The Hidden Dangers of the Laundry Hamper!

Safety ayskysbffe
hysteria is everywhere, but nowhere more obvious than in “must read” warnings to parents, like the ones discussed below. A mom named Alisha emailed to say, “As a former paramedic I’m all for safety, but I am frustrated on a daily basis with other people’s perception of what is dangerous.”
Me too. That’s why I love her letter. By the way, the clothing hampers that the article talks about are made of fabric and wire.
Dear Free-Range Kids: So in this month’s Parents magazine there is an article titled “10 Hidden Hazards In Your House.” In big red bold letters of course. Here are some of the things it says.
“Some of the most serious hazards aren’t outdoors, they’re hiding in plain sight in even the most safety minded households. Learn what is risky and how to avoid an accident.” Item #1: “Clothing Hampers…. As an impromptu tunnel or fort these fit the bill, but they should be off limits to kids, because they’ve caused severe eye injuries.”
It goes on to quote a surgeon who says kids have required emergency surgery after kids eyes were cut open, his exact words, when a wire came loose from the fabric. It makes it sound like this happens daily to thousands of kids and instead of just a painful poke to the eye, painful but not life altering, that kids’ eyes are being ripped from the sockets requiring emergency specialty surgery!
Talk about worst-first thinking. I guess I will have to tell my daughter one of her favorite toys is now off limits, since these recommendations are for kids 14 and under.
The list goes on with #5: Hard candy. It says that hard candy is the thing that kids under 14 choke on the most frequently. It goes on to say the most common scenario is toddlers running with candy in their mouth and starting to choke — but apparently everyone under 14 is a toddler now.
#6: Immersion blenders. Blades are sharp and because the button is on the side you can easily turn it on. I get that but it also says 1,250 kids a year under 14 go to the ER for blender injuries so considering the odds it doesn’t seem to be a widespread threat.
And as a close 2nd to hampers is #9….Spray Bottles!! Oh the horror! “Over 16 years 300k kids were injured from household cleaners and spray bottles were the most common culprit” and turning the bottle to off “just slows kids down” but isn’t enough to protect them.
I get that cleaners are dangerous and need to be stored out of reach but to say spray bottles alone are dangerous is a little over the top.
I think that is my issue with this whole article. It takes minor things and mixes them in with serious hazards like small magnets, button batteries or medications and makes them all seem equal. I mean medications was #7 and hampers was #1. You tell me what is more likely to harm a child!
The other thing is the age ranges. Its ridiculous to imply a 14 year old is in just as much danger from choking on a piece of candy as a toddler, but the way the article is written it acts as if 14 and 4 are all the same!
We are treating young adults as if they are small children and that they are all in constant danger! It all goes back to your whole thing of accurately judging the true risk of things, instead of saying everything is on the same super-dangerous category.
Well I just wanted to pass this along.
Take care,

P.S. Kid near hamper! Maybe I better just put in an advanced order for a surgeon and seeing eye dog!

Lenore here: I note that the article quotes Dr. Gary Smith, who works at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and has previously suggested slapping “High Risk” labels on hotdogs (a child could choke), while a sidebar to the article suggests parents download the “Make Safe Happen” app, also sponsored by Nationwide, which, you may recall, gave us the Super Bowl commercial starring a dead child.

Is this guy in your laundry hamper?

Take me to your laundry hamper.


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70 Responses to The Hidden Dangers of the Laundry Hamper!

  1. Elin September 14, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    Well my hamper has no wires so I guess I am safe… I also think that the dangers even of the more severe things like medicines differ between children. My daughter found a whole bag of medicine which I have forgotten to unpack. She just walked up to me and asked what it was and I said medicine and thanked her for giving it to me and reminded her that she should never put anything in her mouth that she doesn’t know what it is. She was very happy to have been helpful.

  2. Maggie September 14, 2015 at 11:02 am #

    Clothes hampers? *headdesk*

  3. Jan September 14, 2015 at 11:17 am #

    My daughter recently gave birth to her first child, and I was fortunate (?) enough to be able to accompany her to the class she was REQUIRED to attend before she and the baby could be discharged from the hospital. It was ostensibly to learn how to give the baby a sponge bath before the umbilical cord fell off, but it was really a “Let’s overstate the dangers of SIDS and scare these new parents to death” seminar.

    I can’t tell you how often I rolled my eyes during that hour – at one point, I thought they were going to pop right out of my head. Every last one of my kids (and there are five of them) slept on their stomachs, surrounded by stuffed animals and covered in blankets – all of which are a HUGE no-no these days – and every one of them survived. Even my youngest, who was nearly 3 months premature. I said as much to the woman giving the lecture, and she frowned and sighed, “Yeah, I hear that a lot from the grandparents.” Like we are complete morons.

    Also on the list of dangers were powdered infant formula, crib bumpers, letting your child sleep WITHOUT a pacifier (or, heaven forbid, in your bed) and the placement of the straps on car seats – that the hospital makes SURE are correctly installed in the car correctly before they’ll let you drive away with your own baby.

    What have we turned in to?

  4. SKL September 14, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    With that kind of risk threshold, I don’t know how you even make a top 10 list. Everything can cause and has caused accidents. For years, my kid’s favorite way to get hurt was walking across a flat, obstacle-free floor. Last week my kid got (mildly) injured in gym returning a volleyball. Table legs are another surprising culprit. You can walk right into them and break your toe. Why are tables legal again?

