“Worst-First” From Birth

Hi enaffnrsab
Folks! Got this letter I liked a lot. It’s from a reader named Kimberly Anderson, who describes herself as “a cheerfully misanthropic mom of three in Lexington, Kentucky.” — L

Dear Free-Range Kids:  I have a six month old. I also have a 4 year old and a 6 year old. Now that I’m a Free-Ranger I’m noticing something about all this baby gear that I didn’t the first few times around. Everything is covered with WARNING labels forcing terrifying thoughts into your head at every turn!

Carseat: FALL HAZARD! Ditto the Bouncy Seat. Stroller: STRANGULATION HAZARD! Baby Gym: ENTANGLEMENT! And the biggest downer, the big DROWNING HAZARD sticker ruining the playful mood at bath time. First I tried turning the bath around so that the sticker wasn’t in my view, but it really was a hazard trying to bathe the girl left-handed. Next I tried to rip the sticker off, but that sucker is really on there.

All this to say that NO WONDER parents are afraid of the highly unlikely worst when they’re reminded of it multiple times a day from the minute they get baby home. I’m just waiting for the day the WARNING sticker is applied directly to the baby before you’re allowed to leave the hospital. – K.A.

Lenore here: It’s that potent combo of fear of lawsuits and fear of worst-case-scenario that makes companies warn, warn, warn. But I totally agree: It habitates parents to thinking that if they’re not envisioning the death of their child, they’re not doing their job right. 

WARNING: Baby in pram! Anything could happen!

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100 Responses to “Worst-First” From Birth

  1. BalancingJane October 14, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    I remember staring at the big “No Sleep!” warning label sewn into the Boppy pillow when I was nursing my then-newborn daughter. I felt like it was mocking me, because “no sleep” was definitely an accurate description of our goings-on.

  2. Binxcat1 October 14, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    OMG!!! A bear… or WORSE a DEER could come running out of those bushes and devour/trample the child to death!!! 😉

  3. Silver Fang October 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    It makes me wonder how generations of babies managed to survive to adulthood before now.

  4. Myriam October 14, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    It seems my 5-year-old has been noticing the fact that SO many products are labelled dangerous for under threes. He made me laugh the other day when he observed out of the blue: “If you’re zero to three you can’t have NOTHING”.
    The labels don’t bother me though personally.

  5. dinaclare October 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    I work in the medical device industry writing user manuals, and most of the warnings and cautions that go in there are imposed by regulators. Wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case for children’s goods, too.

    Unfortunately you reach a point where there are so many warnings in a manual and plastered to the side of a device that pretty soon, you just stop NOTICING them. And when the warnings you don’t notice are ones that are actually important… well, that’s a hell of a problem.

  6. Danielle October 14, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    Its because of the stupid law suits!! Companies can more easily cover their butts if they “warned” you about every imaginable disaster before it happens. Then it’s not their fault.

  7. Denise October 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    Hilarious, but also sad that it’s hilarious, if that makes sense. I have THE most adorable photos (if I say so myself!) of both my boys as newborns, all bundled into their Winnie the Pooh bunting, ready for their first trip out of the house, and strapped into their brand new Graco carseat. The only thing that mars the picture is that giant “YOUR BABY MIGHT DIE SOON” sticker hovering near their cherubic cheek. (And of course what I was doing — having the carseat sitting on the table while I took their picture — was one thing the sticker warns against. Don’t you know, if you leave a carseat on a table, it might spontaneously bounce or roll off.

  8. Robin H October 14, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    Danielle, they only add the warnings after they’ve been sued for something, because most of the time it’s things they would never imagine happening. My husband works in the power tool industry and their manual is chock full of all sorts of warnings which I’m sure no one reads. it’s a huge cost to the consumer.

    Have you ever read the warnings on a step ladder? Or a blow dryer?They’re hilarious, but every single one represents something that someone actually did and might have sued them for.

    Kimberly, I would recommend large colorful stickers to put over the warning labels.

  9. Stephanie October 14, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    @denise I did nearly kill my little brother when he was under a year and sitting in his car seat on the kitchen table, which was one of those pedestal style tables. I was 5 or 6 and tried to climb up on to the table to see him, and the weight of both me and his car seat caused the table, the car seat and me to go crashing to the floor. the car seat of course landed baby side down and being ’86 or so, he hit his head.

    Really though the table should be blamed.

  10. TRS October 14, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    It is to protect the maker of the product from lawsuits. Nothing more and nothing less. It did not put the fear in be but made me aware of possible things that could happen if I was an idiot with the product. See nothing wrong with it.

  11. Caro October 14, 2011 at 9:00 pm #


    Yes! I hated that stupid Boppy warning. NEVER let baby sleep on pillow! NEVER put baby on side or belly!

    As an added bonus, I’m bilingual so the stupid thing mocked me in English and Spanish.

  12. antsy October 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    Reading Stephanie’s story……of course, we just need a law that says babies must wear helmets while buckled into carseats if they are not secured inside a vehicle. (I’m not serious, okay?!) I did watch my cousin who was carrying a carseat by an angled handle dump his baby right out onto the living room floor. His wife shrieked, but the baby was fine after a little cry!

  13. Heather G October 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    Stephanie, my two year old nearly kills his 6 month old sister on a daily basis. Often multiple times a day. It usually is when he is trying to be affectionate.

