Sheila Merrill, Public Health Adviser at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) talks to The Baba Blog about Nappy Sacks. 

Nappy sacks are a common sight in homes up and down the country, but how aware are you of the choking and suffocation risk they pose to your baby?

At least 12 babies in England and Wales, aged from two months to a year old, have died since 2001 from suffocation or choking after putting a nappy sack in their mouth.

The flimsy plastic bags used to dispose of soiled nappies are small enough to fit into little mouths, plus they do not rustle in the same way as plastic bags and can be easily breathed in by babies without parents realising.

A typical scenario involves nappy sacks being stored within the baby’s reach, especially when changing a nappy in the middle of the night. Despite naturally grasping items and then instinctively bringing them to their mouths for exploration, when it comes to nappy sacks, babies will struggle to let go or remove them when in trouble. Once in their mouths, the nappy sack can lead to obstruction of the nose and mouth and prevent babies from inhaling fresh air.

RoSPA continues to raise awareness of nappy sack dangers, as none of the deaths had come to the attention of national accident prevention bodies, nor had they been logged on the national Trading Standards database. Each area had assumed their incidents were one-off, isolated cases.

We are concerned about the lack of mandatory suffocation warning advice on the packaging of nappy sacks and the product’s frequent availability as loose bags in a packet, as opposed to being supplied on a roll.

We now have thousands of RoSPA posters and leaflets, warning families of the dangers of leaving plastic nappy sacks lying near babies, for distribution among organisations involved with children’s services in England and Scotland. Find out more about how you can apply for these leaflets free of charge by visiting RoSPA’s nappy sack safety advice page.

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