    On a loosely related note, the other day, the mom of one of my kids’ soccer teammates wanted to let me know that my kid accidentally knocked her kid down in practice. (The girls are both 8yo.) She said she wanted to tell me “in case I want to talk to my daughter about it.” I was confused, because what is there to talk about? Soccer, field, running, kids are gonna collide. Sometimes one or both of them are gonna fall down. My kids have tasted their fair share of soccer field soil. Why would a soccer mom think her kid should never be knocked down? Is this a side effect of the “protect kids from every possible hurt” mentality?

  5. Fiamma September 14, 2015 at 11:30 am #

    Jan – powdered infant formula? What?

    My three year old likes to run over with the long and pointy weeding tool for me to use when we are outside so he can get bugs. Sure if he trips with it one of us can get hurt, but I have told him to walk and so far we are alright.
    Look, anything can be a danger to any of us. Short of never leaving home and wrapping ourselves in bubble wrap, accidents and unfortunate things happen. It sucks, but no one can monitor anyone twenty four seven.

  6. SKL September 14, 2015 at 11:33 am #

    I agree with the checking the straps on car seats bit. I have to admit that I didn’t know some things about that, and I am sure I’m not the only one. A car seat is only as good as its installation and use. 😉

    The rest of it, eyeroll central.

    I feel sad when I see wee babies lying alone on flat surfaces with no blankie or lovey or pretties to look at. 🙁 Also it’s been proven that babies in that position sleep less (on average), and that lack of sleep increases the risk of issues like ADHD. They’ve found more logical risk factors for SIDS, but they never dial back the illogical restrictions they set so long ago.

  7. ChicagoDad September 14, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    Doors are evil and crush fingers. 78 million kids get their fingers crushed by doors every year. A house with working doors is unsafe for children under 14.

    For heaven’s sake people, lock your doors. 78 million homes are robbed or invaded by horrible criminals every year because doors were left open or unlocked. A house without locked doors is unsafe for children under 14.

    Solid food is the leading cause of choking and airway blockages among children under 14. Children should only be bottle-fed smoothies and protein shakes until their 14th birthday.

    Exercise and play are the leading cause of non-automotive injuries among children under 14. Children should not be allowed to play or exercise ever. The only safe way to play is on the Xbox, not Wii, too dangerous.

  8. Megan September 14, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    Omg, all this time I’ve been just blithely letting my 4 year old climb all the way INSIDE the hamper?! Thank you, Parents magazine, for showing me the ignorance of my ways!

  9. SKL September 14, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    Don’t ask me why, but my 8yo kids still think hiding in the hamper is funny. I hadn’t thought of the wire in the eye thing, but what about pencils, pens, scissors, paint brushes, tweezers, twigs, forks, chopsticks, styluses, springs of old mattresses …. (I won’t even mention obvious horrors like table knives, needlecraft implements, fishing hooks ….) For that matter, what about their own fingernails? You never know when a kid is going to poke herself in the eye.

  10. John September 14, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    I most recently read an article (can’t seem to find it now) explaining how dangerous tricycles have been to young preschoolers and that there actually have been fatalities (riding trikes into swimming pools where the child drowns and head injuries). It also said that a child below the age of 3 does not have the coordination to safely ride a tricycle. So the article recommended that children who ride tricycles should wear helmets.

    To me, a little tot riding a tricycle with a helmet on seems a bit overboard but perhaps I’m just old fashion. Also, I’ve read that because, according to some Neurosurgeons, “headers” (in soccer) over time can cause brain damage, that all children playing soccer should wear a helmet.

    I think America would become the laughing stock in Europe if we ever implemented that rule for our kids!

  11. Jan September 14, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    Fiamma – yup. Apparently there’s a (minuscule, according to the CDC) chance an infant can become ill from Cronobacter if they drink powdered formula. If I remember correctly, you have to add the formula to nearly boiling water, add it to sterilized bottles and allow it to cool before feeding it to your baby. Oh, and it’s unsafe for infants under 2 months old. Not a concern for my daughter, who is nursing, but still.

    SKL – I guess I should have been more clear. It’s the placement of the padding on the car seat straps – too far down and they could sustain a possible chest injury if you’re ever in a car accident. Wouldn’t you be happy your child survived a car accident, if it was bad enough for them to be injured by the straps on the car set? Oi, vey.

    Not only are you not supposed to allow your child to sleep on their stomach, but on their side. I would LOVE someone come and try to make my new grandson sleep on his back; the minute you lay him down, he rolls over on his right side. If you roll him to his back, he rolls right over to his side again. It’s how he wants to sleep. And he does it covered with a blankie and a couple of toys in his crib. I should really talk to my daughter about that – you never know what kind of shenanigans a 6-pound baby will get up to with that stuffed lamb that makes womb noises…

  12. Powers September 14, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    Jan: “Every last one of my kids (and there are five of them) slept on their stomachs, surrounded by stuffed animals and covered in blankets – all of which are a HUGE no-no these days – and every one of them survived.”

    The problem is that no one knows what causes SIDS, so it makes sense to minimize the risk factors. Just because those risk factors aren’t universally fatal doesn’t mean they don’t increase the risk of death.

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  14. Jan September 14, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    Powers – if no one knows what causes SIDS, then how can anyone be sure that those things increase the risk of it? And with back sleeping comes a host of other problems; as SKL pointed out, babies who sleep on their back sleep less, and less soundly, which increases the risk of ADHD. Babies who sleep on their backs also have a much increased risk of having flat-head syndrome – there are all sorts of gadgets you can buy to help with this, but they all look suspiciously like a pillow to me. Which is supposed to be one of the things you’re not supposed to have in the crib with your baby.

    We’re an hysterical society. It’s getting us nowhere.