    About warning labels on kids: When my oldest was born the hospital put a piece of paper with a bunch of baby-care warnings underneath the baby in the bassinet. Not that I had any opportunity to violate any of the warnings with people coming in my room to check on us every ten minutes. The warning paper was conspicuously missing the second time around, but there was a “baby care basics” class before we were discharged.

  14. therese October 14, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    I have a flyer that my son brought home from school. I want to share it with you and your readers but can’t find anywhere on here to email you. If you could email me @ therese.chambers@gmail.com or let me know where to upload it here…it’s all about NOT being a hellicopter parent….which I thought was amazing for a school counselor to send home!

  15. Nanci October 14, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    How fortunate those families are who are living in third world countries and those who lived in the past, they didn’t have to worry about such dangerous items as drop side cribs, bouncy seats, and infant swings!!! Back then, they only had to worry about such mundane things as open fires in the kitchen, wild animal attacks, famines, and harsh climates, and I’m betting those things didn’t come with giant warning labels!

    The funniest I ever saw was on a new chi I bought to straighten my hair. It said not to use on eyebrows or eyelashes!!! 🙂

  16. Steve C. October 14, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    We’re living in the Middle-East where the stores have a mixture of baby products sourced from both the USA and Europe.

    We’ve stopped buying American products for the very reason mentioned in the post – they are literally covered in ugly, repetitive, immovable warning labels (to the point that you wonder why the manufacturers spent any effort styling the products, when they were only going to ruin it with labels!)

    The European products come with as many warnings, but at least they are placed in the product manual or on the packaging, and not on the product itself (for the most part).

    It’s a sad state of affairs when everyone is assumed to be either (a) an idiot, or (b) a potential litigant.

  17. Dirge October 14, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    This reminds me of a call I got when I worked at a store in college. A guy called on behalf of his wife wanting to know if we carried any car seats without warning labels sewn into the fabric. She did not like the way it looked. I told them that ever car seat would has them, it is just standard. He pleaded with me for a while because it was so important that the look of the car seat not be sullied by a warning (my interpretation). Eventually he gave up when she told him she found some material she could use to cover it that matched.

  18. Meghan Rosenbaum October 14, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    My daughter is in Kindergarten, and they’re going to start sitting on stability balls in class. I laughed out loud this morning when I had to sign a permission slip saying that I understood the inherent risks of sitting on a ball filled with air.

  19. pentamom October 14, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    “The funniest I ever saw was on a new chi I bought to straighten my hair. It said not to use on eyebrows or eyelashes!!! :)”

    My favorite one was the cell phone that instructed me not to dry it in the microwave. Sure, you KNOW someone’s tried that, but the dumb thing is that anyone dumb enough to do something like that is a “can’t tell me nothing” type who doesn’t regulate his life by warning labels anyway. It’s not actually there to “warn” people. My husband calls them “lawyer-repellant.”

  20. socalledauthor October 14, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    Unfortunately, the people who most need to be reminded not to be stupid with their children are the ones who disregard warnings/ warning labels anyway. Used to be that a consumer who suffered due to misuse of a product would be considered at fault, not the company that “allowed” or at least didn’t specifically prohibit, the misuse. Sometimes it feels like foolish people are pushing our government the same way companies have been pushed– towards “protecting” us from every possible stupid thing a person could do.

    My son has a handful of board books that are actually labeled for ages 3 and up. For the life of my, I can’t figure out what the “danger” is. They even have tabs on the edges of the pages to make it easier for clumsy little baby fingers to turn the pages!

  21. Kate October 14, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    When I was in Australia at a kanga petting zoo, I leaned in to pet a pig and got bit. My best friend (an Aussie) was like, “You idiot… why’d you do that?” My response?

    “Well, there wasn’t a sign that said not to!”

    “Oh my gawd… I’m such an American.” *hangs head*

    For the record, I was 25 years old at the time.

  22. Liesl Taner October 14, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    I sleep my babies on their tummy! So there!

  23. racheljoyhatten October 14, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    It’s so sadly true! We’re expecting our first, and I get headaches looking at things to buy for baby. “Buy this so this doesn’t happen!” “Make sure you do this so this doesn’t happen!” “Baby could die if you don’t do this!” I know warning labels are for the lawsuits, but I’m also suspicious of the fact that many things seem to want to persuade me to buy them for the ‘safety’ of the child. I suppose it’s what happens when we collectively lose our common sense.

  24. Sarah Kingan October 14, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

    I swear, our co-sleeper was entirely covered with paragraphs of warnings in every language imaginable. They should just make sheets printed with “warning!” “cuidado!” “achtung!” instead of froggies and turtles.

  25. pentamom October 14, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    Meghan — then it’s rather funny that they call them “stability balls,” isn’t it? LOL

  26. Jennifer October 14, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    How appropriate this post is today for me. Last night I had mentioned in a new moms discussion group that I planned to raise a free range kid but that it’s easy to talk a big game when she’s just 4 months old and stays where I put her. Irony of ironies, she’s starting to move around a lot more in her crib and I still have in the ‘killer bumpers’ that we’re warned so much about. I couldn’t sleep last night because I was worried she would get her face up against it and suffocate. And today I’ll be so tired, I’ll probably be at greater risk of doing something more harmful than a stupid bumper would.

  27. Bob October 14, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    If the ugly warning sticker is on a plastic or metal part, you can remove it with Goo Gone. It dissolves the adhesive so the sticker peels off without leaving any residue or damaging anything. (No, Goo Gone is not paying me to endorse their product, although they probably should.)

