Your cousin announces that their baby has safely arrived. Hurrah. In celebration you head to the shops to buy them a gift. Not having children yourself, you decide to visit an established baby product retailer whose name you recognise and trust and begin to browse looking for inspiration. Ooh look at the cots on display with their cute bedding sets: pillow, cot bumper, quilt, pillow, even a coordinating cuddly toy. That would look perfect in your cousin’s nursery.
What you won’t know is that a cot kitted out like that raises several red flags if you’re trying to protect against cot death (sudden infant death syndrome) and accidents. The NHS advises against the use of cot bumpers (which are already illegal for sale in Chicago) and are not intended for use once a baby can crawl (about six months), that quilts and pillows should not be used until the baby is 1 year old, but preferably all such items and cuddly toys should be kept out of the baby’s cot. So why display a cot made up in such an unsuitable fashion? Are the retailers unaware that they are a source of information for consumers? Or worse, are they putting profits before their responsibility towards baby safety? As one SIDS spokeswomen comments, ‘parents think, “If (stores) sell it, it must be safe,”‘ Put “cot bumper sets” into Google Images and see for yourself how often these items are displayed together.
In the UK, the baby product retail market is fiercely competitive. Mothercare, for example, is reported to be struggling in the UK as new entrants to the market compete for their business and are closing 100+ stores by 2015. Given that parents-to-be are bombarded with conflicting information, hearsay and out-of-date advice and baby retailers can have a strong influence on their purchasing decisions one smart company could carve out a niche as being the responsible baby products retailer that helps consumers make safer choices.