Saturday, February 27, 2010

Baby Clothing that is Safe!

While I was an employee at Gap, Inc. when we did baby and children clothing line reviews we would note any potential safety hazards. As you can imagine large brands like Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic can easily become subjects to law suits; for this reason they have a team dedicated to ensuring their products for babies and children are as safe as possible. Not all apparel companies have the funds to hire a team of such professionals-so you need to be diligent when buying baby clothes and look for possible safety hazards.

Here are some examples:

• Functioning drawstrings. These are especially dangerous when around the neck, like in a hood. If the drawstring gets caught and pulled it can cut off air circulation for the baby. Instead, opt for false drawstrings.

• Ties. Watch the length of ties on clothing. If the times come undone they can easily get caught in something, a vehicle door, an escalator step, etc. If you can make a bow that should be long enough-you don’t need the long tails.

• Buttons. All of you know how a button can come off of a garment. But a loose button can become a chocking hazard in a small baby’s throat. The buttons should be able to withstand ten pounds of pressure (what they experts average is the strength of a small baby or toddler) and not be pulled off the garment. The same would apply for Pom Poms.

• Sugar glitter. Loose glitters that fall off easily at the touch or just with wear can irritate or even scratch a baby’s eye. Opt for sealed glitter décor instead.

• Chemicals. Always wash baby clothing before you put it on them. Certain dies and treatments may still be on the surface and irritate your child’s skin. Use laundry detergent that is safe for babies’ sensitive skins.

• Zippers. I would strongly suggest buying garments that have zipper guards in them. This is basically a flap of fabric that protrudes from the back part of the zipper. This creates a layer between the baby’s skin and the zipper teeth. In addition, check the top of the zipper when it is fully zipped. This part generally rubs against the baby’s neck-is it sharp at all or smooth?

• Appliqués. Sometimes appliqués are not sewn down properly. Not only does this pose a risk for portions to come detached (chocking hazard) but depending on the design may expose sharp corners.

• Blanket stitch. This is a nice decorative stitch that sometimes is used on apparel instead of just baby blankets. You know it is a blanket stitch because if one part gets loose you can virtually unravel the entire stitching. You can see how this can be a potential chocking hazard for a baby who’s rolling around in a blanket. Check that they have “bar tacks” along the blanket stitching. This keeps the entire stitching from coming unraveled.

• Flammability. This is a very complex area. But in short, it is best to get natural fibers instead of synthetics because of how they burn. In addition, low pile weaves so the exposed surface is shortened. Again be aware of parts of the garments that can hang down, like big sleeves, and can catch a flame.

These are just a few examples. When looking at a garment for children, especially babies, just try to examine and think if anything could possibly hurt their skin or eyes (scratch, irritate, cut-zippers, sharp points, glitter, etc.), possibly become a chocking or entrapment hazard (ties, drawstrings, attached belts, etc.), detach and easily be choked on if swallowed (appliqués, pompoms, buttons, snaps and so forth). Unfortunately not all apparel companies have or follow safety standards in baby and children’s clothing so as a parent (or purchaser of clothing for a child) it is important to take a few minutes and evaluate the garment for safety.

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