  28. Arnebya October 14, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

    I try my best to keep the bad thoughts/visions at bay but they seep through anyway. Warning labels & recalls & my friend’s cousin’s neighbor’s sister’s brother-in-law’s coworker’s baby died & I always let my baby do what that baby died from…tuning out doesn’t always work. All I can do is not succumb to the fear.

  29. momentsofexhilaration October 15, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    Ugh! The warning labels are just the beginning. There are so many crazy products to “protect” baby from all kinds of ghoulies. Pacifier wipes? Knee pads for when baby starts crawling? Bumpers for every conceivable corner in the house. I know people who are literally getting rid of their coffee table and other large furniture because they’re afraid baby will bump his head. Seriously?! Your baby is smarter than you give him credit for. My little girl bumped her head maybe twice and then she learned! I feel like other parents look at me like I’m a bad mom when they come over and see that the house isn’t baby-proofed up the wazoo…

  30. SKL October 15, 2011 at 12:21 am #

    What I hate about those labels is that they are always in your face and you can’t remove them. I felt so defiant scraping one off of a piece of baby furniture years ago. Sorry, but it didn’t go with the nursery decor! Besides, I wasn’t planning on putting my infant up on a piece of furniture and walking away!

    My kids’ car booster seats have those obnoxious warnings on the part of the headrest that points forward. It’s so ugly, and I can’t remove it. I can understand a warning tag, but make it removeable!

    Big Brother is Reminding You!!

  31. kimsch October 15, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    Here is a picture of me at about 1 year old in my walker. This would be about 1963. It’s amazing I survived! 🙂

  32. Robin October 15, 2011 at 12:33 am #

    Sarah – they can print the warnings on the baby’s sleepers, too. Maybe we should design a line of “Warning Clothes” – just read your baby’s shirt to see what you’re doing wrong!

  33. robynheud October 15, 2011 at 12:33 am #

    If I hadn’t let our son sleep on the boppy, none of us would have slept and we have some adorable pictures of him curled up on it. And we never strapped him into the bouncer (when he was swaddled it would have been impossible anyway) and he never fell out. I cut the warning tags off everything I can and pull the stickers off where I can as well. Covering with other stickers or fabrics is a great idea.

  34. Library Diva October 15, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    These comments remind me of working at a large department story (like Macy’s, but not Macy’s) years ago. It was a two-story store with an escalator between the floors. It also had stairs and an elevator, but they were harder to find, whereas the escalator was designed to be the centerpiece of the store.

    It broke while I was working there, and they actually pulled one of the associates from her normal folding/cashout duties to stand at the bottom of the escalator and warn people that the escalator was broken and to use it as stairs. It was the stupidest thing. They had a sign, too, and I can’t imagine how one could hurt themselves trying to use the escalator as an escalator. Wouldn’t they just stand on the bottom step and then start climbing when they realized they weren’t going anywhere?

  35. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 1:26 am #

    See this does not bother me. I can easily ignore and overlook the warning labels. And honestly a lot of parents NEED warning labels. A lot of parents put kids in bouncy seats or car seats on tables or counters and yes, they fall off. That actually happens a lot. There are some parents who really just don’t think. So I have no problem with the warning labels.

  36. SKL October 15, 2011 at 1:33 am #

    The thing about the ever-present warning labels, though, is that at this point, who even sees them? I’ve trained myself to not see them because they are so aggravating.

  37. Mary October 15, 2011 at 1:58 am #

    I suppose they put them on for legal reasons, so that if someone sues because they didn’t use common sense, the company will have a legal defense. However, I wonder if they insidiously replace common sense. A comic example: my young son’s foam weapons (sword and hammer) both have an imprinted warning about not using the weapons to hit people and animals. He, therefore, argues (jokingly, fortunately) that he may use anything which does not have a warning on it to hit whomever or whatever he likes.

  38. justanotherjen October 15, 2011 at 2:21 am #

    After 5 kids, the warning labels are just a blur. My mind automatically filters them out. I do remember the first carseat we got back in 2000 had a sticker on the fabric part warning about proper use and never leave baby unattended and blah, blah, blah. I pulled half of it off but the rest was really stuck on. 10 years later and the seat we got our 5th child has the same label but it’s sewn on so you can’t get it off.

    Alternately the stickers on the sides that explain the proper use of rear facing an infant until at least 20lbs AND 1 year and the weight/height limits (which are actually important once you toss the box and lose the dang manual) have scraped off on my carseat. I went to check the limits and that is the one part you can’t read and I have no idea where the booklet is (it fell off the carseat after a few uses).

    Everything those labels warn against we did with at least one of our kids. Our youngest has slept on a pillow since birth although we had to stop for a couple months once he learned to roll (at 3 1/2 months) because he kept ending up face down in it. But once he got better at rolling and had more head control we gave him the pillow back. He’s 15 months (today, in fact) and he has 2 throw pillows and about 5 small blankets in his crib. And he’s had them since he was born. My 5yo slept in her pack n play until she was 2 and to make it more comfortable we layered a bunch of old squished pillows under her so she had 3 twin sized pillows and about 4 blankets (receiving and fleece squares) in there. She survived and will be 6 in April and still sleeps with like 5 blankets on her bed, lol.

    Oh, and my 9yo daughter used to sleep with this old receiving blanket over her face. From the time she was a couple months old and could grab it and pull it over her face that was her preferred way to sleep. Of course, I freaked at first and would try and pull it off which woke her every single time and she wouldn’t fall back asleep until she put the blanket back over her face. I can’t count how many people absolutely went bat-shit crazy when they saw her sleeping like that and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t freaking out, too, and immediately taking all blankets away to save her from smothering herself. Oy. She’s 9 now (or will be next month) and still sleeps with a blanket over her face most of the time. She’s just weird like that.

