Family & health



19aug baby and toddler hero default

Baby and toddler


From baby monitors to bassinets, it's important to purchase the right products to suit your family — and to make sure they're safe. We give you the low down on what to look out for and what to avoid.

The damage a button battery can do


Our Australian sister organisation, Choice, conducted this test as part of a campaign to get the government to tighten the law around the sale of button batteries.

Button batteries are coin-sized batteries common in a wide variety of devices including remote controls, singing Christmas cards, bathroom scales and car keys. When these batteries come in contact with bodily fluids an electric current is created. This leads to the production of hydroxide which is caustic and in turn this can result in tissue necrosis, serious throat damage (such as permanent loss of voice) or in extreme cases has proven fatal.

Trading Standards (as part of Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) is engaged in an international collaboration, with the US, Australia, Japan and Korea, which is looking at possible longer term options to address the risks.

Safety tips

  • If you suspect a child has swallowed a button battery, immediately call the National Poisons Centre on 0800 764 766 or go to a hospital emergency room. Do not let the child eat or drink, and do not induce vomiting.
  • Keep all disc battery operated devices out of sight and out of reach of children.
  • Examine devices and make sure the battery compartment is secure.
  • Dispose of used button batteries immediately. Flat batteries can still be dangerous.
  • Tell others about the risk associated with button batteries, and how to keep their children safe.


Baby walkers

We strongly advise against putting your child in a baby walker, whether it meets a safety standard or not.

Because babies in walkers are much more mobile, and can move faster than a parent often expects, they can get into dangerous situations. Most injuries associated with baby walkers are caused by falls down steps, scalds, burns and poisonings from household chemicals.

Some parents believe a baby walker will help a child learn to walk. Safekids, the national child-injury prevention service, says babies don’t need baby walkers: “Time on their tummies rolling, crawling and stretching on the floor is what babies need for development."

Our view

  • You shouldn’t put your child in a baby walker.

  • There needs to be more information about the risks of baby walkers and the safety requirements. Some suppliers aren’t even aware there is a mandatory standard.

  • The nationwide chain Farmers has a policy of not selling baby walkers. We’d like to see other retailers following its example.

Which products are regulated?

Over the last decade, rising recall rates and mounting consumer concern have seen many governments move to beef up regulation for kids' products. However, that hasn't happened here. No new nursery product-safety standards have been introduced since 2001, although some have been amended.

Compared with our closest neighbour, our record is lacklustre. Australia has 28 mandatory standards aimed at protecting babies and young children from potentially unsafe goods. At last count, we had just 8 standards comparable with the Aussies’.

Deaths and injuries involving portable cots led to the introduction of mandatory standards in Australia in 2009. Minimum safety requirements have also been introduced for strollers and other products such as bunks – neither of which are regulated here.

Australia, along with other countries, has also increased regulation of chemicals and heavy metals in toys. Aussie rules set maximum allowable limits for 8 heavy metals including lead, antimony, cadmium and chromium. Our rules apply only to lead – yet toys with excess levels of antimony and chromium have been found on shop shelves.

ProductsIn NZ[tick;sort;asc]In Australia[tick;sort;asc]
Baby bath seatsNoYes
Baby dummies NoYes
Baby walkers YesYes
Balloon blowing kits NoYes
Basketball rings and backboardsNoYes
Bean bags NoYes
Bicycles YesYes
Bicycle helmets YesYes
Blind and curtain cordsNoYes
Bunk beds NoYes
Child car restraints YesYes
DEHP >1% in toys NoB
Disposable cigarette lightersYesYes
Flotation and aquatic toys NoYes
Heavy metals in toys AYes
Household cots YesYes
Inflatable toys containing beadsNoB
Magnets in toys NoYes
Nightwear for childrenYesYes
Portable cotsNoYes
Prams and strollersNoYes
Projectile toys NoYes
Swimming and flotation aidsNoYes
Toys with small parts (for 0-3 year olds)YesYes
Toy-like novelty lighters NoB
Undisclosed knives & cutters in art/craft setsNoB
Unsafe spa/pool filter systemsNoB
Yo-yo water balls NoB

Guide to the table

A = Lead only.
B = Regulated and permanently banned.