  15. Puzzled September 14, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    Up to age 14? When I saw that hard candy was inappropriate for kids up to 14, I assumed they meant Hard Candy, the movie. If you haven’t seen it…don’t.

    Anyway, I’m most bugged by the line about “just slows kids down.” It makes it sound like kids are nothing more than danger-seeking missiles, intent on harming themselves.

  16. Dean Whinery September 14, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    When I read of these things, I am almost overwhelmed with onset of sarcasm…help me! Better not teach kids to clean up after themselves either, everyone knows that a broom might fall over and bump the fragile darling’s head.
    As for sleeping positions of babies. The most recent–a couple of months ago–book I read on ADHD pointed to a genetic cause, something I’d observed as an Army Medic, uncle, and Scout leader. My niece slept in every possible position, and often had to be “rescued” from the tucked in foot of the bed where she usually ended up by morning. Oh. Maybe kids should not sleep on beds, they might fall out…Sorry, sarcasm getting outta control.

  17. MarkM September 14, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

    Safety “experts” might be horrified at my house.

    My 12 year old and 10 year old daughters do their own laundry. This involves getting the clothes from the hamper (where they put it), bringing them to the washer, putting them in the washer, adding detergent, starting machine, moving clothes from washer to dryer (or hanger) and then folding and putting away their own clothes. Frankly, they have done so for a couple of years now (2? for the eldest I think). A couple years back, we got a neat new washing machine and dryer with a see-through doors that they thought were really neat to watch and that was the trigger for teaching them how to do their own. For the record, I am not particularly concerned about damage to them from their hampers,the washing machine or the dryer.

    Even worse, both of them help with the dishwasher (usually upon “request” from me or my wife – typically, we try to alternate). This includes handling fragile glassware, various sharp knives, heavy pots and pans. I hate to say this, but we started letting them put some stuff in the dishwasher at about age 2-3 or so. Yes, we lost some plates and glasses in the process, but they eventually learned (without significant injuries). Today, they both handle the brightly colored dishwasher detergent pods. Amazingly, neither one of them has poisoned themselves, us or their sister yet with those pods.

    From time to time, my daughters (or just 1 of the 2) asks for the right to make the family meal (or breakfast on the weekends or a dessert like home-made brownies to take to a school event or … ). They are both capable of turning on and appropriately using the gas burners on the stove, the gas oven, the electrical oven, the toaster, a commercial-grade blender and handling kitchen knives without adult supervision. The list of what they can make (between the 2 of them) is non-trivial: pasta, pasta sauces, pancakes, crepes, quiche, eggs (scrambled, fried, still working on omelets – but then again, so am I), chicken breast, waffles (primarily from frozen, admittedly), steak, brownies, cookies, smoothies (yes, this is what they use that commercial grade blender in the kitchen to make), sandwiches, salads, soups, various vegies, various appetizers (ok – some of these are just a reheating process from the freezer to the oven or microwave, but others involve some serious knife work – like the thin slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella), jam-flavored whip cream, etc. They both also know how to read a recipe and follow it – and I think they both have started notebooks tracking the various recipes they’ve made/learned. Once again, they need little to no adult supervision to do this. I must admit – I’m not sure to what extent they’ve independently used my immersion blender or food processor. Frankly, they can generally do a pretty good job with just the kitchen knives, so they haven’t had much need of either. I think the only thing they don’t know how to do at this point is start my gas grill outside … and that’s fine, I’m not sure my wife knows how to light it either. I’ll also admit that my 10-year-old has had occasional trouble starting the stove top gas burners and she will ask us for a little help in doing so, but given the stove is new to her in the last year or so, we’re fine with that as well.

    Based on the above, it is probably not a suprise that they also know how to and have been required (from time to time) to use the vacuum cleaner. Because my wife has a bit of trouble with the sight of blood, they’ve also learned (when I’m not around) how to clean out their own wounds, add appropriate antiseptic if needed, and bandage themselves. They also are more than capable of putting on their own sunscreen without “accidentally” eating it.

    Our objective as parents is to raise fully-functioning kids who are capable, long term, of becoming independent from us. Treating everything as a problem and fearing they might get hurt is both counter-productive and deadly to that agenda. In my opinion (absent extraordinary circumstances), there is no excuse for not giving children the opportunity to learn various household skills and practice what they’ve learned.

  18. Virginia September 14, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

    Note to self, immersion blenders are not toys. Thanks Parenting magazine. I had also probably let my child’s 8th grade principal know that the peppermints they hand out at state testing times are very likely to kill have the students.

  19. Virginia September 14, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    oops, that would be “half the students”….

  20. Michelle September 14, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    Laundry hampers and baskets are absolutely off-limits to my kids as playthings. Do you have any idea how many my kids break just using them for laundry?? It’s infuriating! I don’t think I own a single one that still has handles.

    Yes, things made of wire could accidentally injure an eye. My son fell and cut his cheek open on something on his sisters’ messy bedroom floor. We think it was a wire hanger. I do get the heebie-jeebies thinking how close it came to his eye, but I’m not banning wire hangers!

  21. Doug September 14, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Thank goodness I keep the hamper away from my sons. They’re safely in the garage next to the can of gasoline playing with matches.

  22. Michelle September 14, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    Believe it or not, the sleeping less soundly on their backs thing is intentional. Sometimes babies apparently “forget” to breathe in their sleep, and the thinking is that this will happen less if they don’t sleep as soundly. Of course, there are other issues caused by not sleeping well as has been mentioned.

    (This actually happened to my step-daughter. When she was an infant, she just stopped breathing in her sleep for no reason. Luckily my husband found her in time, rushed her to the ER, and she was ok.)

