Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has found shocking 'safety failures' in several bassinets assessed in its latest testing.
Five of the eight models tested - each newly released to the market, failed 'key safety requirements'. Surprisingly, of those tested, the cheaper products were found to be safer.
CHOICE also highlighted that there is not currently an Australian safety standard for bassinets, as there is for cots.
Among the 'serious safety failures' CHOICE said they identified were potential choking and suffocation hazards, potential head and limb entrapments, 'insufficiently' firm mattresses and sharp wicker splinters.
Among the five models identified by choice as failing their testing, which ranged in price from $199 up to $399, are:
- 4baby Serenity
- 4baby Sleep and Stay
- Collective Sol Lyla
- Grotime Bebe
- Quirky Bubba Sienna Cradle
While the three that passed their testing - ranging from $99-$199, include:
- Childcare Alora
- Childcare Lullabye
- Tasman Eco Venice
As part of their 'in-house' testing procedures, CHOICE assessed the products against existing standards for cots (and folding cots), as well as international safety standards.
They looked at safety issues such as potential choking hazards - including any small objects that could become loose and if they had any sharp corners or points. As well as the breathable zones, such as mesh walls and their placement. And checked if bassinets were at least 250mm deep - basing this off the existing standard for folding cots, to prevent falls.
The strength of the bassinet (both vertical and horizontal) was also tested to see how it performed under a 10kg weight. Entrapment hazards and the firmness of mattresses were also looked at.
Products given a rating above 60 per cent received a pass, while those with one serious failure were given a 40 per cent rating and those with more than one serious failure just 20 per cent.
CHOICE's Kim Gilmour, who specialises in baby products, warned unsafe models put babies at risk.
"Unfortunately, there's currently no mandatory Australian safety standard for bassinets like there is for cots," Ms Gilmour said. "This means that year after year we continue to see unsafe bassinets make it onto the shelves."
"These major safety failures reiterate the need for a new product safety law, which CHOICE continues to campaign for. This new law would stop unsafe products from ever hitting the market in the first place."
Of particular concern to CHOICE were the wicket bassinets (Quirky Bubba Sienna Cradle and Collective Sol Lyla), Ms Gilmour added.
"The handmade nature of these products means you do get these frayed bits of wicker breaking off in the form of sharp splinters, which can then pose a potential choking hazard," she explained.
"In addition, our testers found the large gaps in the wicker can also pose head or limb entrapment hazards where a child could get stuck."
Another risk identified was the suffocation warning label in the 4Baby Sleep and Stay bassinet - the placement of which made it a suffocation hazard in itself, as it blocked the breathable material. The mattress, found to be insufficiently firm, also posed a suffocation risk, CHOICE said.
Baby Bunting, who sell the 4Baby Sleep and Stay and 4Baby Serenity models told CHOICE they 'respectfully disagreed' with their findings.
"As you know, there is no Australian Standard for Bassinets. Baby Bunting's approach is to require its suppliers to ensure their products comply with the US or European safety standards – being countries that have standards for bassinets and a similar approach to safety as Australia," they said in a statement to the consumer group.
"The 4Baby Serenity Bassinet and 4Baby Sleep and Stay Bassinet have been independently tested by an accredited laboratory to confirm that the [products] comply with the American Standard ASTM F 2194-16e1 & 16CFR 1218."
The results follow similar testing in 2019 in which 24 of the 33 bassinets tested by CHOICE also failed key safety requirements.
According to Red Nose, parents who choose to use a bassinet should:
- Choose one with a sturdy bottom and wide, stable base
- Ensure all four sides are 300mm above the top of the mattress (to reduce the risk of falls)
- Check if has a firm, flat mattress no thicket than 75mm and that this is the correct size for the bassinet model
- Opt for one with good 'breathability zones' on each side