When you buy a child car seat, there's a little postcard attached to the product. That card is important. When you fill it out and mail it in to the company, the company can then contact you (via mail, e-mail, or phone) if that car seat is recalled. Not all infant and toddler products have these cards—putting children and families at risk of harm—but that is about to change.
Last month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, acting on a mandate by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, approved a measure requiring manufacturers of 18 categories of durable infant or toddler products to establish and maintain a registration card program.
In a statement on the CPSC's Web site, Commissioner Thomas Moore said, "Too many of these products are ones that children have died in. But it is especially troubling when a child dies in a product our agency has recalled because the owner of the product was unaware of the recall."
Categories affected by this ruling include full-size cribs, high chairs, strollers, play yards and infant bouncer seats, as well as toddler beds, booster chairs, hook-on chairs, non-full-size cribs, bath seats, infant bathtubs, gates and other enclosures for confining a child, stationary activity centers, infant carriers, walkers, swings, bassinets and cradles, children's folding chairs, changing tables, portable toddler bed rails, and infant slings.
The rule requires each manufacturer of a durable infant or toddler product to:
The CPSC's notice says the new rule is to "greatly promote a higher rate of product registrations, and in turn provide better notification for product owners, thereby increasing the overall effectiveness of our recall process."
It will go into effect in about six months for all categories except for children's folding chairs, changing tables, infant bouncers, infant bathtubs, portable toddler bed rails, and infant slings. For those items, the new registration rule will go into effect in about a year. In the meantime, parents should keep a running list of the brands and models of any products they buy that fall into in these categories, and periodically check for recalls in the CPSC's children's product recall search. (Toy recalls are listed separately.)