    You know what else helps prevent babies from forgetting to breathe? Sleeping in close proximity to their mothers (or, presumably, fathers). Hearing the adult’s heartbeat, feeling them breathe, sharing their warmth. But that also brings risks of accidental suffocation.

    There is no perfectly safe, risk-free way for an infant to sleep. You have to choose your risks, do the best you can, and pray for the best.

  23. Liz September 14, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    the only reason hospitals care about car seat safety is to avoid being part of a lawsuit. Ditto on sleeping recommendations etc. The thing to remember is, the doctor is only recommending things for you to do at home. It is not a law, they cannot make you do it. Smile and nod and then go home and do what you feel is best for your situation. Best advice I was ever given, from my mom, who worked for over 30 years as the Director of OB and Pediatrics for our local hospital. She is not some idiot with access to a website, but a highly educated professional. She is always good to turn to when I am told to do something that seems a bit ridiculous from my family doctor.

    Oh and my then 2 year old did spray himself in the eye with a cleaner once. He hated baths (for about 6 months) after because we had to flush out his eye with water. His vision is fine and he now swims with his eyes open under the water. I think we managed to avoid any permanent damage.

  24. Emily Morris September 14, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    I still won’t give my toddler hard candy. Were I to give a piece of hard candy to a 13-year-old, I assume they are able to handle the risk.

    Though the way some parents are going, how many kids will enter the fragile teen years without knowledge of how to eat a Jolly Rancher?

  25. Emily Morris September 14, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

    I’ve heard multiple health professionals say that if an infant is capable of rolling over to a preferred sleeping position… they’re probably fine as far as handling any breathing issues.

  26. lollipoplover September 14, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    We used to have this top hinge brown rattan hamper in our hallway in my home growing up. It was my BEST hiding spot for house wide games of hide and go seek. I was the smallest of my siblings and could hid in there and disguise myself on top with the dirty laundry and no one ever found me. I learned in there how to breath through my nose and suppress my urge to gag at the smelly clothes of my older brothers.

    Perhaps the problem is not laundry hampers, but this specific made-in-china pop up hamper you can get at dollar stores that yes, has pieces of metal that could hurt someone! But not all laundry hampers come from China.

    Personally, we use large plastic laundry baskets that the kids keep at the bottom of their closet. When empty, they make great cat traps (our cats cannot resist laundry baskets) and improvised snow sleds.
    I can’t even read past the other ones.
    HARD CANDY? Like Lollipops? What is WRONG with people! Live your life. Don’t fear the lollipop.

  27. Reziac September 14, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    Beware — there are parents in the home! Parents are among the leading causes of death in children!!


  28. Wendy W September 14, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

    I think parents SHOULD be taught to properly use the car seat before leaving the hospital. Many young parents have had next to zero practice on such things.

    A funny story on that topic- when my older son was born and we were ready to go home, my husband, as required brought the car seat into the hospital so the nurses could check that he was properly installed before leaving. When Hubby came in from the car, he had the diaper bag inside the seat, and a blanket spread over it (it was Jan, and the baby would need to be covered outside.) It looked like it was occupied by a baby. As he walked through the waiting room, he was swinging the car seat, and swung it full circle over his head. According to him, the reactions of those seated around the room were priceless!

    On SIDS and sleeping position- there are so many variables that could be researched, sleeping position being only one. How about cold medicines given at bed-time? New mattress off-gassing the plastic fumes because it was only unwrapped the day before baby came home? Old mattress brought up from basement and full of unseen mold? Both of which would be worsened by a face-down position and a blanket snuggled around the head, but those factors would not be the CAUSE. You also have to be aware of your own baby’s mobility – some will squirm all over the crib, and even if the teddy is at the foot of the bed, the child will get there eventually. Others won’t budge from where you set them down. Mine seemed to always wake me up because an arm got caught between the bars- those soft bumper pads were a requirement in my house.

    Unfortunately, I think the mobility of our society and the smaller size of our families has seriously decreased our access to the wisdom and experience of our elders, and our access to young children to practice on before having our own- how many of teens now have little nieces and nephews the we babysit regularly? And our parents around when we do it to advise us and help us learn? In the absence of grandparent wisdom, today’s parents turn to the so-called experts, who actually are anything but.

  29. SKL September 14, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    I realize the interference with healthy sleep is intentional. That doesn’t make it better IMO.

    They have also found that sleeping on the tummy (and chest) helps babies develop lung capacity. So forcing them to sleep on their backs is actually exacerbating the problem where it does exist.

    Some babies stop breathing. There are many factors. Dirty mattresses, parents who smoke, having a cold. Remember the fuss a few years ago about people giving their kids cold/cough medicine which led to their deaths? I have read that a high % of SIDS babies had a cold when they died. I wonder if their parents tried to medicate them and nobody realized that contributed to their deaths.

    As for dirty mattresses, yes, making a kid lie on his back rather than having his nose stuck to the dirty mattress probably saves lives. How about using a not-dirty mattress instead of screwing up the natural sleep of every kid in the world?

    The problem is that we use a shotgun approach to “safety” without giving enough weight to the side effects of the “safety measure.”

  30. Jon September 14, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

    What the warning ignores is that a wire that comes out would be on a worn old hamper. If you see that a wire might be ready to come out, throw out the hamper or tape it securely. Also, you can educate to your kid to look for such a hazard as a loose wire and point it out to you!

  31. Kathleen September 14, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    “It makes it sound like kids are nothing more than danger-seeking missiles, intent on harming themselves.”

