Episode 091: Is This Product for My Baby Safe?

Episode Transcription

Ever felt overwhelmed walking through aisles of baby products, wondering which are truly safe for your little one?

You're not alone!

In this episode, we’re spicing things up with a special guest, Marta Tellado, CEO of Consumer Reports, who’s here to help us learn the tricky waters of baby product safety.

We’ll also discuss:

  • Hidden dangers in popular baby gear.
  • Importance of being vigilant and informed as a parent.
  • Discover Consumer Reports' baby hub at cr.org.

What can you expect from this podcast and future episodes?

  • 15-20 minute episodes to help you tackle your to-do list
  • How to declutter in an effective and efficient way
  • Guest interviews
  • Deep dives on specific topics 

Find Diana Rene on social media:
Instagram: @the.decluttered.mom
Facebook: @the.decluttered.com
Pinterest: @DianaRene

Are you ready for a peaceful and clutter-free home? Watch my FREE training video “Kiss Clutter Goodbye” to learn how it’s possible! And find all of my resources here.

This transcription was automatically generated. Please excuse grammar errors. 

Diana Rene: 0:06

You're listening to The Decluttered Mom Podcast, a podcast built specifically for busy moms by a busy mom. I'm your host, Diana Rene, and in 2017, I had my second daughter and it felt like I was literally drowning in my home okay, not literally, but I felt like I couldn't breathe with all of the stuff surrounding me. Over the next 10 months, I got rid of approximately 70% of our household belongings and I have never looked back. I kind of feel like I hacked the mom system and I'm here to share all the tips, tricks and encouragement. Let's listen to today's show. All right, so I am excited for today's episode because we have Marta Tellado on here and she is with Consumer Reports. This is going to be a little bit different than most of the podcast episodes we have here at the Decluttered Mom, but we're going to be talking about baby product safety and I figured this would be kind of an interesting topic for our listeners, because we have so many moms with so many babies. So I wanted to give you a warm welcome, Marta. Welcome to the show.

Marta Tellado: 1:21

It's great to be here, Diana. Thank you so much. I'm excited to talk to you about some of the stuff that we do to really help moms make important decisions every day.

Diana Rene: 1:31

I love that Awesome. So can you just share with us what your job is and kind of how Consumer Reports works when it comes to anything with baby products?

Marta Tellado: 1:42

Yes, well, I am the CEO of Consumer Reports, and we have over 60 labs and 150 testers, and a lot of what we do is science-based, but a lot of your listeners.

Marta Tellado: 1:57

I love your show because you try to navigate when all of us are drowning in just stuff, when all of us are drowning in just stuff and I would say that most parents are also drowning in information and how do you make decisions? You know it's ironic. We're exposed to so much information and, as a result, some misinformation as well, and so what we know is that parents they find, you know, if you think about what we do every day is we look at the marketplace, and we've always been focused on babies, and what we've done, though, in the last six months, is we've created a new baby hub, so new parents can go right to that place on crorg to search for all manner of stuff that they are making decisions about, and the thing that we prioritize is safety first right, and what we know is that, overwhelmingly, parents prioritize safety over what it costs. You know what it's going to mean for you day to day.

Marta Tellado: 3:02

That's what they want, and so what we do is we, we buy all the stuff ourselves. We are a nonprofit right, so we don't accept any advertising on anything we do, and that's not always clear when moms are searching for stuff and figuring out when to buy. So so what we try to do is be really. We are really independent and we look at anything you name it, from cribs to furniture to sippy cups, to diapers and wipes, and what is going to be safe, what is going to be work for you and your child, and we've been doing that for 87 years. So for me it's like such an honor to be running and leading an organization that has been helping people for decades and now really leaning into helping moms and parents.

Diana Rene: 3:56

Absolutely. It's rare to see an organization last that long these days, that's for sure.

Marta Tellado: 4:11

Yeah, and the thing is we're more relevant than ever, because where do you go when you're trying to figure out the stuff the baby stuff you really, really need, and when the things you're prioritizing are really about safety?

