Guidelines for Safe Nursery Equipment

By CAPFSA (Child accident prevention foundation of SA)


From the beginning of a child’s life, products intended for a child must be selected with safety in mind. A safe surrounding for nursery furniture is just as important as the safe design of the furniture itself. A safe environment and safe nursery furniture are a good start to protecting your baby.


Babies and small children spend a lot of time in cots, therefore it is important to choose a cot that is safe

Safety checklist and design :

Dropsides :

Fastening devices for the cot’s dropsides should be at least 850mm apart to prevent a child from lowering a side unaided

With the dropside lowered the depth of cot should be at least 250mm

Wheels :

If castors are fitted they should be fitted only on two legs; or if fitted on all legs at least two should be capable of being locked.

Bars :

Apertures should not be smaller than 68mm or larger than 70mm. This will prevent the child from injuring himself by inserting his head or limbs through gaps between vertical rails

No horizontal openings, slots or rails which could provide a foothold for a child to climb out of the cot, should be included in the design

Materials :

All metal parts within reach of a child should be corrosion resistant or be adequately protected against corrosion

Safe use :

  • Place cot away from windows, heaters and power points
  • Avoid having small objects and food and drink in the cot which could cause choking
  • The cot mattress should fit snugly with no more than two fingers width between the edge of the mattress and the cot side

Warning :

Most injuries with cots happen from unsafe design features and incorrect use of cots

Injuries occur from :

  • cords or strings in or near cot (strangulation)
  • clothing pulling tight on protruding part of the cot
  • child’s head becoming trapped
  • falling from the cot when the child attempts to climb out


You will want a chair for your baby so that he can sit and join the family meals. They are normally used for children between six months and three years

Safety checklist and design

  • If chair is collapsible, the design should be such that the child’s weight would keep the chair open
  • Movement by a child in the seat should not make the chair tilt over
  • The vertical distance between the seat and top of the backrest should be more than 350mm
  • There should be no holes, openings or parts which could trap the child’s finger or flesh
  • Chairs should be fitted with restraining devices or straps. Crotch straps if fitted, should be at least 5mm wide

Safe use

  • The child must be supervised when in a high chair
  • Always fasten the restraining devices
  • Make sure there is no foam exposed by splits in the chair’s seat or back which a child could chew or pull out and cause choking
  • Do not allow a child to stand in the chair
  • Place the high chair in a safe position and use a safe level surface


The most serious accidents with high chairs happen when children fall out because they are not strapped in or not supervised

Bath Seats

A bath seat will give your child added support while in the bath, but it will not protect him from injury or drowning

Safe use

  • Collect all bathing materials before bringing baby into the bathroom
  • Never use a bath seat on textured or non-skid surfaces unless the manufacturer’s instructions specifically state that the seat is intended for such surfaces
  • Place the seat in the bath so baby cannot reach the taps or spout
  • Bath rings should be used with children who are capable of sitting upright unassisted

Gates and enclosures

When your baby can crawl, it’s time to block doorways and stairways with gates. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and use

Safe use

  • Gates with expanding pressure bars should be installed with the bar side away from baby
  • Anchor the safety gate securely in the doorway or stairway
  • Always close the gate when you leave the room and never leave baby unattended

Prams and Strollers

Babies and children spend a lot of time in prams, it is therefore important to choose one that is comfortable and safe

Safety checklist and design

  • Make sure that the brakes, safety catches and child restraint work properly
  • Check for sharp edges and points
  • Should be stable and not tip over easily
  • A folding pram should have two separate locking devices. Make sure locking devices engage automatically so that it cannot unfold suddenly
  • Prams should have safety harnesses – a 5 point harness is recommended
  • One-hand fold strollers should have a second fold lock to prevent stroller collapsing with a child inside by accident

Safe use

  • Children must be supervised at all times
  • Do not overload pram
  • Avoid hanging shopping bags over handles

Warning : injuries occur when

  • design is unsafe
  • incorrectly used
  • children fall from pram when not strapped in properly
  • pram tips over when overloaded
  • pram collapses when not locked in correctly
  • pram is operated by another child

Changing tables

Safety checklist and design

  • Make sure that units are stable when drawers and cupboards are both open and closed
  • Should have a strap to help keep the child in place
  • Sides should be raised / sloped to prevent the child from rolling from the table

Safe use

  • Always stay with baby when using unit
  • Make sure you can reach everything you need without leaving baby – have nappy, wipes etc. close at hand
  • Never turn your back on baby when reaching for baby products


  • Most accidents at changing time happen when the child falls off the unit or raised surface
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