    Well, they ARE, but that’s how they learn. My youngest is 2, and he, more than any of the others, pushes the limits of safety every single day. He’s trying to keep up with kids who are over a foot taller than him. He climbs the cabinets, stands on the table, tries to ride his big brother’s skateboard, careens wildly down the sidewalk on a tricycle too big for him, and generally has a grand old time. I freak out that he’s going to get hurt at least a dozen times a day, but he’s always ok, or at least only a little scraped up. The funny thing is that his sibling’s teachers, his pediatrician, and other “authority figures” always comment on how confident and capable he is for his age. Well, yes, of course he is. I let him figure out his limits.

  32. Joanna September 14, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

    Lemme see… On my dad’s side, when his parents took him and his sibs kids to weekend family gatherings at less-well-off relatives in the 1920s, beds were at a premium, so babies (my dad included) were often put in a dresser drawer with a bed pillow for cushioning. Sometimes TWO babies to a drawer. According to the Fear Squad, he (and his younger brothers) shouldn’t have survived, right? Best not tell the FS they were also – horrors of horrors – fed finely-chopped scraps from the table long before their first teeth sprouted. I and all of my cousins “somehow” survived the family tradition of being fed tiny spoonfuls of real ice cream beginning at less than a week old, and I carried on the tradition with my own kids, and *they* showed none of th ill-effects of “dairy before 6 months old” (or is it a year now?).

    Car seats? Not in my dad’s childhood, nor in mine. I was in more danger from being crushed by the 7 or 8 cousins jumping around in the back seat I shared with them than from ANY collision with another car. But back then, all car bodies were made totally of steel, so in effect we were riding in a 4-wheeled tank. And how did my rural cousins possibly survive trips to town in the back of the family pick up? Boggles the mind that they did, as well as running around the fields barefoot and bare-legged, getting regularly cut crawling under barb-wire fences, and NOT drowning (or getting any number of life-threatening infections) from swimming in a nearby creek. The FS would be horrified to know every single one had learned to drive the afore-mentioned, manual-tranny pick-ups all over the countryside by the age of 12. TWELVE!

    Car seats were just appearing when my own kids were little, but were little more than baby carriers and with a lot less padding, but – wonder of wonders! – my babies somehow survived car trips in them. How did that happen?

    Someone should tip off the folks at Parents magazine that these days, by 14, most kids have reached puberty and are capable of producing a whole new crop of Little People that’ll need to be bubble-wrapped to survive childhood. How did mankind survive for thousands of years without the “guidance” of Parents mag and hospital baby “care” classes???

  33. lollipoplover September 14, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

    These hidden danger lists only exist because kids are bored out of their little Baby Einstein minds pushing the limits of their sanitized and childproofed indoor home by eating magnets and doing Tide pod shots and spraying each other in the face with cleaners.
    Take them outside!

    As for no hard candy before age 4: I worked from home when the kids were toddlers and did my best to schedule phone calls during nap times to be uninterrupted. Ah, best laid plans. When the kids got whiny or were about to cry and I needed to finish a call, I resorted to bribing them with lollipops from a jar I kept on my desk. Dum dums.I called them “plugs” because the would suck on those lollies and be quiet and happy and mommy got her work done. My kids lived for lollipops (and still call them plugs!)

    These days, it’s a jar of dog treats to keep the dogs from barking while taking calls.

  34. John September 14, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    Here’s the article on the danger of tricycles:

  35. Tara September 14, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    And yet we let kids get in cars all the time. It’s not about real risk, it’s about control. Screens, cars, whatever conveniences we depend on – those risks we tolerate. In return we police every bit of minutiae, especially those things which might inconvenience us by having to patch a boo-boo or something. Handing control over to elites is a major folly.

    And Jan, if anything like that happens when I give birth in two weeks I am going to have a conniption. It’s bad enough having everyone in the world police me while pregnant (and I was a nanny and childcare provider for a decade, but caregivers experiences are always brushed under the rug), but a hospital official daring to follow me to the car, while allowing me to engage in the incredibly risky act of driving is outrageous.

  36. En Passant September 14, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

    John September 14, 2015 at 12:02 pm:

    I most recently read an article (can’t seem to find it now) explaining how dangerous tricycles have been to young preschoolers and that there actually have been fatalities (riding trikes into swimming pools where the child drowns and head injuries). It also said that a child below the age of 3 does not have the coordination to safely ride a tricycle. So the article recommended that children who ride tricycles should wear helmets.

    I still have a tiny scar on my forehead, from riding my all-wooden push tricycle (all wooden due to WWII metal rationing) full tilt around a corner, smack into a room-heating stove. Heating stoves in those days had open flames, and very hot metal frames.

    Disaster? For, oh, a couple minutes. Permanent injury? Yep. Still got the scar, if you squint really hard when you inspect my forehead. Why anybody would want to do that escapes me though.

    Joanna September 14, 2015 at 3:34 pm:

    Lemme see… On my dad’s side, when his parents took him and his sibs kids to weekend family gatherings at less-well-off relatives in the 1920s, beds were at a premium, so babies (my dad included) were often put in a dresser drawer with a bed pillow for cushioning. Sometimes TWO babies to a drawer. According to the Fear Squad, he (and his younger brothers) shouldn’t have survived, right?

    Those of us who recall the comic strip Popeye also recall Swee’pea, Popeye’s and Olive Oyl’s adopted son, who slept in a dresser drawer. The comic strip reflected what was once a fairly common practice. I tried it once when I was a kid, but I was already much too big, and almost turned over the dresser.

  37. ChicagoDad September 14, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    @Tara! Congrats on the upcoming new baby! That’s great!