Marta Tellado: 4:20

It can be overwhelming, and I think one of the things that a lot of us assume whether you're a parent or a mom or not is that if something is available to you on the marketplace, in a bricks and mortar store or online, you just assume that somebody out there has tested it, whether it's a pediatrician, and unfortunately that's not the case. And so what we have to do, and what we have done over decades, is really work on being that trusted partner so that you can have, you can ease that burden and the burden shouldn't be on us, but unfortunately it is and so what we have to do is not only get you the information you need, but if a product is fundamentally broken, if a certain rice formula we have found to have lead and is not good for your child, then we have to hold the government agency accountable, but also the companies that are making this stuff.

Diana Rene: 5:16

Absolutely for sure, and I love what you said about drowning in information. That's something my mom and I actually were having a conversation about the other day. Information that's something my mom and I actually were having a conversation about the other day, where she said, you know, it's kind of a double-edged sword when I watch you and your siblings make parenting decisions, because it's great and I wish I had access to all of that information and all of the different products and things like that, but at the same time, I think it would have overwhelmed me and it's almost like it's too much. It's too much information, too many products, and it's hard to know who's telling you the truth, what actually works, the way it's supposed to work, and like which one is the best one. And I think when, when you're a mom and you're dealing with things that are for your kids, you want the best one and it's just really hard to weed through all of that information.

Marta Tellado: 6:07

Yeah, and let me give you an example.

Marta Tellado: 6:09

Like every mom, you know we you do need an infant car seat when you have that baby they you will not be allowed to leave the hospital without one in your car.

Marta Tellado: 6:22

And so that there you know, and by that time you've already made a number of purchases. But one of the things that you know we're particularly proud of is our ability to give you advice that is suitable for you, depending on what car you have. You know how heavy the seat is, but but so it's it's. We crash test the baby seats. We also give you information about which one is going to fit with your vehicle the best, which is going to be easy for you to use, and we provide you that video so that you can feel confident that it is installed in a way that is actually going to protect your child and really perform the way it's supposed to perform, because we've been able to look at injury patterns, we've been able to look at the vehicle crashes, we look at the government data as well, and we also consult our experts in our lab spaces. So I think to me that is such an important step, but we try to be that partner so you can be confident, not only just having the product, but that you're using it appropriately.

Diana Rene: 7:33

Yeah, I love that. I still remember the first time with my oldest when I went to the hospital and you know we had the infant car seat and everything worked out fine in my like big Jeep Grand Cherokee. But then we got the same exact car seat for my husband and his little sedan and it didn't fit and we were like well, hold on. Like isn't it supposed to fit in all cars? Like, isn't it?

Marta Tellado: 7:55

supposed to fit in all cars, right? Well, you, you assume that right, but that's not the case. And then, so that there's safety about that, there's also one of the things that we do people like well, how are you different from like any other rating out there? And I, you know, I say, okay, I've already. We've already talked about one. We're not. This is not advertising. We do not get any kind of kickbacks from any of the products that we're advising you about. But the other important lesson here, too, is that if a product is fatally flawed, we tell you to stay away from it. But we do more than that because there's so many parents that don't have that information. But we do more than that because there's so many parents that don't have that information. So when we discovered that there were certain baby dressers that you bring home and they're not really sturdy because there's no real standard, what?

Marta Tellado: 8:55

we know about toddlers is that they love opening drawers and crawling up on that furniture. And too many children were being trapped and harmed, and some fatally, with accidents. And we just worked with parents and were able to make the case in front of Congress, in front of the right committees, that we need stability standards for those dressers. And that doesn't happen right away, so we can give you the advice that you need the day of, but we're not letting this issue go until we succeed, and we were just so proud that we could do that and we can have safety standards going to effects in last September. So it's both like what do you need today? And if there is a problem out there, know that we're going to continue to fight to make it right.

Diana Rene: 9:37

And if there is a problem out there know that we're going to continue to fight to make it right. Okay, so I, to be completely honest, I had no idea of two things with Consumer Reports. Number one, I thought there was advertising, so I thought products paid to be on these lists, you know. And then, number two, I had no idea that you guys have you advocate in front of the government for better safety guidelines.

Marta Tellado: 10:00

That's right. We educate consumers, but we advocate and we investigate. So when we start following some kind of issues that raise a red flag in poison control centers and injury data, we start to investigate. And injury data we start to investigate. And that's what we did with a very popular baby toy that parents are using in the bathtub and those. These are things called water beads and they're a lot of fun. They're like marbles, but they grow when they are exposed to water and kids love to play with them. Unfortunately, kids also like to put them in their mouth and there's no standard of like. You can't have a toy like this on the market.

