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The Truth About Sleepwear

Product Safety, Chemical Management, Michael McDonald, Sleepwear, Flammability, Restricted Substances, Childrenswear
Dec 07, 2011

Children’s sleepwear must meet certain flammability safety standards.   These are achieved one of two basic ways – either the garment is flame resistant or the garment is snug fitting.
While these standards have been in place for years, we constantly encounter confusion and misunderstanding – including erroneous information in this recent blog post that tries to be helpful – for children’s sleepwear safety rules.

Listed below are some of that blog’s statements that require correction:

“Most companies meet the flame-resistant requirements by adding chemical flame retardants to the pajamas.”

In fact this is not the case. Most flame-resistant pajamas do not contain chemical flame retardants. They are made of materials that are inherently flame resistant such as polyester and modacrylic. 

“Chemical flame retardants are pretty nasty toxic villains -- some of them have been linked to cancer…”

This is a dangerous common mistake.  Why?  Many parents unwittingly expose their kids to unacceptable risks by avoiding garments that are safely treated and instead choose garments that are not compliant with federal pajama flammability standards.  Here are the facts: Some chemical flame retardants are pretty nasty but not the ones found in children’s pajamas that are treated.  The blog correctly notes that Tris has recently become a hot topic, but not in children’s pajamas. The sleepwear industry removed this chemical from its products in 1977 meaning that we are 34 years ahead of the rest of the world.  Moreover, clothing companies around the world follow restricted substance lists – such as this one published by AAFA – that eliminate toxic chemicals and substances from the clothing supply chain.

“Now that I know that snug-fitting means less chemical exposure, I'm looking for the "Wear snug-fitting" hang tag on any new set of pajamas.”

Excellent.  But make sure that if you buy snug-fitting pajamas, they are in fact sized to fit snugly.  Buying snug fitting garments a few sizes too big exposes your child to the safety risk that the snug fitting requirement is designed to address.  Also, sadly, labels don’t always convey the proper information.  Too often we’ve heard of garments that were labeled incorrectly.  A garment labeled with the yellow snug fitting tag should look like it is designed to fit snugly.  Finally, many safe and compliant pajamas – with treated or naturally flame resistant materials – are designed not to fit snugly.  So if you restrict your option to snug fitting garments you will limit your choices of safe garments.

To sum up:  There is a lot of safe and affordable children’s sleepwear in the marketplace to accommodate disparate consumer choices.  Many pajamas made from synthetics are naturally flame resistant.  Consumers looking for cotton alternatives can find them also – but they need to be worn snug fitting or treated with flame retardant finishes.   Federal product safety authorities also require children’s loungewear to meet the children’s pajama safety rules, so if you are buying products labeled as loungewear make sure they meet these safety standards also.

The bottom line is that education is a key to product safety – whether we are talking about garments, toys, or other consumer products.  At AAFA, we work every day to educate the industry and the public on ways to ensure safe and compliant sleepwear and other garments, footwear, and accessories.  You can learn more about these initiatives by clicking here.

AAFA also conducts an aggressive educational program related specifically to product safety, including our upcoming Product Safety and Sustainability Seminar in New York on February 1, 2012.


Michael McDonald


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