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Wednesday 10 October 2012

Choice: Expectant Parents Guide

Choice is Australia’s most trusted independent consumer group, and recently, they held a forum of leading experts who discussed the most pressing issues facing parents today. I attended this event and may just have won the unofficial prize for most prolific Tweeter on the day! The reason I connected so much with the content and felt compelled to talk about it is because the forum was so rich with excellent topics and the professionals at the table - moderated by the exceptional Tracey Spicer - really knew their stuff. 

The results of this forum have just been tabled and they were just released.

Misinformation received by parents, particularly around celebrity endorsements of questionable products, marketing and advertising of food as well as the trustworthiness of social media, were the hot topics at the inaugural meeting of the 'Choice Kids and Baby Council.'

A series of short 90 second videos have also been produced that brings each topic to life.  

Here are some:

To see more, go here: http://www.youtube.com/choiceaustralia

Choice has also produced a free, 28-page 'Expectant Parents Guide', which offers invaluable advice to new parents who are navigating a minefield of information. These kind of guides are usually sold by Choice, however this guide is being distributed free of charge to support the important initiative. You can download it free right here:

The topics Choice has covered include:

Fashion putting your child at risk: Miranda Kerr endorsing a product [the amber teething necklace] that is not only a potential choking hazard, but its so-called healing powers are biologically implausible. The popular Bugaboo Stroller, which has failed Choice safety standards several times.

Social media – why you need to be sceptical: Social media’s misleading and conflicting opinions that undermine a parent’s intuition. Companies that purchase large amounts of bogus Twitter and Facebook followers to appear more popular and trustworthy to parents.

Advertising to kids – parents should seize back control: Children being directly marketed at, especially food and how a parent’s role in deciding what is best for child is being diminished.

Potential approaches to packaging to address childhood obesity: Dramatic measures discussed for food products that are high in salt and saturated fat.

Feeding baby – should formula be prescription only?: Some women are being castigated in Australian hospitals if they request formula to feed their baby. 

Says Choice Kids and Baby Council Chairperson, journalist Tracey Spicer. "When you have a baby you're almost re-born as a consumer and you’re flying blind when it comes to these products and services."

“You don’t know whose information can be trusted, if the advice you’re getting is credible of simply cleverly disguised advertising or, even worse, if you’re buying products that are downright dangerous.”

Social media expert, Leslie Nasser, warned parents to cast a sceptical eye over the information found online, especially some bogus ‘communities’.  “When it comes to online, Facebook friends, peers and family members are often the best source of information about child rearing,” says Ms Nasser. 

Nasser warned that online communities can be fictional illusions, as a number of companies are now purchasing large amounts of bogus twitter and Facebook followers to appear more popular and trustworthy. These websites and communities are often misleading consumers by selling inferior products and/or dispensing advice that could harm children.

Psychologist Sandy Rae said parents should have faith in their parenting skills.

“Trust what you think is right, as these gut instincts are often undermined by social media,” says Ms Rae.

The guide is an essential tool for ALL parents. Wish it'd been around when I was pregnant with my now four year old twins. Download it now.

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