In 2015, I was expecting my first baby. At 28 weeks, I spent five hours walking the aisles of what was then known as Babies’R’Us.

It was a gigantic baby store filled with hundreds of items! I used this time to read about as many products as I could to better understand why a baby needed so much stuff! Well, come to find out products for babies and toddlers are as varied as those for adults. There are at least six brands for each item you want to purchase.

As you prepare your registry, you begin to feel the weight of this new responsibility in choosing safe products for your child. Buying new comes with a quality assumption—this should work as designed. Family and friends are eager to pass along a “gently used” car seat, stroller, or baby crib. How can you ensure what you use is safe?

Check with the Experts

Do you notice how often there are recalls of infant and toddler foods and products? If not, this is a good time to become more aware of the frequency. A recall occurs when the government and/or the manufacturer removes a product from being sold in the market because it may pose a risk of serious harm. In addition to the recall, the manufacturer often offers a way to either get your money back or provide an alternate product or remedy.

Thankfully, safety recalls don’t expire. Each year, more than 100 children’s products are recalled. If you’re curious about whether an item you own has ever been recalled, you can look it up at the Consumer Product Safety Commission ( and sign up for email alerts.

Your Partners in Children’s Product Safety

There are several agencies that notify the public about product recalls, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). These organizations also provide safety tips and information to keep your children safe.

NHSTA – Road and Travel Safety

The NHTSA is responsible for keeping people safe on America’s roadways. In addition to car seat safety, this agency offers tips and information about the dangers of traveling in a vehicle; these include:

  • Heatstroke that can occur when an infant or child is left in a hot vehicle
  • Being run over when a vehicle is backing away from a driveway or parking space
  • Power windows, that may close on a child’s finger, wrist, or hand
  • Seat belt entanglement if the belt gets wrapped around a child’s head, neck, or waist
  • Trunk entrapment if the trunk is left open and unattended
  • Rollaway and rollover if a vehicle is not shifted into park

Always be on alert. Children should never be left alone in or around a vehicle.

FDA – Food and Medicine Safety

The FDA helps ensure food and medical products are safe when used by children and sets the standard for product labels that share information about any risks. This agency recognizes that a child’s body is developing and has unique needs. The FDA provides updates on products including:

  • Sunscreen
  • Vaccinations
  • Pain medications
  • E-liquids used in vape products
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Head lice
  • Infant formula
  • Epinephrine to treat severe allergic reactions
  • Tobacco

CPSC – Product Safety

The CPSC helps reduce injuries and deaths by developing standards for manufacturers and businesses, announcing recalls, and banning products if harmful to the public. They’re your partner in selecting products for your baby because they’re neutral and they don’t endorse specific brands. The CPSC oversees:

  • Playgrounds
  • Bicycles, e-bikes, e-scooters, and hoverboards
  • Toys and crafts
  • Fire safety and carbon monoxide devices
  • Magnets
  • Cribs and safe sleep
  • Pools
  • Clothes and accessories
  • Poison prevention
  • Window coverings
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Sports and fitness

I’m now a mother of three children and I try to be pretty smart about the products that I purchase for them and use on a daily basis. I read the instructions, keep the product manual, and register everything I can with the manufacturer. I’m vigilant and don’t let my guard down. If you suspect a product that you have been given or use with your child is a danger, reach out to any of these agencies to report the incident. Each of these agencies provides a way for consumers to sign up for recall and product alerts, as desired.

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Brea N. Onokpise, MPH, LCCE, MCHES®, is Associate Director of Publications at AWHONN and a Lamaze-certified childbirth educator in the Washington, DC area.

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