'Tragedies waiting to happen': Baby products being sold online putting infants at risk

ITV News has been investigating the safety of baby products being sold online

An ITV News investigation has found items being sold online which may pose a risk to babies.Health professionals are warning parents to take care when shopping online and have told us they are concerned about various products, ranging from sleep accessories to certain types of toys and teethers.We commissioned an exclusive survey of health visitors from across the UK. We found 88% had come across parents using unsafe baby products, while 97% said they were concerned about the availability of these products in the UK.

To investigate, we purchased a range of baby products from third-party sellers on three major online marketplaces, including a cot bumper, a sleep nest, a sleep positioner, a swaddle blanket, a dummy clip and a teething necklace.

We arranged for them to be looked at by a panel of experts from the Child Accident Prevention Trust, The Lullaby Trust and the Institute of Health Visiting.The products have not been independently tested in a laboratory but, from their initial assessment, the experts felt they were unsuitable and potentially unsafe.Katrina Phillips OBE, Chief Executive of Child Accident Prevention Trust, described them as “potential tragedies waiting to happen”.

She said: “I feel really worried about it. Parents tell us that they think things that they’re buying online from online marketplaces have been independently tested and certified safe, and that isn’t necessarily the case if you’re buying from an overseas seller on an online marketplace.”Jenny Ward, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust, said: “It’s very worrying and also quite sad because there’s a lot of money being spent on products that are not needed for a baby.”

Reporter Lauren Hall shows a selection of baby products to a panel of experts

We shared our findings with the three online marketplaces. Two have removed the items and told us they’re preventing the sale of similar ones. The other website says “safety is a top priority” and it requires all products to “comply with applicable laws and regulations”.The third-party seller of the sleep nest says “safety is of the utmost importance”, adding its products are made to “the highest industry standards” and “undergo regular testing”. It has now updated the online description so customers know how to use it safely.The third parties who sold us the swaddle blanket and dummy clip have not commented on our findings. We have been unable to contact any of the other sellers or manufacturers.The Lullaby Trust is a charity which promotes sleep safety and raises awareness of sudden infant death syndrome. It warns parents to keep cots clear and to avoid products such as cot bumpers, sleep nests and sleep positioners. The advice is to just use a firm, waterproof mattress and some lightweight blankets or a baby sleeping bag.Lisa Gee has been campaigning for ten years to raise awareness of the dangers of cot bumpers. Her son, Preston, died when he was nine-months-old.

Preston died when he was nine-months-old.

He was found in his cot - the fabric of a cot bumper had torn and wrapped around his neck.

An inquest could not determine the cause of Preston’s death, but his parents blame the cot bumper which had been bought online as part of a bedding set.

“I just want, more than anything, for his death to have meant something,” his mother told us.

“I always swore that I would never pick up the paper again and see that it’s happened again and that it would be because I said nothing.”

Preston's parents believe his death was caused by a cot bumper

She told us she was concerned by the findings of our investigation and is keen to raise awareness among parents.

Ms Gee added: “I feel awful for them because they’re buying something and assuming that it’s safe because it’s sold, but they could be unknowingly putting their baby in danger every single day and it’s worrying, and it’s scary, and it’s not fair, and it’s not right.”

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