    When my middle son was born, my wife just wanted to take him home. The resident on rotation wanted us to stay another 48 hours for observation because my wife had tested positive for strep B weeks before. This despite the massive load of antibiotics my wife got in delivery and the fact that our son was super healthy. My wife gave me that look, that “fix it now” look. Long story short, we were discharged within the hour and everything worked out great. Sometimes you really have to be your own advocate at the doctor’s office! I feel for the folks who are too intimidated to speak up for themselves.

    Best wishes for your delivery! We look forward to hearing free-range baby comments from you in a few weeks!

  38. Warren September 14, 2015 at 5:58 pm #


    Required to take the class? What would they do if one was to refuse?

    No courses, no vehicle checks, no nothing at our three births. Have baby, mom and baby deemed healthy, leave hospital. The only thing they offered was a nursing coach, if the mom wanted it.

  39. Papilio September 14, 2015 at 6:16 pm #

    This sounds like someone should make a comedy-horror movie about vampire laundry baskets 🙂

    @Puzzled: YES! Good lord, I’ve hated Ellen Page for YEARS after I saw that movie! She was so annoying that by the end I felt like strangling her and couldn’t care less if the guy was actually guilty…!!
    I didn’t change my mind until I saw Juno (with Inception in between, and I couldn’t trust her the entire film).

    “I think America would become the laughing stock in Europe”

    No comments.

  40. serena September 14, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

    I bought some apple-shaped buttons to put on a sweater I was making for a three-year-old and the warning on the back said “not suitable for children under 14”. I’m wondering what 15 year old child would have apple-shaped buttons on their clothing and at the same time, wouldn’t then all buttons be dangerous to children under 14? And yet I see lots of shirts, sweaters, pants, skirts, etc. with buttons on them for children of all ages. They should probably be recalled and replaced with zippers and Velcro.

  41. Dhewco September 14, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

    If we’re relating to when we were kid, I have a story. I am LDS (Mormon) and the nearest temple (a special place for church ordinances) at the time to Georgia was DC. I rode almost the entire trip…Southern Georgia… in the front passenger floorboard at the time. No seat belt, nothing to keep me from rolling out of the car. Of course, at the time, the car was a giant steel beast. I would have had to roll over my parents’ friend and out a window to be leave the vehicle.

    I graduated from the floorboard to the rear window rest (A flat shelf behind the back seat but under the window) and rode the rest of the trip back waving at passing cars, semis, and state patrols. It was a blast and a lot of fun. Kids today will never know that joy. It’s no fun waving at passing cars with super-tinted windows and often seated below the window with little flexibility.

  42. Shannon September 14, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

    My 12-year-old loves to cook and bake and she regularly uses knives, food processors, stand mixers, and blenders, not to mention taking hot pans out of the oven. She has been doing all of this since she was 10 and has had no injuries due to these activities. So the household dangers article is just too over the top.

    Sadly though, people are buying into all of this completely. While visiting relatives over Christmas my daughter and I were in a baking supplies store and a grandmother came in to return a bottle of sprinkles. They were the silver ball type that look like small bb pellets. I remember decorating cookies with those growing up and the older they got, the more fun it was to see how much effort it would take to crush them in our teeth. To my knowledge, they never caused an injury yet this grandmother told the clerk that her husband said she should return them because with small grandchildren, you don’t want to cause any accidents from these dangerous cookie sprinkles. The clerk said “You know they are edible?” but the grandmother was convinced they were dangerous and the clerk didn’t argue further. Talk about eye-rolling – I wanted to go up to the woman and say in all the years you’ve probably been using these same sprinkles, have they ever been an issue? But I didn’t because I’m sure it wouldn’t have changed her mind. So we now live in a world where sprinkles are dangerous items.

  43. Beth September 14, 2015 at 8:21 pm #

    “letting your child sleep WITHOUT a pacifier”

    I never gave my kids pacifiers, for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into here. But….I could have killed them by not giving them pacifiers during naptime or overnight? How?? (Side note: they lived)

  44. Jenny Islander September 14, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

    I put all three babies to sleep on their stomachs from day 1, but one of them really preferred his side instead. Most babies, though, are instinctive tummy sleepers. Just don’t put anything in the crib that could get into their faces. I used a firm crib mattress on the sidecar bed with a soft, smooth, tightly fitted “sheet” that was actually a washable changing pad under the baby and a receiving blanket that was really a piece of hemmed flannel sheeting over the baby. Or I just threw a corner of my sheet over there, depending. It was enough to keep out the drafts without restricting breathing.

  45. Jenny Islander September 14, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

    *get into their faces or create pockets of rebreathed air.

  46. James Pollock September 14, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

    “Nationwide Children’s Hospital and has previously suggested slapping “High Risk” labels on hotdogs (a child could choke), while a sidebar to the article suggests parents download the “Make Safe Happen” app, also sponsored by Nationwide, which, you may recall, gave us the Super Bowl commercial starring a dead child.”

    Oops. Nationwide Children’s Hospital is the pediatric teaching facility for the Ohio State University medical school, not the insurance company which employs Peyton Manning to hum its jingle.

  47. Rook September 14, 2015 at 9:04 pm #

    People talking about SIDS and “safety instructors” and typical dumbasses of the hosptial brings back all sorts of grumpy memories. The prison/hospital I was forced in to against my will had a security bracelet on my kid so if I tried to leave without signing 50 papers and begging the warden to let us go home, then an alarm would sound, the elevator would shut down, and the floor would go into lockdown. There were no stairs. What moron builds a hospital floor without stairs? What if there’s a fire? I hated every minute of that prison. I was perfectly healthy, great vitals, but they refused to let me eat, sleep, or drink all three days I was there. I was exhausted and getting pretty weak and sick by the time I was able to get them to discharge us.