Marta Tellado: 10:43

So we've succeeded in making sure that there are warnings and it's getting taken off the market and you also have to worry because they also get on the secondary market. They get on eBay, they get on other platforms at. They get on eBay, they get on other platforms. But it really we try to do what we need to do to make sure that you're confident and you know you think about what you buy for your child in the bed the sippy cups, the. What kind of chemicals are in those sippy cups? Those were one of the first investigations that we did to get BPS out of sippy cups and things like common things, like your baby wipes. If you really care about chemicals and what chemicals are in those baby wipes, we try to make that easy for you by letting you know which is the one that has the least chemicals that are known to be unsafe.

Diana Rene: 11:38

Yeah, okay, so my oldest is 10.

Diana Rene: 11:41

And when she was a baby, she had acid reflux and so she would just, you know, scream if she was laid flat on her back, which is what the doctors told me to do.

Diana Rene: 11:53

And I remember all of my friends started getting these inclined rockers and I'm going to blink on what the name was but they were all saying how they were magic and they were making all their babies sleep all the way through the night. And I remember I bought one and I let her sleep in it one night and then the next day I saw some type of thing where they weren't safe, and so I started investigating that and seeing all of these articles about how they're not actually safe and I think they're off the market now. But that's just a really good example of I was trying to do the best for my baby, for my household, and you think that you can trust walking into a big box store and taking anything out of there and it's going to be safe for your baby, and ultimately it's not, and it's something that was completely taken off the market in a few years.

Marta Tellado: 12:44

Yeah, and let me tell you the story of how that was taken off. What you're describing is the Fisher Price rock and play in my sleeper. That was it and what happened there. It was a horrible tragedy, Diana, because what we know is that over up to a hundred infants died as a result of that of that sleeper, and the reason they did is that an inclined sleeper is for an infant child whose neck muscles have not developed. Anything that doesn't safely secure them is going to create their head is going to bob either forward or sideways and they will suffocate. So we saw that this was happening.

Marta Tellado: 13:30

We were looking at the data and then the unfortunate thing is that we could not get Fisher-Price to take them off.

Marta Tellado: 13:37

We could not get the government to stop Fisher-Price, but the government accidentally shared some data with us that made the connection that we suspected was already there, and when we told them we were going to release this data, they told us not to publish it. But we were unrelenting about it not to publish it, but we were unrelenting about it, and the day after we published it, over 5 million sleepers were recalled and now they're banned from the marketplace for good, and so what we're working on now is making sure that you cannot find them in daycare centers or on the secondary market. But that was a terrible strategy that could have been avoided. No pediatrician had tested that product prior to it being on the marketplace, and a pediatrician would have easily told you that it is unsafe for any infant to be laid in that in that. So so very fortunate that you saw that, but, as I said, a lot of parents are unsuspecting of things they find in the marketplace.

Diana Rene: 14:46

Yeah, do you deal with any pushback from, especially with social media? And I've noticed when, when those were taken, when they were recalled, you know, and and it was just it felt like everywhere was recalling those at once. I remember seeing so many comments, like hundreds and hundreds of comments on social media posts saying like, oh, like I wouldn't have slept without that, my baby was fine, blah, blah, blah. That type of like mentality. I guess you could consider it like survivor's bias in a way. Do you guys get pushback with that type of commentary?

Marta Tellado: 15:23

Being in a place where you are constantly testing and rating and investigating. You get pushback all the time. You get pushback from very large companies Fisher Price is a trusted brand they made a mistake here. But also parents, you know they're very vulnerable. You need to get that sleep. You were going to turn to anything that is going to help you be the best parent you can be, but on four, but on four. And so you, you know, we know that. So that's why we tried um work, to work really hard to give you the trusted information that you need to make that decision and also to make public what can go wrong. And once we saw the evidence, you know one child dying is more than anyone should accept, but close to a hundred, that signals a real problem. Some parents were fortunate, but we have to be firm in letting the science guide us and having the investigations. We do be science-based.

Diana Rene: 16:29

Right, yeah, and I, like you know, like you said, parents are just trying to do their best. Yeah, they're doing their best with what they are given and what information they have at that time.

