Baby/Kid Gear
Avoid Cold Weather Nightmares! Pick Pajamas Free of Flame Retardants

Avoid Cold Weather Nightmares! Pick Pajamas Free of Flame Retardants

October 30, 2013

By Alexandra Zissu, Editorial Director

Depending on where in the country you live, October’s chill means time to break out the pajamas that keep kids warm on winter long nights—or risk a very full family bed. Unfortunately, a large amount of children’s sleepwear—especially the fleecy, fuzzy kind—contains toxic flame retardants. It’s enough to keep you up at night.

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) children’s sleepwear flammability standards require that all kids’ sleepwear between size 9 months and size 14 resist an open flame for at least three seconds. If the garment fails this flammability test, it must be treated for flame resistance. While flame retardant chemicals like chlorinated TRIS and PBDE have been phased out due to toxicity concerns, others remain, like tetrakis (hydroxymethyl) phosphonium chloride, a.k.a. “Proban” or “Securest.” This popular treatment has been linked to a variety of health effects including genetic changes, cancer promotion, and liver and nervous system damage.

Although the CPSC says that less than 1 percent of children’s sleepwear is treated for flame-resistance, parents shouldn’t interpret this as a sign that 99 percent of jammies are safe. Far from it. In many cases, this simply means the original fabric was treated prior to its conversion into sleepwear that then passed flame-resistance tests as a result. Quite the loophole.

Fortunately, parents can keep flame retardant nightmares away at bedtime by simply inspecting garment labels. The CPSC requires all sleepwear that is not flame-resistant to bear a label saying, “For child’s safety, garment should fit snugly. This garment is not flame resistant. Loose-fitting garments are more likely to catch fire.” This is a warning you want to see; clothing labeled with it is free of toxic flame retardant treatments.

You can also look for labeling declaring that the item “is not intended for use as sleepwear,” another indication it is most likely flame-retardant-free.

The CPSC also mandates that treated sleepwear carry a permanent label with instructions on how to take care of the garment to protect its flame resistance. Parents can look for this labeling, too, then avoid.

Remember that most burning sleepwear incidents occur not in bed but when kids get too close to fireplaces, candles, stoves, and other sources of flame or high heat. Most babies aren’t smoking in bed. So choose flame-retardant-free PJs for these chilly months and heed those warnings! Make sure anything you dress them in fits snugly and exercise caution whenever such heat sources are present. Keep in mind that natural fibers like wool are a very toasty option. There is a warm world outside of fleece.

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