There’s a picture of me at around age one, propped up in a green baby walker with a big grin on my face. “You loved it!” my mother is fond of saying, followed by the story of how I used this particularly treacherous product to fall down a (small) flight of stairs. Apparently I wasn’t the only one—there were enough injuries from these walkers that by the time I had my own baby, 30-odd years later, they were banned in Canada. But this required a huge campaign over many years. “It’s really difficult to make a product unavailable to consumers,” says Claude Cyr, a paediatrician in Sherbrooke, Que., who works on the Canadian Paediatric Society’s Injury Prevention Committee. Cyr explains that a ban can only be implemented when the product in question is dangerous when used as directed, not just under some circumstances.
Plus, banning is usually the last step in a comprehensive strategy, after educating the public about the product and introducing new guidelines for manufacturers to follow, says Cyr.
As a result, there are plenty of baby products sold in Canada that still pose hazards for your little one, especially if you’re not using them correctly. “A couple of years ago, a medical student did a project with me where he went around to stores selling baby stuff in Calgary and the displays were a million miles from what we recommended,” says Ian Mitchell, a paediatrician at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and a professor of paediatrics at the University of Calgary.
Here are 11 products currently on store shelves with the highest potential to be dangerous, depending on how you use them.
Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Soothing Seat
Fisher-Price's popular US product, the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, was recalled on April 12, 2019 after an investigation by Consumer Reports linked the inclined sleeper to 32 deaths—but it's still available in Canada, all because of labelling. Health Canada says the Canadian version of the product, the Rock ‘n Play Soothing Seat, is still available because it was never marketed as a sleeper here. “Health Canada is aware of the Fisher Price Rock ’n Play Soothing Seat,” a spokesperson said in an email. “Since this seat is not intended for sleep, it is not subject to the Cribs, Cradles and Bassinets Regulations,” they said, adding that the department has not received reports of any health and safety incidents regarding the product in Canada between June 20, 2011, and April 15, 2019.
Paediatrician Michael Dickinson, speaking on behalf of the Canadian Paediatric Society, says it’s “crazy” that this seat is still available to Canadian parents. “We know that babies in the United States are identical to the babies here in Canada. We know that Canadian parents are probably going to use the device similarly to how it was used in the United States. It makes no sense that a device that has already been recognized as potentially harmful, lethal to babies would be allowed to be sold and distributed in Canada.”