BabyQuip Talks Safe Baby Travel with First Candle’s Alison Jacobson
Learn About our New Baby Gear Rental Safety Policy
BabyQuip (formerly Babierge) takes safety seriously. From the beginning, we’ve had important safety standards in place, including mandatory gear safety and cleaning training for new Trusted Partners (TPs) and providing customers with the manufacturer’s instruction manuals for safety-related gear like car seats. We don’t rent cribs with a side that lowers. When items are returned, we carefully inspect and clean them before they go back into inventory storage. We mail in a registration card or go online to register the products we purchase for our inventory so we can easily be notified in the event of a product recall. We also check products against recall lists and monitor those lists on an ongoing basis.
Sadly, we learned that one of our Trusted Partner’s friends lost a child to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). While perusing our social media, she saw a post that was not aligned with the recommendations of SIDS organizations. We then learned that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends that cribs be bare without blankets, pillows or even a mesh bumper–an item we were renting. We realized that we could do more to improve our safety policies and set a standard for the baby gear rental industry.
Consequently, we quickly dug deep, learning everything we could about baby gear in relation to SIDS safety guidelines. In less than 48 hours, we removed images and content in our social media that was not aligned with AAP recommendations or guidelines from leading SIDS organizations.
Then, we introduced a Comprehensive Safety Program, requiring all TPs to be in full compliance with this policy and subsequently inspected each Babierge site. In addition to mandatory gear safety training, registering baby gear and providing customers with instruction manuals, our new safety policy requires each TP to Not offer certain products for rent, including:
- Blankets for cribs;
- Extra mattresses for Pack ‘N Plays;
- Bumpers of any kind or products to be used in the crib, such as wedges or sleep positioners, as per the AAP’s safe sleep policy;
- Car seat protectors;
- Teething guards;
- Dock-a-Tots or similar sleep products.
Our new safety policy also requires 100% image compliance. We don’t allow images of cribs, or other gear in which a baby sleeps, to contain soft bedding, blankets, bumpers, pillows or soft toys on the site or on Babierge social media channels.
Finally, we looked at messaging in relation to our gear and made some safety reminder messaging mandatory. For example, copy for rental bed rails must say: “Portable bed rails should not be used with infants.” We also warn customers that “pressure-mounted gates are not approved by the manufacturer for placing at the top of stairs.” As we know, only hardware-mounted gates should be used there. It’s important to acknowledge how quickly Babierge TPs made these changes. Everyone wants to get this right.
To keep the safety ball rolling, I chatted with Alison Jacobson, the CEO/executive director of First Candle, a leading national nonprofit committed to eliminating Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related infant deaths, about our safety program and what else we could do to ultimately help families keep their babies safe when they travel.
Alison’s first child, Connor, died of SIDS in 1997, when he was four months old. We understand how deeply infant safety issues resonate with her, and with parents worldwide. In addition to her role at First Candle, she is also known as the “The Safety Mom.” Here’s what Alison has to say about our new safety policy—and more!
Q: What do you think about Babierge’s policy and campaign? Is there any way we could further improve it?
A: You’re off to a good start. But I would add a couple of things to Babierge’s safety policy: In addition to not renting blankets, include pillows too. I would also stress that only the fitted sheet that’s made for the Pack ‘N Play should be used. If a sheet becomes loose, it’s a hazard.
In addition to the bed rail copy, it would be great to remind parents, whenever possible, that infants should never be placed in a bed. For customers, you want to have everything spelled out. Social media is a great place to promote this message and everyone appreciates when brands and organizations do so.
Q: What are the most important things traveling families need to keep in mind in terms of SIDS prevention?
A: Over the years, the SIDS’ rate has gone down, which is great. But the infant mortality rate hasn’t. What’s happening? Accidental suffocation is on the rise. You can reduce the risk of SIDS, but there’s no 100% way to prevent it. But you can 100% prevent accidental suffocation. It’s something parents and grandparents need to hear. It’s an empowering message. There are steps you can take to save your baby’s life.
To reduce the risk of SIDS and prevent suffocation, traveling parents need to make sure their baby is in a safe sleep environment. In a new surrounding or if they haven’t rented a crib or Pack ‘N Play, there’s a tendency to bring the baby into bed. To prevent accidental suffocation, you don’t want that baby in bed with you. Don’t let your baby sleep overnight in a stroller either. It’s not safe. Move him to a crib.
Q: Our TPs recently had a question about Rock and Play sleepers. Does First Candle have an opinion about these type of sleep products? Are they appropriate for overnight sleep?
A: The only safe environment for a baby to sleep is alone, in a crib, bassinet or portable crib on a firm, flat surface with a tight fitted sheet and no blankets, pillows, stuffed animals or bumpers. Opt for a wearable blanket like a Halo Sleep Sack.
Q: Babierge works with a lot of hotels and vacation rental companies. What role can these companies play regarding SIDS prevention/safe sleep options when accommodating traveling families?
A: If hotels and vacation rental companies provide Pack ‘N Plays and cribs, I would love them to provide safe sleep language with these products, including:
- Always place baby on back for every sleep time
- Use a firm sleep surface covered with a fitted sheet
- Room sharing without bed sharing
- Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of baby’s sleep area
- Consider offering a pacifier at naptime and bedtime
- Avoid overheating
- Do not use home breathing and heart monitors to reduce SIDS
- Avoid commercial devices marketed to reduce SIDS
Again, have everything spelled out.
Q: What about grandparents? Are there common safety mistakes grandparents make with baby’s sleep environment? How can Babierge TPs work with grandparents to make sure these customers use baby products safely?
A: Talk to grandparents about why you don’t rent crib bumpers, that a safe crib environment is bare. You also want to talk to them about putting babies to sleep on their backs, not on their tummies or their sides, and to not place babies to sleep on a soft surface, like the sofa. One of the biggest arguments people have for why they place babies on their stomach is they’re afraid of them aspirating. But babies are more likely to choke when they’re on their stomach. It’s the opposite of what most people think.
Q: In addition to renting the safest baby products and avoiding those that aren’t safe, what else can Babierge do to help keep babies safe, in general, when customers rent baby gear?
A: This is more the Safety Mom talking, but encourage your customers to rent baby gates. If they’re going to visit grandma or grandpa, a rental home or a family with no kids, baby gates are an easy way to make unsafe areas off-limits, such as the area near the china cabinet, the kitchen when you’re cooking, the big screen TV, the home office or the home gym. Use a pressure mounted gate at the bottom of the stairs and between rooms to keep babies out of there. Caution customers to never use a pressure mounted gate at the top of the stairs.
Also, if your friends or grandma or grandpa has a dog, encourage your customers to use a gate to keep your baby away from the dog’s food. We’ve unfortunately seen bites from the most docile dogs who become territorial when baby gets near their food.
Q: Last question: Have any other baby gear rental companies reached out to First Candle?
A: No! It’s surprising. You’re the first.
Trish McDermott brings a lifetime of community, communications, and storytelling experience to BabyQuip (formerly Babierge). She is best known for her ten years running communications for Match.com, serving as Spokesperson and Vice President of Public Relations for the company. You may have seen her on Nightline or 60 Minutes, or Today, explaining the benefits of online dating, read about her in the New York Times, People Magazine, and MarketWatch, or in lively conversations with audiences at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club, attempting to decipher the emerging culture and etiquette of online dating communities.
Having traveled solo with her four children over the years, Trish now feels eminently qualified to speak to the challenges of family travel, as well as the solutions BabyQuip and its collaborative economy of Independent Quality Providers offer. Read more about Trish’s role in launching BabyQuip in this Moneyish story.