    I remember one of the brochures passed out said infants had an increased chance of SIDS if left lying alone for too long. And then the nurses would gripe and gripe about babies who slept with their parents. My kid made it just fine. The only reason why I’d advise a parent to leave a kid in a crib overnight is because those midnight sucker punches from a rowdy sleeper really hurt!

  48. Tracey September 14, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

    SIDS is a risk, not all that rare either. But since SIDS risks are much higher for poor folks, a lot of the folks reading this blog might not realize that SIDS is a real thing.

    Last I checked the really big SIDS risk was smoking in the house with baby (raises risk by 7-fold). After that are factors like poor nutrition in pregnancy, lack of breast feeding, prematurity, unrecognized colds and infections, sleeping far from parents, rooms with no ventillation and poor air quality and very inappropriate sleep surfaces (ie a couch). Back sleeping help reduce risk a bit.

    We all take our chances whenever we have a baby. And I actually did lose a baby to stillbirth, so I know that even the best precautions sometimes fail. We all have a chance that we will lose one of precious babies to early death. But to waste the happy family time we do have together with endless worrying and precautions is so foolish.

    If you are a non-smoking family with reasonably good nutrition and a healthy home, you should not be hyperventilating if you can’t check off every box on the SIDS prevention checklist. Try to breastfeed (because it does help), pay attention to keeping chemicals and molds away from baby, try to get em to sleep on their back. But if you just can’t pull off one of these things, then just get through those early months any way you can, and try to enjoy the baby without too much anxiety. Cause chances are, you’ll be fine.

  49. Travis September 14, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

    Okay, so it’s definitely a stretch, but this honestly reminds me of a quote in Dune by Frank Herbert. It was something like “Shield your son too much, and he won’t grow strong enough to fulfill /any/ destiny” I read this when I was in high school and it stuck with me, and I do believe it’s what our approach to parenting respects, and what most people do not seem capable of understanding.

    Especially now that I’m reading this. My son /hides/ in the hamper when he’s frightened. Why would I take his little safe place from him? He’s fine.

  50. Montreal Dad September 15, 2015 at 12:37 am #
  51. Montreal Dad September 15, 2015 at 12:38 am #

    If you’re not scared enough, you’re not spending enough…

  52. LKR September 15, 2015 at 1:09 am #

    “It makes it sound like kids are nothing more than danger-seeking missiles, intent on harming themselves.”

    Sounds about right to me. Forget about the “terrible twos,” I called 18 months to about 3 years “the suicidal stage”, because seemed like that was freqently their sole goal.

  53. Heath September 15, 2015 at 2:10 am #

    I have a suggestion on the detergent pod example. Don’t be a dumb@$$ and put potentially dangerous things in a container that a kid associates with eating. It says the mom put them in a snack bag, so the 2 year-old thought they were a snack. Would you put bleach in sippy cup, and then proceed to say bleach is a “hidden danger” when your toddler mistakes it for milk/water?

  54. Brooke September 15, 2015 at 2:58 am #

    My favorite one is that there’s a choking hazard warning on Pop! Funko figures which are bigger than the average adult fist.

  55. Crystal September 15, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    How do we expect our children to develop empathy and compassion if they never even know what getting hurt feels like? I’m not suggesting we drop them off the cliff so as to break bones but nurture their souls. I’m suggesting we pay attention to children the world over who are starving to death, getting chased our of their homes by terrorists, dying from preventable diseases and being warehoused in orphanages instead of obsessing over bubble-wrapping our own.

  56. Havva September 15, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    I was just reading an article on letting kids do (and screw up) chores. Let’s see… It advised letting toddlers put clothing in the hamper. Letting them do the laundry at 6 (OMG detergent pods!). Help prepare meals at 6-11 (what if there’s a blender*?)! And they even suggest school age kids can clean up their own messes… (with out warning about spray bottles). Then it goes on to suggest that 12 and up can do just about anything (without warning not to let them near a hard candy, or medicine, or … or… oh the poor endangered children!)

    Here is the crazy article suggesting we should want our kids to become “competent”. Rather than wanting safe little lumps that still can’t be trusted with a candy at 12.

    *though seriously, immersion blenders lack the safety features to which most people are accustomed. And they can be accidentally turned on. Adults can and do screw up when trying to clear jams and whatnot. So do teach your kid to unplug it (or disconnect the blade from the motor) before putting fingers near the blade.

  57. lollipoplover September 15, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    I hope Parents Magazine never visits my house…
    Just entering the garage, you’d encounter slingshots, cross bows, pogo sticks, stilts, circular saws, roller blades, longboards, baseball bats, nail guns, and hammers.
    Yet, we’ve only been to the ER twice in the 14 years of had kids.

  58. jennifer September 15, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    some of these comments are dangerously close to “my kids survived so who the heck needs any new fangled information”. We teach new parents how to use the car seat correctly because a good number of them don’t even know how to hold a baby or change a diaper – a car seats are somewhat more complicated than that. We teach how to minimize SIDS risks because those children that are at risk of SIDS don’t come with a stamp on their forehead saying so – so the little things like leaving pillows and stuffed animals out of the crib (heaven forbid) or putting them down on their backs (they sleep more soundly if you use a halo sleep sack swaddle) can be life or death for a random and otherwise unidentifiable subset. And, most importantly, do not appreciably affect the life experience of others (unlike helicoptering). As the saying goes you (or your kids) might be just fine, but the ones who aren’t aren’t here to tell us that.

