When you’re a new or expecting parent, there seems to be a hidden danger around every corner. The paint on your walls. The melon in your fruit salad. The soap in your dispenser...
But how do you go about ensuring the safety of yourself, your baby and your family, without sending yourself into a self-inflicted bubble of madness? We have rounded up the most important safety considerations for new parents, and have shared our top picks of products to ensure you and your family are safe, secure and can rest easy when (or if) your head hits the pillow.
When I purchased my last car (before children came along), I was … How should I put this? Easy to please. It needed to be black and it needed satellite navigation. Fast forward to shopping for a new car to accommodate my three children (and the three car seats that accompany them), and my list of requirements are infinitely more complex. As well as needing to have enough space to fit my children, the double pram and the unending bags of shopping, safety features have been at the absolute top of my list.
Ask any parent who has ever known the feeling of driving a new baby home from the hospital, and they will be acutely aware that only the best will do when it comes to car safety and children. Which is where Volvo comes into play. Their reputation does precede them, having been known for decades as the safest car brand on the market – in 1959 Volvo Cars revolutionised car safety with the three-point safety belt (it’s estimated to have saved more than one million lives globally). Sixty years on, the company has announced another breakthrough with its plan to share more than 40 years of research to help make cars safer for everyone through their Project E.V.A. initiative.
In news that will no doubt shock you as it did me, most car manufacturers test their automobiles using male crash test dummies alone. Which means that they are being made for – and are safe solely for – men.
Volvo has always been ahead of the game here. In 1998, Volvo Cars introduced the WHIPs whiplash protection system. It was a technology developed through the use of virtual crash-test dummies based on actual crash data – as well as studies that highlighted the differences in anatomy and neck strength between the average man and woman. They showed women are more likely to suffer from whiplash injuries.
Volvo recognizes that both women and men are drivers and passengers of their cars, and they test their vehicles accordingly. With a variety of sizes, genders and body shapes tested, it means that their cars are – quite literally – safer for everyone. What’s more, the company is also sharing this valuable data with the industry at large, to encourage change across the industry.
“We have data on tens of thousands of real-life accidents, to help ensure our cars are as safe as they can be for what happens in real traffic,” explains Lotta Jakobsson, professor and senior technical specialist at Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “This means our cars are developed with the aim to protect all people, regardless of gender, height, shape or weight, beyond the ‘average person’ represented by crash test dummies.”
This type of information meant that a Volvo (an XC90) is a no-brainer for families looking for a people-mover. Our third boy has just arrived so we’re looking to upsize our car and I’ll be reviewing this car on the site soon – stay tuned!
The car seat
Having carried over 50 million baby’s home from hospital, Maxi-Cosi is a tried and tested Grace Tales brand. The baby capsule features award-winning safety innovations and is certified with airplane compliance so you can travel safely with your baby, in a car, on a train, as part of a travel system on a pram, and on a plane. We’ve moved onto the Maxi-Cosi Moda Convertible Car Seat (pictured).
On a short family trip interstate, we made the decision to purchase a $30 throw-away pram from a chain discount store when we arrived at our destination, so we wouldn’t need to lug our regular stroller through the airport check-in process. I can confirm that it was the worst $30 we’ve ever spent. While seemingly practical and undoubtedly affordable, we spent the next five days getting tires stuck in potholes and rushing to catch the pram as it tipped backwards with any slight change in weight distribution.
The lesson here? Buy a good pram. Most – if not all – mainstream stroller brands today should meet your country’s safety standards, but be sure to check if you’re unsure. Our pick throughout the raising of our three children has been Bugaboo, which has consistently proven themselves to be safe, durable and reliable. We’ve used the Cameleon3, the Bee3 and the Donkey2, all of which have been beloved members of our family.
The Skincare Products
Megan Gale’s new lifestyle brand ‘Mindful Life’ uses“the finest, naturally-derived and safe ingredients, sourced sustainably and produced ethically.” The first range, Mindful Life Child, is now available and features a beautifully crafted selection of skincare products made in Australia from ethically sourced, cruelty-free and naturally derived ingredients. We love the Relaxing Massage Oil, made of a nourishing combination of jojoba, almond, avocado and rosehip oils that help to enrich and condition the skin, with organic calendula and chamomile to soothe.
As a mother with extremely sensitive skin, I have been vigilant about the products I put on my babies. And when we think of the products that touch those precious little bodies – are there any that they are more exposed to than nappies? Living in them essentially 24/7 for the first two to three years of their lives, nappies are the cornerstone of our children’s skin safety.
All that said, glancing at the ingredients on common nappy brands could be considered an exercise in horror. Which is why I’ve been so delighted to find Joonya, which are – in my mind (and the mind of many experts) – the best truly non-toxic nappies. The husband-and-wife team behind Joonya started their journey to create the brand following the chemical burns endured by their eldest son’s reaction to a household nappy brand, and parents across the world are now thanking them for it.
With the fear of SIDS and sleep safety being ever-present, your baby’s cot is always going to be at the forefront of your mind when it comes to creating a safe environment for your baby. Australian standards say to always use a new mattress (particularly if you’ve purchased a second-hand cot), and of course to ensure the cot placed far away from windows and cords. As well as this, it’s also worth considering the lacquer and paints used on the furniture pieces you select for your baby’s nursery, so you can be sure that they’re non-toxic and high quality.
Our pick is Kidsmill – new to Australia – who keep the safety of babies at the core of their design, with all pieces made in close cooperation with experienced European factories, and are produced conforming to strict European standards.
Somewhat surprisingly, ordinary cotton textiles have been found to irritate some babies’ skin. So if you’re looking to opt for a more natural option, consider linen or bamboo lyocell. Ettitude have recently released a range of cot sheets and mattress protectors that are made of 100% organic bamboo lyocell, which is incredibly soft, as well as being naturally antimicrobial and hypoallergenic, so it’s gentle on the littlest of skin.
Pleasingly, organic baby clothing brands abound, so there’s really no need to adorn your little one in harsh fabrics and chemical-laden pieces. Whether it’s Pure Baby, Nature Baby, Jamie Kay or the huge number of labels that seem to emerge every week from Byron Bay, take your pick of adorable clothes that feel as good as they look.
Como Tomo is a tried and tested Grace Tales favourite brand (and trust us, we’ve tried them all). Their bottles are designed with a wide mound and a naturally shaped nipple to help your babies make a seamless switch from breast to bottle – basically, the bottles are designed to mimic breastfeeding to help babies easily transition back and forth from nursing to bottle feeding. If you’re dealing with ‘nipple confusion’ and ‘bottle rejection’, these are fantastic. But most importantly, Comotomo baby bottles and nipples are made with hygienic silicone that is free of BPA and other toxic chemicals.
In association with Volvo