  39. Lollipoplover October 15, 2011 at 2:25 am #

    My favorite warning was on the baby rectal thermometer: “Do not use orally after using rectally.”
    It still didn’t stop my husband from accidentally using it when he felt feverish.

  40. Matt October 15, 2011 at 2:26 am #

    Strangely enough, the consumer products around a baby are probably, statisically speaking, more like to harm it than a stranger-danger encounter.

  41. Arianne October 15, 2011 at 3:12 am #

    Off topic, but I really liked this: http://www.blogher.com/playdate-park?from=nethed

  42. socalledauthor October 15, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    Dolly– how much are those warning labels really helping, though? The labels are printed all over bounces, car seats, etc and parents STILL put their child on the table and sometimes the kid manages to fall off. Is it even making a difference? That’s the big question.

    My son’s infant swing had several warnings on it to never use it without fully buckling the child into the swing. My husband and I took a “chance” by swaddling our son and laying him in the swing to sleep (it was the ONLY way he’d sleep– honestly, this child didn’t sleep in the car, in his bed, in my bed, in my arms, anywhere, but swaddled in his swing for the first 4 months). But since he was swaddled, we couldn’t get the crotch strap between his legs to secure him. Given the choice between the baby not sleeping or risking that this otherwise inert bundle of baby was going to somehow worm his way out of the bucket-seat of the swing, we chose the “risk.” Luckily, he never fell out, but it was a risk I felt necessary. That’s a huge part of parenting is picking which risks are acceptable or necessary (like driving in a car)… however, there are people who are more than happy to try to outlaw such parental choice– or at least being really nasty and judgemental to those choices they disagree with. =/

  43. Marie October 15, 2011 at 4:12 am #

    I hardly notice the labels anymore. Too many of them, and too many of the warnings are what should have been common sense. That they aren’t is a really scary thought sometimes.

  44. racheleh October 15, 2011 at 4:51 am #

    My zombie baby likes to lick the warning label in her carseat… I keep waiting for her to ask me to put ketchup on it

  45. The Laundry Lady October 15, 2011 at 5:14 am #

    I think what I find most ironic is that most warning labels for pack and plays, swings and bouncers (even bassinets and cribs some times) say “never leave a child unattended.” If I can’t leave my child unattended in any of the above items so that I can take a shower, do a load of laundry or use the bathroom, why exactly did I purchase those items to begin with?

  46. Cheryl M October 15, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    My 4 year old son was VERY puzzled as to why the baby in the infant car seat at the table next to ours had an “air bag warning” sign on his car seat. (it wasn’t, it was some other warning sign) We told him that the sign in the car was just a “caution” sign for air bags, he just couldn’t figure out how that applied to a baby. And they all look the same.

  47. Shana R. October 15, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    The worst part of all the warning labels is that a new, first-time mom like me has a terrible time sorting out what’s *actually* important, and what’s just more hysteria. My pediatrician must think I’m nuts because our visits always include a quick listing of “are any of these really things I should be worried about”…

  48. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    I guess the labels for one thing protect the companies in law suits and that helps me out because the less lawsuits the cheaper the company can charge for their products. Lawsuits cost all consumers because it raises prices.

    Secondly, even if one parent rethinks sitting the bouncy seat on the kitchen counter it is probably worth it.

  49. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    I mean honestly folks. Life is too short to get pissy about a stupid label on a car seat. Who cares!? Just ignore it, pull it off if you want, cover it up, whatever. Big whoop.

  50. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Arianne: that is an awesome blog post. Thanks for linking to it. I enjoyed it. I totally can feel where that mom is coming from sometimes. I was at a children’s museum and a mother would not let her child play in the giant vat of bubble solution to make bubbles on the rooftop fun factory, because God Forbid he might get his outfit messy! Why take your kid to a freaking children’s museum if you are not going to let them play!!!!??? Seriously!? Sure scold your child for getting dirty before church, but on the playground or at a children’s museum!? Just stupidity.

    I buy my kids cheap walmart play clothes so I don’t care if they ruin a shirt. Big whoop it cost 3 dollars. I can get another one if I have to.

  51. Robin October 15, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Dolly, you have it backwards. My husband has worked in the consumer goods manufacturing sector for more than 20 years at 2 different companies. Most of the warnings are added after someone files a lawsuit. At that point all of the manuals that accompany a product have to be revised as well as all of the product warning labels. This means pulling product off the shelf to be relabeled. It’s a huge cost to the companies that is definitely passed on to you.

  52. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Robin: Thanks for informing me. Well then I guess they need to be smarter about putting labels on before someone does something stupid, then sues!

  53. Darcy Troutman October 15, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    Dear Free Range Kids – I just received this crazy email about not letting kids play outside, the comments are especially scary – lots of parents not letting their children play OUTSIDE until the ages of 10 or 11. please please post this. http://www.circleofmoms.com/article/what-age-should-children-left-outside-alone-00790?trk=digest_editorial_790&email_enc=mMOqzuOnq9bf2s7Hz6bJoq2hw6HXmJao1A%253D%253D&email_src=1318620246f7d5a9d8788b20d707ac2488d208e162&template_name=digest_weekly_2&subject_id=1745&has_fb=1.
    thank you!

