's company Scandinavian Child, which imports and distributes the best high chair on the market, the Svan Chair. I have known and worked with Brenda for the last five years and I could write a whole post just about how hard working, intelligent, and most importantly, kind she is.
But that's not what this post is about. Brenda has recently accepted the Chairmanship of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) Board of Directors for 2010/2011. Her leadership in the JPMA has helped Brenda develop a vast range of product safety knowledge and a passion for sharing that knowledge with parents. When asked for her top safety tips for parents and caregivers, she provides five steps parents and caregivers can take to help keep children safe:
1) Look for the JPMA Certification Seal: “Parents assume that if it is on the store shelf that it has been safety tested, but that’s simply not true of all products. While there are universally accepted safety standards, they are not mandatory and there are many products on the market that do not meet these standards.”
2) Safety First: "As basic as this sounds, READ THE WARNINGS and heed their advice because a lot of thought went into the potential for harm if the product is not used correctly. For example, fasten furniture to walls, keep your child's sitting and sleeping spaces away from curtain cords, do NOT place a bouncer on a table (they bounce!), and do not leave a child unattended in a high chair.”
3) Safe Sleep: "This is the one time of day when your child is not attended because, hopefully, you are sleeping too. Be extra careful in regards to crib safety, leaving infants in car seats for extended periods and issues with co-sleeping," she implores. JPMA has a terrific downloadable pamphlet called “Safe and Sound,” which provides detailed information. You can also find safe sleep tips at First Candle’s website.
4) Do your homework: "Look behind the label to find out more about the manufacturer and their practices. Poor quality and false claims can be found everywhere. If you want to be sure, contact the manufacturer to ask about their procedures.” When talking to any manufacturer, some questions might include:
a. Do your products meet the ASTM safety standards (if there is a relevant standard)? The key here is that you may not know what ASTM standards do/not exist for various categories and, in some cases, the manufacturer or sales rep may not know either.
b. Do your products meet the mandatory CFR standards for lead paint, strangulation, small parts, sharp points, and all other laws?
c. Do you conduct random testing either through the JPMA random retail testing program (under JPMA certification) or by yourself?
5) Children’s health and development: “In addition to looking for products that meet safety standards, it’s also important to look for products that are best for children’s development. This means looking for products that are more natural and ergonomic. It’s important to support children’s development with products designed to support crucial areas such as their neck and spine. www.HealthyChild.org is an excellent source for information on creating healthy environments where children and families can flourish.”
For more information on product safety and tips, Brenda recommends JPMA’s THE PARENTHOOD, the organization’s online community for moms, dads, grandparents and other caregivers, which offers comprehensive information on creating safe environments for children.
Through my time working as Scandinavian Child's Product Manager, I learned a great deal about child product safety. Do you have any questions regarding child and baby product safety? Leave me a comment and I will do my best to answer any questions either via email or here on my blog.