A Safe Night’s Sleep for Babies: New European Standards for Children’s Textile Sleeping Products
In recent years, concerns over the safety of young babies during sleep has caused professionals, authorities and consumer associations to offer guidance and warnings to parents.
In August 2018, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) published three new standards to help improve safety in the sleep environment.
The basic guidance for all parents is to rest young sleeping babies on horizontal, firm and flat surfaces. In addition, soft objects and loose bedding should also be kept away from the infant to reduce the risk of suffocation, entrapment and strangulation.
“Articles shall not jeopardize the safety or health of children when they are used as intended or in a foreseeable way, bearing in mind the behavior of children.”
This statement in the Decision of the European Commission, 2010/372/EU, defines the safety requirements for children’s products. To ensure babies and children sleep in a safe environment, textile products such as cot duvets, cot bumpers and children’s sleep bags, must meet certain safety requirements to prevent and reduce the risk of hazards.
New Voluntary European Standards
In August 2018, the CEN published three EN standards to improve the safety of textile sleeping products. These are:
- EN 16779-1:2018 – children’s cot duvets
- EN16780: 2018 – children’s cot bumpers
- EN16781: 2018 – children’s sleep bags for use in a cot
These voluntary standards include:
- Requirements on the migration of listed heavy metals, according to applicable requirements and test methods from toy safety standard EN71-3. Formaldehyde content is also limited and the use of flame retardants is prohibited
- Measures to reduce fire hazards but also to avoid the use of flame retardants – the product should not produce any surface flash when a flame is introduced
- Provisions for hygiene: the products must be washable, with no dry cleaning allowed. Traceability and hygiene standards for feather and down are required
- Requirements on inherently safe design are listed, to prevent:
- Storage of small objects: no pockets are allowed
- Access to filling materials: requirements on strength of seams and stitches
- Finger entrapment and hazards from ischemia: requirements to avoid loose threads, uncut stitches, monofilament threads. Loop labels should not be used, and opening into textile or rigid parts are limited
- Hazards from slide fasteners: level B (sleep bags) or C (duvets and cot bumpers) are required; as well as provisions to ensure the slide fastener will not harm the skin of the child
- Requirements to prevent ingestion and suffocation hazards: 3D embellishments such as pompons, tassels, sequins, beads, cords or magnetic components, as well as transfers, plastic or coated fabrics of sufficient size, are not allowed. Other small components will be tested for tensile strength or washing/drying cycles
- Thermal resistance for duvets and sleep bags: requirements limit the thermal resistance of these products to a maximum level of 0.40 m² K/W and a declaration of the level as well as all useful information related to suitability with clothing and room temperature should be given to the consumers
- Relevant product information will be required for each product, giving warnings, care instructions, information on size and thermal resistance where relevant, in addition to the general information required by regulation
These new standards take into consideration both the hazards listed in the European Commission Decision and the requirements of the General Products Safety Directive (GPSD) 2001/95/CE. They were made available in August 2018, and National Bodies have until January 31, 2019, to implement them and withdraw any conflicting standards.
In addition to the general requirements listed above, each standard also has its own specific conditions:
Children’s Cot Duvets – EN 16779-1:2018
Covers cot duvets suitable for children up to 36 months and has the specific requirements:
- Maximum dimensions and relevant product information to ensure the duvet will not cover the head of the child
- Product should not be a combination of separable duvets, unless they are contained within a closed cover
- To prevent strangulation hazards, drawstrings or cords are not allowed
Stakeholders should be aware a new draft standard, prEN16779-2, is currently being prepared that will cover the safety of removable duvet covers.
Children’s Cot Bumpers – EN16780: 2018
Covers cot bumpers used in children’s sleeping environment and has the following specific conditions:
- The end of the means to attach the cot bumpers should not be fitted with any 3D embellishment, and should be secured from fraying
- To prevent strangulation hazards, those means of attachment are limited to a functional length of 75 mm, and should be attached to the bumper at the same point
- As attachment of the cot bumper to the cot can lead to hazards, slide fasteners or touch and close fastener should be positioned external to the cot; adhesive means or suction cups are prohibited
- To prevent hazards from the cot bumper attached to the cot, it should not enable the child to climb out of the cot, horizontal gaps should be avoided to prevent head entrapment hazards, and it should be attached to prevent collapse, or it being drawn into the cot
Children’s Sleep Bags – EN 16781: 2018
Covers children’s sleeping bags used by younger children, based on their ability to not be able to climb out of the cot (approximately under the age of 24 months). Its specific conditions are:
- Sleep bags should not be fitted with a hood, to prevent suffocation hazards, or with legs, to prevent children from walking, and hard objects such as bulky seams should not be present in the back
- To avoid ingestion and choking hazards two parts, fabric-covered or wooden buttons are not allowed
- Neck opening or arm openings should be fastened by the means of buttons, slide fasteners or metal press fasteners only
- To prevent strangulation, no cords or drawstrings should be used, and the product should not be capable of being attached to the cot or mattress
- As submarining can lead to suffocation, the neck opening should be limited, in adequacy with the size range of the sleep bag, and fastening of the opening should resist stresses during use
These voluntary standards will help manufacturers of children’s textile sleeping products ensure they are compliant with both European Union regulations and the requirements of the GPSD.
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