  54. Darcy Troutman October 15, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    follow up from comment above – “MIne did not go outside by themselves til about 10 or 12 and then only in the yard. They had to be teens to go out and ride int the neighborhood. My 16 year old is still required to check in every once in awhile, crime happens everywhere” Seriously???

  55. LRH October 15, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    I thought this was funny, it definitely is “free range” for sure, if not necessarily relevant to this specific thread.

    Preschool Escapee Makes Solo Trek Home

    By the way Arianne I liked your link as well. I agree with the article, and in fact one of the things I get tired of hearing at the playground: “no running.” My goodness, the kids are outdoors at a playground and/or park, a place designed FOR running, there’s plenty of room–and a parent actually yells “no running?” I see that and I can’t help think–what are you, psycho? (That’s what I’m thinking regarding parents who do that.)

    Well, to make it more relevant to the post: one of the things I did with BOTH of our kids, from birth, was decide that we would not fall for “worst-first” thinking in terms of thinking we had to be there every second 24/7. Instead, among other things, they would sleep in THEIR OWN ROOM and do so from the FIRST DAY. I had close friends tell me I needed to move our bedroom, which is on the other end of the house from the kid’s bedroom, so we could listen in on them while we were in bed. Not a chance, I said. Last time I checked, kids or no, my bedroom was for SLEEPING, and that’s what I intended to do in there.

    And I did, even with them as infants.

    Don’t get me wrong, we did the midnight feeding thing, kids obviously aren’t old enough until age 3 months or so to sleep through the night. I would set the alarm clock to get me up & I’d go in there and feed our child, even if it meant waking them up. Once fed, burped etc, I put them back to bed, and went back to bed myself (with the alarm set to go off again in 4 hours or so). I couldn’t hear a thing at all from our room, and that was ON PURPOSE. I did have a baby monitor connected, but I often-times switched it off or turned off the sound & went by the flickering lights.

    Also, when we would put them down for naps mid-day, we didn’t rock them to sleep, we put them down and walked off, left them to their own devices. Yes they sometimes cried for a minute or two, but then they’d cease and fall asleep effortlessly. When they got a little older to where they would eat chopped-up food, I would put them in their room while I did so if, upon them seeing me prepare the food, they started freaking out because it took a few minutes to prepare. Once they would watch me and wait without tugging at me, I let them stay in the room.

    They did fine, just as I knew they would. They are now 2½ and 4½, and they almost always go to bed real easily, and wake up not freaking out either, and they get plenty of love in-between. They eat when we feed them, without tugging at my pants leg trying to rush me along, they know the food will arrive and their needs will be met. There’s plenty of play, including outdoor play where I let them frolic in the mud and dirt to their heart’s content. It’s working great.

    Our nieces-nephews, who are OLDER? They’ve been in mommy-daddy’s bed since birth because of the “what if something happens while I’m sleeping & I miss it” fears they subscribe to. Thus, some of them are now EIGHT years old and are scared to sleep alone. I decided from the get-go–it was NOT going to be like THAT in our house.

    Those are the sorts of benefits you get when you DON’T subscribe to “worst-first from birth” thinking.


  56. EricS October 15, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    Lol! Luv that post.

  57. RP October 15, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    I’m a brand-new mom of a 1 month old (though I’ve been reading this blog for years) and so far, my favorite baby warning I’ve read is a warning for death by suffocation on a muslin blanket!

  58. Taradlion October 15, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    Ahhh, the best warning ever is the one on the reflective car sun shield that covers inside of windshield: “Do not drive with sun visor in place”.

    The warnings may be to protect companies, but I wonder if they also add to blame on parents and caregivers when the rare accident does happen.

    A close friend is expecting her third baby. Her older kids are 9 and 6…topic of conversation, her top of the line drop-side crib (she’s barely 5 feet tall)….

  59. J* October 15, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    Not entirely on a free range topic, but something free-rangers are no doubt interested in. Mother convicted for allowing ten year old to witness animal euthanasia.


  60. Meagan October 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    I used to find the warning label on the baby bath alarming… until I imagined “! WARNING: DO NOT THROW OUT THE BABY WITH THE BATHWATER!” At the bottom. Now I just laugh.

  61. francesfromCanada October 15, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    Jennifer — the latest thinking about SIDS is that it may be due to an increase in exhaled CO2 around the baby’s face suppressing an immature respiratory system. Some research even correlates using a fan with lower risk. So the bumpers aren’t just about getting her face in them, it’s about impeding airflow. Hard to say how much risk is actually due to bumpers themselves, but how much risk I personally am willing to tolerate depends on how high the consequence is vs how problematic changing my current practice is. SIDS scared me more than decorative bumpers were pleasing. Easy decision.

    The drop-side crib, though? That I kept.

    Bob — olive oil works too. But I like the idea of putting a sticker over a warning label better, especially a removable one. Take it off when the item goes to the consignment store, then they can legally sell it.

    I’m with Meagan. Some of these warnings are pretty funny…lots of ways we never thought of to get in trouble with baby equipment! But honestly — with the exception of the car seat, if a piece of equipment needs so many warnings, maybe I don’t need to buy it.

  62. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    If you really feel you need bumpers you can get safe kinds. They have mesh net kinds that don’t hurt airflow or you can get kinds that are like wrappers for each individual crib bar. Personally I don’t think bumpers are worth the risk of SIDS. They make it a bitch to change the crib sheet and while they are pretty, it is not worth it to me. I had bumpers and got rid of them after a few weeks of using them. I mean what purpose do they really serve?