  59. jennifer September 15, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    @Havva Sounds like a typical day at our house. My 11.5 year old is perfectly capable of running just about every aspect of household management. My 14 yr old most certainly is. The almost 17 yr old claims that he isn’t, but if there is no one around he somehow magically figures things out ;-).

  60. lollipoplover September 15, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    “some of these comments are dangerously close to “my kids survived so who the heck needs any new fangled information”

    Not at all. I have a healthy respect for well designed studies that show true dangers to children and used car seats, and seat belts. I also use hampers, laundry detergent (not pods), spray bottles, magnets, hard candy, and blenders. Having paranoid and hyper-worried parents is not good for raising children. Nor are absurd age limits without regard to an individual child’s ability and skill set.

    As the saying goes, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what a ship is made for.”

  61. Coccinelle September 15, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

    Reading the comments about SIDS, something was nagging me all day. I finally remember what it was. There was a study that said that it’s not sleeping on the stomach that is dangerous for babies, it’s always sleeping on the back and then something happens (typically another caregiver than usual but can also be life) and the baby is put to sleep on his stomach and just doesn’t have the musculature to withstand it.

  62. John S Green September 15, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    Immersion blenders are a great learning tool, besides baby can then cook a laundry hamper puree for din-din… perhaps with a side of shredded sweet tarts and minced good n plenty.

    On a half serious note, my daughter would play hide and seek with grandma Green and the hamper was a favorite hiding place with stinky towel draped over head… she didn’t stay in one place long as a moving target made the game often last past bed-time!

  63. BL September 15, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

    “some of these comments are dangerously close to ‘my kids survived so who the heck needs any new fangled information'”

    Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf.

    When we’re bombarded with scary warnings about things that we never knew to cause death or serious injury, either in our experience as parents or in our own childhoods, we may reject the one or two that have some merit.

  64. Papilio September 15, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

    Was that your book, Lenore, that had a story about how SIDS suddenly spiked in my country in the late seventies or so, and then they investigated it and found out it was due to some sort of new baby blanket that was actually *recommended*?
    I remember the story because one stupid stupid commenter then asked if, after finding this out, the Dutch health department (or whoever) actually corrected their mistake and warned parents. Uh, no, I’m sure they were perfectly happy letting otherwise healthy newborns die *eye roll*

  65. BPFH September 15, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    My wife and I used to subscribe to Parents–quite a while ago (I think we let the subscription lapse when my son was 2 or maybe 3). We ditched the subscription after a couple of particularly bad articles.

    The first was a scare piece about kids riding in cars. The thrust of the article was basically, OMG they’ve all got to be in the back seat until at least age 12 or they’re gonna DIE, and there ought to be a law…! …to which my response was, I was 5’9″ and 140 lbs. (or 175 cm and 63.5 kg for you SI folks) at age 12, so I was taller and heaver than a lot of adult women. If I should have been relegated to the back seat, so should *you*, most likely.

    The second was on childhood obesity, and made a blanket statement that a child whose weight was 95th percentile or higher was obese… which ignores both height and build. I actually wrote a letter to the editor at that point, though I doubt that it was ever published–can’t have someone taking away from the fear fear fear narrative, after all.

    So this article doesn’t surprise me at all.

    That having been said, I wouldn’t let the kids play in laundry hampers anyway. The CATS play in the laundry hampers, they have five pointy ends, and they don’t like unexpected company. 🙂

    Oh, and @Jan: “letting your child sleep WITHOUT a pacifier”? ROTFLMAO. Neither of my kids would even TAKE a pacifier. We gave one to my son, who sucked away on it for a bit, realized that there was nothing coming out of it, and then promptly stuck out his tongue and pushed it out. My daughter did basically the same thing (only I think she didn’t even bother to suck on it, she just promptly ejected it).

  66. tdr September 15, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

    My ex father in law cut the bottom out of the laundry hamper and a hole in the floor below it. Laundry in the hamper would go straight to the basement. Woe to the small visitor who tried to play hide and seek by hiding in the laundry hamper.

    That’s the only way I can imagine a laundry hamper being dangerous.

    Of course if they were following the rules of the house (no hiding in closets!?) They avoided the danger.

  67. A reader September 16, 2015 at 7:56 am #

    I once got a nasty cut on my leg requiring stitches from one of those hampers. Not because they’re soooo dangerous, but because I was stupid and didn’t throw the thing out as soon as it started fraying around the wires. So now, I just keep an eye out and if I see the material fraying, I throw it out an get a new one. The end. Yay for common sense. Everything on this list is dangerous if you’re going to be stupid. And sure, some things like cleaning fluid and hard candies need to be kept away from toddlers, but that doesn’t mean it’s dangerous for teens! Sheesh!

  68. FRM September 16, 2015 at 4:51 pm #


  69. CrazyCatLady September 16, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

    Virginia, that is perfect! Next year when doing state testing, I can tell the teachers that they are endangering my son’s life if they give him lollipops during the testing. Because, hard candy! And, do have ANY idea how many kids a year fall with them in their mouth and end up needing surgery on their throat? I don’t either…but IT HAS HAPPENED, therefore we must protect! Won’t somebody please think of the children? Instead of the stupid test scores?

    Really though…sugar just hypes my son up and gives him a shorter attention span. Which is the opposite of what they think they are doing. Give him a jerky stick….much softer!

  70. Joel Arbic September 21, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

    We live in the safest time in human history for children (at least in the Western world)…. and yet, fear-mongering makes for good press. I’m all for improving the safety of products in general, but not for scaring everyone about things that are statistically insignificant. This crap drives me crazy.