New federal safety requirements for pack-n-plays

Consumer Reports News: June 29, 2012 04:38 PM

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has approved new safety standards that will protect children as they play and sleep in mesh, portable play yards. Also known as pack-n-plays, these products are used in homes, for travel, and in child care homes.

The CPSC said that there were more than 2,100 incidents with play yards reported to the agency between November 2007 and December 2011, including 60 fatalities and 170 injuries.

The effective date for the new mandatory play yard safety standard is six months after the final rule is published in the Federal Register.

The play yard safety standards was actually required by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which enacted safety reforms to prevent dangerous products from entering the marketplace. Section 104 of the Act, known as Danny's law, requires mandatory federal standards for more than a dozen durable juvenile products, including play yards. Five other safety standards have already been put in place for cribs, toddler beds, bed rails, baby walkers and baby bath seats.

The mandatory requirements for play yards include:

  • A stability test to prevent the play yard from tipping over.
  • Latch and lock mechanisms to keep the play yard from folding on a child when it's in use.
  • Entrapment tests for attachments so a child's head does not get trapped while a bassinet or other accessory is attached.
  • Floor strength tests to ensure structural integrity and to prevent children from getting trapped by the play yard floor.
  • Minimum side height requirements to prevent children from getting out of the play yard on their own.
  • A test to prevent play yards whose top rails fold downward from using a hinge that creates a V- or diamond shape when folded to prevent head or neck entrapment.

Manufacturers of juvenile products were, however, able to get a provision eliminated from the new safety requirements, that would have addressed misassembly, which is known to be common and has also resulted in deaths.

"Once again, the CPSC has stepped up to help make the marketplace safer for young children," said Ellen Bloom of Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. "We hope the agency addresses the missassembly issue to ensure that this tough new standard can become an even better one."

See our play yard precautions and travel tips. Also check out buying advice and Ratings (available to subscribers) for play yards, along with a wide range of other products for babies and kids.

CPSC Approves New Federal Safety Standard for Play Yards [CPSC]

Maggie Shader

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