  63. Alex October 15, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

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  64. Alex October 15, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

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  65. Surviving in sweden October 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

    Our American highchair warned that it shouldn’t be used as a car seat. My sil thought we should call them and double check if we could use it as a bike seat.

    I was surprised we didn’t need to tattoo ‘don’t leave baby unattended’ on our child to take him to an American playground 🙂

  66. Paula Burton October 16, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    O Pearl,’ I said, ‘in pearls bedight,
    Are you my pearl for whom I cried,
    For whom I grieved alone at night ?
    Much longing I for you have sighed
    Since into grass you left my sight.
    Sorrow and grief with me reside
    While you remain in true delight
    In Paradise, in peace to abide.
    What fate did now my pearl betide
    And left me here in grief and care ?
    Since you were severed from my side
    I am a joyless jeweller.’

    That jewel then in gems arrayed
    Lifted to me those eyes of grey,
    And donned her crown, of jewels made,
    And gravely then I heard her say:
    ‘Sir, your conclusion is mislaid
    To say your pearl has fled away,
    That is in such a casket laid
    As in this gracious garden gay,
    To dwell in joy in endless day;
    Never can loss or grief come near.
    No pearl in such a casket lay,
    ‘Twould seem, for any jeweller.’

    This is from a medievel poem called the Pearl, the jewel he is talking about is his small daughter who has died. IN an age when 50% of children died before they died one man wrote a poem full of such emotions that can make you cry. They didn’t have the luxury of being so neurotic about their children but it didn’t mean they loved them any less.

  67. Dolly October 16, 2011 at 6:20 am #

    LOL I had two Bebe pod seats for the boys and there was a warning on them that said “Not to be used as car seats.” I really really really hope no one was stupid enough to use that as a car seat so that made the company have to put that label on there. Hopefully that was a preemptive warning label. God, if you were in a car wreck and had your kid just balancing on the back seat in one of those things…..well…….best not to think about such horrible things. We found that warning funny. Gave us a good laugh.

  68. Laura October 16, 2011 at 7:25 am #

    I’m currently really annoyed at one of these stickers. It is in the crib we bought for our new baby (not yet here) and it is on the INSIDE LEFT TOP RAIL. You know, right where it will get chewed when he starts to pull to standing and chew on the rail. And it is stuck on so well, I cannot just peel it off. I’m going to have to scrape it off, with all the attendant damage to the rail.

    I’m more worried about the danger eating bits of that sticker poses than the crap they want to warn me about.

    Which isn’t much. Mostly, I’m annoyed at the hassle.

  69. Virginia October 16, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    I think the problem with so many silly warning labels is that they desensitize us to the real dangers. An example: When my son was a baby, I found out that three people I knew personally, who did not know each other, had had their babies bounce their bouncy seats off of a raised surface onto the floor. Fortunately none of them sustained any non-healable injury, but one of them actually had a skull fracture. You’d better believe I never put my kids’ bouncy seats anywhere but on the floor. So, yeah, it turns out that it’s a really bad idea to put a baby in a bouncy seat on a raised surface, and that’s something that might not be obvious to a reasonable person. But how is the intelligent consumer supposed to separate that warning from the “strangulation hazard” warning on the stroller?

  70. Virginia October 16, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    LRH, while I respect your choices regarding your family’s sleep arrangements, I think it’s a bit unfair of you to suggest that co-sleeping families are somehow insufficiently free-range. Infant sleep is such a fraught subject. We co-slept with our kids when they were babies, and I don’t think either of them slept through the night before they were five years old. And, yes, I was often sleep-deprived and wondered if we’d made a horrible mistake. But now my kids are in their teens and they sleep in their own rooms, far more soundly than I do. Based on my own personal observation over the past 15 years, I don’t think whether or not babies sleep in separate rooms or with their parents has *any* bearing on how independent they are later in life.

  71. pentamom October 16, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    That’s a really good point, Virginia. Somewhere I’ve heard a story about that — something about boys and wolves. 😉

  72. SKL October 16, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    I just remembered about my kids’ bunkbed. I had to strategically position it so that the huge ugly yellow (non-removable) warning sticker would not show from the bedroom door. Can’t remember what the sticker says – something about don’t be a dumbass and let a little tot lfall off the top bunk (which has a rail all the way around). Although I don’t have to look at it, my poor kids do. Ridiculous. And I paid a pretty penny for a nice wooden bunkbed in a particular color. I don’t recall the product description saying it was going to have an ugly-ass sticker defacing it.

  73. Cheryl W October 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    If I had paid attention to all the warnings, we never would have co-slept. (And I would have been one unhappy and tired mama.) But living in less than 800 square feet, I would not have had the opportunity to let them cry it out without me hearing. And like others, mine did not sleep though the night until older. And breast feeding on the side in bed is a wonderful thing. Getting up really sucks. (No pun intended!) I took measures to keep my babies safe and it worked well for us.

    But the nice thing about free ranging is that as the parent, you listen to your own inner voice, and you do what is right for you and your family. Not based on what others are doing, what some far placed government, or other parents think. You use the brain given to you, you think ahead and you do what is right.

    I did use those bouncers on the kitchen table. But seeing that it moved, I lodged it in a place in the middle of the table next to the wall, on top of a non-slip pad. That way, she could see us, and I could eat using both hands. If she was on the floor, she couldn’t see us and would cry. Besides, in a ten foot wide trailer, we only had butt room to move in the kitchen with the table, so being on the floor while cooking was not safe for her because of my movement needs.

