Mums and dads warned of nappy sack choking risk

Nappy sacks should not be stored in a baby's pram
Nappy sacks should not be stored in a baby's pram

Parents have been warned to keep nappy sacks away from their children after they caused the deaths of 16 babies across the country.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is raising awareness of the choking hazard posed by the packaging after a recent inquest concluded a six-month-old died when they accidentally suffocated inside a nappy sack.

The charity has teamed up with mum Beth Amison, whose son Maison, seven months, was killed in a choking incident in 2013. All 16 fatalities since 2001 have involved babies under a year old.

Nappy sacks are thin, plastic sacks used to dispose of soiled nappies, and many parents store these items close to the cot or under the mattress for convenience when changing a baby at night. This can be dangerous if they are left within a baby’s reach. There has also been a tragedy involving a three-month-old baby, when a nappy sack lying on a changing table near an open window was blown into the cot.

“My world fell apart because of a nappy sack. I urge anyone who is around babies to think about the possible dangers before they become a problem. Don’t have the ‘it won’t happen to me’ or ‘it didn’t do me any harm, so I’m not going to think about it’ attitude, because when tragedy strikes, it leaves you heartbroken forever,” said Beth, now 23.

Advice for carers includes keeping all plastic bags and wrapping away from babies and toddlers, never placing sacks in or near a cot or pram, being aware that the flimsy sacks can easily be blown around in a draught, and buying sacks on a roll where available.

“Sadly, RoSPA is made aware of one to two nappy sack-related deaths a year and we know of at least 16 deaths. While most people are well aware plastic bags can be dangerous to children they don’t associate these risks with nappy sacks so are less likely to take the same safety precautions. Nappy sacks are made from light flimsy plastic that is easy for babies and young children to grasp and they instinctively discover the world by putting things in their mouth, but once in their mouths they find it difficult to remove and can suffocate or choke. We hope families and carers will take on board advice from our campaign,” said public health advisor Sheila Merrill.

More information, plus leaflets and posters to download on RoSPA’s nappy sack safety campaign, are available at www.rospa.com/campaigns-fundraising/current/nappy-sacks