Sleeping is a potentially risky time for young children, especially babies. A variety of factors can conspire to harm the child.


Globally, authorities have published guidelines to regulate the sleep environment to make it safe for children. In May 2017, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) published EN 16890:2017, a new standard covering mattress products for children. 

The Decision of the European Commission, 2010/372/EU, on the safety requirements of children’s sleep products states:

“Articles shall not jeopardize the safety or health of children and carers when they are used as intended or in a foreseeable way, bearing in mind the behavior of children.”

To ensure babies and children sleep in a safe environment, mattresses for both cots and cribs need to meet certain safety requirements to prevent and reduce the risk of hazards. Among various recommendations to reduce sleep related infant deaths, studies and experts around the world advise parents to keep young babies sleeping on horizontal, firm and flat surfaces; keeping away soft objects and loose bedding to reduce the risk of suffocation, entrapment, strangulation.

EN 16890:2017 Mattresses for Cots and Cribs

This new European standard covers mattresses, including mattress bases and mattress toppers, used in children’s cots, travel cots, cribs and suspended baby beds, in both a domestic and non-domestic setting. It considers both the hazards listed in the European Commission Decision and the requirements of the General Products Safety Directive (GPSD) 2001/95/CE.

This voluntary standard includes:

  • Requirements on the migration of listed heavy metals, according to applicable requirements and test methods from toy safety standard EN71-3
  • Measures to reduce fire hazards but also to avoid the use of flame retardants – flammability tests are conducted in accordance with EN597-1 using cigarettes; additionally, mattress covers will be tested using toy standard EN71-2 and the flame propagation speed should not exceed 50 mm/s
  • The size of the mattress to cot or crib is critical and so the nominal dimensions are therefore controlled to ensure a maximum tolerance of 10 mm; taking into account possible shrinkage of removable covers
  • Requirements to prevent entrapment of body, limbs or fingers by regulating gaps between components of the mattress
  • Requirements to prevent strangulation by cords and loops (limiting length and perimeter)
  • Limiting suffocation hazards from plastic sheeting through attachment of warnings
  • Mattresses must meet firmness requirements, before and after durability tests, to stop very young children suffocating by sinking into soft or loose mattresses/materials
  • Requirements to ensure small parts or filling cannot be detached and swallowed by a child. Testing should include torque and tension tests to ensure seams and fastenings will resist normal use

The new standard has been developed to cover all aspects of children’s cot and crib mattresses, including product information, which is in line with applicable information for cot and crib standards EN 716 and EN 1130.

For manufacturers of children’s mattresses looking to comply with the requirements of the GPSD, EN 16890:2017 acts as the ideal standard for ensuring safety. It should be noted, countries like the UK and France also have their own national legislation, which should be followed by stakeholders.

SGS Solutions: Juvenile Mattress Services

SGS has a dedicated team of experts to help you develop safe and compliant juvenile products and childcare articles. Our network of furniture laboratories in Asia (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, India), Europe (France, Germany, UK) and the USA, have the testing capabilities necessary to ensure your juvenile mattresses comply with European, US, international and local requirements, including EN 16890:2017. Our laboratories offer physical and mechanical testing, chemical testing, packaging evaluations and inspection services to ensure your products comply with all target market regulations.

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For further information, please contact:

Catherine Follin-Arbelet
International Expert – Juvenile Products
t: +33 6 28 50 25 88

About SGS

SGS is the world's leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 95,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,400 offices and laboratories around the world.