  74. Paula Burton October 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Sorry I meant to say that in the medieval age where the poem I put part of was written 50% of children died before they where 5, you could be hung for theft at 7 and 16 year old’s where leading armies into war. They didn’t have the luxury of being neurotic about children but they probably cared for them as much if not more than we do now.

  75. socalledauthor October 16, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    The problem with the crib bumper fears is that, like so many fears, they are completely out of proportion. Over the course of twenty years, 27 children died as related to crib bumper pads. Only 11 of those were from actually rollling their face into the pad. 13 from getting stuck between the bumper AND another object in the crib, and 1 from the strangling on the bumper pad tie string. That’s just a little more than 1 death a year. So, why are we banning something that’s really not a risk? We don’t ban cars. Or bath tubs. Or socks without non-skid soles. But we take something with a statistically insignificant loss of life and make it to be this baby-killing predator. While it’s unfortunate those few babies did die, it also doesn’t change the fact that it has almost never happened. Your kid is more likely to die from a lightning strike than a crib bumper!

    As for the baby-sleep thing– let’s be careful making assumptions about “how it should be done” because babies are so different when it comes to sleep. When my son was young, he would cry for hours and hours, whether I rocked him in my arms, in his swing, left him in his crib, took him in the car. While your method worked for you, LRH, I can assure it didn’t work for my son. (Of course, he also didn’t sleep with us either… he just plain had trouble getting and staying asleep. We tried EVERYTHING, giving every method several days worth of exhausted attempts. Finally around 6 months, he was capable of learning to sleep, and he learned the hard way and has done well ever since, minus teething.)

    And Dolly, remember, those who are afraid of child-molesters and other minor risks ALSO use the argument of “well, if just ONE child is saved, it’s worth it!” And that argument is a very dangerous one, poised as it is on a very slippery slope.

  76. Jen G. October 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    My favorite warning is the one that comes on lawnmowers about not putting your hand under the blades when the mower is on. As if that wasn’t obvious enough! Of course, the only reason it’s on there is b/c you know someone did it!

  77. Bob Davis October 16, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    Not children related (except that there may be a warning about children under a certain age using it), but I just bought a small air-compressor at Sears, and most of the instruction booklet is devoted to “warnings” and “cautions” and “don’t evers”. Here again, we have a combination of lawyers, engineers, and congenital worrywarts reminding us that (as Harlan Ellison and/or Frank Zappa said) “The two most common things in the Universe are hydrogen and stupidity.”

  78. JenniferM October 17, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    from the label of a & w flavored lip balm… not to be eaten… keep out of the reach of children…. for ages 8 and up…. parental supervision is advised…. this is not a food product….

  79. Taradlion October 17, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    How about the maclaren strollers that were recalled because the closing mechanism could pinch (or “amputate”) babies fingers…this is NOT while the baby/toddler was riding in the stroller, but if babies put their fingers in the mechanism WHILE a parent/caregiver was closing it!…so apparently, we have to recall car doors, store automatic doors, kitchen drawers…maybe strollers shouldn’t fold…umbrellas either

  80. olympia October 17, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    I’m pretty sure this has been written about here before, and apologies for the only semi-related topic, but the number of baby products out there being pushed, not only on dubious “safety” grounds, but on the idea that no discomfort is too small to be avoided, is pretty insane. It pisses me off, because I know it’s so much about manufacturers preying on parents’ insecurities to make a buck. Witness, for example, the tub I used to bathe my nephew in, that came equipped with a temperature monitor that would tell if the water was “too hot”. What’s wrong with dipping an elbow in the bath to test the temperature? I feel like manufacturers want parents to feel as insecure as possible so they’ll buy more stuff to keep the child “safe”. And don’t get me started on wet wipe warmers!

    One trend (smallish, from what I’ve seen, but I’m wondering what others have noticed), is parents equipping their infants with full-on baby monitors, complete with video surveillance and a pad to go beneath the kid to keep track of kid’s breathing (and go off if it senses breathing has stopped). Parents are buying these for their full term, healthy babies, and I find it a little perplexing, for lack of a better word. I don’t think I could relax if I had one of these monitors- I’d be lying around just waiting for the “not breathing” alarm to go off (I’d like to know what the false alarm rate is). Anyone know how common these monitors are nowadays?

  81. Nanci October 17, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    Today I took several family members from out of town to our favorite local spot, the St. Louis City Museum. They we amazed at the danger of the place along with the lack of any kind of waiver to sign along with lack of many workers around. They were all marveling as we were swinging on a 35 foot rope swing in gigantic circles over a concrete floor with not so much as one worker anywhere in the vicinity. They loved it!!! It’s the only place I know of with no warning, no waivers, no rules, and lots of extreme danger. We all left with lots of bumps and bruises and tons of great memories. When we were there last month we left with my son’s head so bloody we had to throw away his stained shirt. He hit his head in the pitch black concrete cave area. We still all agree it’s the best place ever in the world 🙂 The creator, who sadly died a couple of weeks ago, is quoted as saying one may ascertain the success of a project by measuring the resistance of it’s bureaucracy. He was not too popular with city regulators, but loved by thousands of loyal fans sick of living with warning labels on life.

  82. Uly October 17, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    Olympia, they may be worried about SIDS, those parents.

    SIDS mostly seems to strike healthy babies, and to date we still don’t know what causes it (if we did, we wouldn’t still be calling it SIDS!), so it’s a little scary, especially when infant death is otherwise very rare in our society.

