...In with the New
This isn't to say that you've got to start from scratch, forking over thousands of dollars, with every new member of the family. Campbell instead recommends simply keeping up with the latest products. Read over the instruction manuals of your current gear periodically. Go out to the store and look at the new models on the shelves, or call the manufacturer to see what has changed. If it's a safety feature, it might be more important to you than a device that's more streamlined or updated to look more attractive.
When a new purchase is necessary, look for JPMA's seal of approval. This certification program allows participating manufacturers to have their products independently tested by a non-industry organization. The seal can be found on the packaging and within the instruction manual, and JPMA offers a complete list of the more than 3,000 JPMA-certified products.
Still, consumers have a right to be wary of what's out there. Not all products for sale have the seal, and unless parents diligently look for it each time they make a purchase, Campbell suggests they build up brand or store loyalty. For example, if a manufacturer takes part in the JPMA regulation, every one of its models — from toys and bouncers to walkers and high chairs — must be tested. Many retailers, including Wal-Mart, Target, JCPenney and Babies "R" Us, require that all their juvenile products have heightened certification.
In the past few years, companies have begun integrating these innovations of design, as evident in the now-popular three-wheel stroller, as well as in such standards as the booster seat and bed rails. Baby walkers, too, have seen the effects that come with garnering the JPMA seal. In the past few years, companies added weighted wheel stoppers, which has led to an 80 percent change in injury prevention.