Marta Tellado: 16:40

And we don't. And this is not about scaring the parents or it is just helping them and partnering with them to really make the best possible decision at them. To really make the best possible decision. It's hard to do when there's so much information out there that is not based on science, not based on evidence, and you can't really tell whether it's an ad or whether it's really information. And so not only do we test things in our labs, but we also do usability studies with parents in their home, so that we really see like a complete 360 on what does our lab technician think, what do the experts think? And pediatricians, but what are parents facing at home when they're in a home environment?

Diana Rene: 17:28

Yeah, okay, okay. So I'm curious could you walk me through, like, say, there is a new baby product on the market, let's say it's a new diaper what would consumer reports do then to be able to assess that and put their opinion out?

Marta Tellado: 17:48

Well, we really have a passion for tracking products that hit the market, particularly like a new product. This is going to be better than any other product and that's why we always do like what we call comparative testing. Right, we look at like. So in a diaper example, we would look at diapers across the board and say, okay, which one of these performs better relative to the others? Because you have to make a choice, and that's your power as a consumer. You can choose one thing over another and you can shape the marketplace based on the choices you make. So that's very empowering. But on diapers, so so think about it this way Every parent is, every parent is making a decision.

Marta Tellado: 18:26

Every mom's making a decision that is best for their family. You might be a family that really, really cares about the planet, how green it is, how sustainable, how your choice can shape a healthier future for a planet that your child's going to grow up in. So we want to test for that right. Which product is truly biodegradable, which product is going to not produce excessive rash or baby rash? So we're going to look at those products and then you might be someone who's like, okay, old school, maybe I'm going to go back to cloth diapers. Is that really cheaper than the disposable diapers? So you'll find on our site that we do all those comparisons for you so that you can choose based on who you are and the kind of things you need for your family. You can make the best choice for you. Price point might not be a factor, but it might be. Is it really really true that this particular product is going to save money versus another? That's the thing that we'll look at as well.

Diana Rene: 19:33

Okay, awesome, and can you just share again what was the name of it? It's a baby hub.

Marta Tellado: 19:39

Yes, it's. If you go to crorg, go to the go to the baby hub. You'll go, you'll, you'll see it right across the top. Just go right, you'll see it lap. You know one word babies and you click on that, you get right to the baby hub where you get all kinds of information. And you know we are because we're a nonprofit, we're a membership organization and if you want to be part of a community that really focuses on safe and sound homes for your baby, you can be a part of that membership. But you also. We have so much information that is available to everyone for free. And I talked about the car seats. You, we. There's a, a car seat finder. You plug in the information, the kind of car you have and all that, and you can get that information as well. So do check out the baby hub. For any new mom out there that is drowning in too much information and worried about what's real and not real, I think you'll find a partner that helps you navigate all that.

Diana Rene: 20:40

Okay, awesome, and we'll include that link in the show notes also for people. That make it super easy to get to. But, Marta, I really just appreciate you coming on here today. I think this was really interesting and it actually dispelled some myths that I had about Consumer Reports, so I'm sure it has for my listeners also, and it's just. I wish that I knew about this when my kids were really little, because it would have saved a lot of research hours and energy.

Marta Tellado: 21:10

And you know that new moms do not have a lot of extra hours, right.

Diana Rene: 21:15

Or energy, right yeah.

Marta Tellado: 21:17

Well, we really thrive on being that trusted partner to ease that burden, and we know that you can't assume that things are safe out there, so thanks for having me. It was really a pleasure to get a chance to talk to all your listeners.

Diana Rene: 21:33

Thanks for having me. It was really a pleasure to get a chance to talk to all your listeners. Absolutely, and would you say that is the best place for anyone listening that baby hub to head over to if they're wanting more information about everything that you guys do. We're also on TikTok.

Marta Tellado: 21:47

We're also on other social media platforms, so do check out what we do Wherever you are. That's where we want to be Perfect. Thank you so much. You're welcome. Thanks, Diane.

Diana Rene: 22:00

Thanks for hanging out and listening to The Decluttered Mom Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world if you could write a review or share this episode with a friend or your Instagram stories. And if you're on Instagram, be sure to follow me at @thedeclutteredmom and send me a DM to say hi. I'd love to hear what you thought about today's episode. I hope you'll come back next week and hang out with us again.