    I’m not saying it isn’t still overkill, but the reasoning does make a kind of sense.

  83. olympia October 17, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Uly- Yeah, I can’t think of any reason other than SIDS you’d want a breathing monitor under your infant, and I realize that babies who are born healthy and full term can succumb to it. I’ve just never heard of people putting such monitors under their no risk factor kids until just recently. And bear in mind- I don’t know a lot of parents who spring for such devices, so I’m not saying this is a widespread practice. But it’s definitely more common than it used to be.

  84. BMS October 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    My kids came from Guatemala. Down there, babies are almost always completely covered up when they are outside. It is their tradition. Because of this my older son just would not sleep without something over his face. They actually warned us about this custom at our pre-adoption classes because so many American parents are so indoctrinated with the ‘there shalt be nothing in the crib at all with the baby, who will be stapled onto his back’ mentality. I figured if my son had survived for 6 months with his face covered up, he’d probably survive a little longer. I had to tell huge numbers of people ‘He’s fine – leave him alone’ when they wanted me to uncover his face so he could breathe.

    My other son would not sleep unless he was on his stomach. His foster mom had put him to sleep that way the whole time, and at 5 months he wasn’t changing for anyone. Again, I figured he had survived that long, no real reason to change things. To this day, at age almost 10, he sleeps on his stomach, curled up in a ball. There is no one size fits all prescription.

  85. JustaDad October 18, 2011 at 1:23 am #

    There is a commercial about playground safety that airs here in Canada that warns parents to allow their children to do only
    “age appropriate activities” how do you define that? If my kids were more coordinated or agile at a certain age than others do I stop them because they are not supposed to do that?

    The commercial also says that parents should do a thorough check of the equipment. Well ok, but I’m not an engineer so I’m only going to see the obvious things that are wrong.

    I have had parents look at us funny when our youngest was doing things his older brothers were doing at the park because he was determined to keep up with them, he learned very quickly how do things others his age couldn’t do. Did we stop him? NO we watched and made sure he was capable.

    God forbid wwe restricted him because of his age, age is not a factor, ability is.

  86. Rachael October 18, 2011 at 4:23 am #

    The warning label on the baby has (sort of) already arrived. As standard procedure in our local hospital, I had to sign numerous papers about how to take care of a baby, recognizing warning signs of this and that, and promising that I would make a doctors appointment within 2 days. They just don’t stick it on the newborns belly because parents would cover it up with a cute outfit, and it won’t fit on the forehead.

  87. NZ mum October 18, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    I remember when my son’s godfather was buying him a Christmas present and rang me from the store to ask if he could buy him a toy that was for a 3 year old because our son was only one! He doesn’t have kids so didn’t understand about guidelines 🙂

  88. Evelyn S October 19, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    with the water temp thing, water could be too hot for baby, but not too hot for you, I know I like really hot water.

  89. pentamom October 19, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    “with the water temp thing, water could be too hot for baby, but not too hot for you, I know I like really hot water.”

    Then all you have to do is stick your elbow in the water while remembering you want the water cooler than you’d want it for yourself. I think people have been doing this for generations. You still don’t need something to tell you the difference between warm and hot.

  90. Baby Monitors Online October 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm #

    I agree that it is a bit over the top that all those baby products have huge warning signs all over them, it is no wonder parents are paranoid about their child’s safety.

    However, I can see the companies point of view too as you do get some people out there who want to take companies to court for everything and anything.

  91. wendy October 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    I own a 2nd hand children’s shop so I live and breath these issues daily. It is not the companies doing it, it is the regulators bullying them into doing it. The CPSC has gotten very aggressive. If a company does not issue the warning label they demand, they will issue an all out press war on them.

    I opened three years ago and it was nearly impossible to even get insurance for my business and the insurance I managed to get doesn’t cover much and does not allow me to sell cribs or car seats.

  92. Meg October 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    I have ann 8 year old and an 8 month old. The thing that drives me absolutely NUTSO is, all their toys require batteries. All the battery compartments are fastened with a bunch of tiny, little screws. So, every time the batteries die I have to unsrew a bazillion itty bitty screws to replace the battery and then screw all the itty bitty screws back in. What happened to the little plastic lips and clasps that used to hold the battery compartments closed? I don’t understand why the battery compartment on an infant swing needs to be screwed closed. I’m not raising Stewie. My infant can’t pry open the battery door. She can’t even reach it. And at 8 months old, she lacks the fine motor skills required to manipulate it anyway. I don’t see how this helps.

    The other thing that made me crazy was the fact the drop-side cribs are now BANNED. A small amount of child deaths were attributed to drop-side cribs, so now they are verboten to everyone. My siblings and I all used a drop side crib- the same crib, in fact, that was made in the 70s. We all managed to survive until adulthood. How is it that now, all of a sudden, these items that parents have been using for generations are all deadly?

    People have got to realize that, as my pediatrician puts it, kids are designed to survive in spite of us. This insane paranoia only serves to make parents irrational and overbearing, and produces fearful, fragile children.

  93. Mannie November 4, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    My big beef with the proliferation of warning stickers, and it’s not just on baby products, is that there are so many of them, that no one reads any of them, and you miss the one that says, “This thing really will kill you.”

    I keep expecting to walk into a gun store, and see “Do not stand here” stamped in a little ring around the muzzle of a gun.

  94. Mannie November 4, 2011 at 10:17 pm #


    People have got to realize that, as my pediatrician puts it, kids are designed to survive in spite of us.

    That’s a keeper.


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