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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What are Flame Resistant Pajamas?

While folding a pair of Gray’s pajamas the other day, two words on the label caught my eye – “flame resistant”.  Sadly, I’d never thought much about flame resistant pajamas until that moment.  When he was a baby, I worried about snug-fitting sleepwear for fear of suffocation.  Now that he is older, I try to buy his pajamas a bit big so he gets more wear out of them.  Apparently that’s a big no-no.  Honestly, the thought of my child catching on fire while wearing pajamas never once crossed my mind.

I had no idea but according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), children’s sleepwear must meet certain flammability standards.  Here’s an excerpt from one of their files:

“To protect children from burns, these rules require that children’s sleepwear must be flame resistant and self-extinguish if a flame from a candle, match, lighter or similar item causes it to catch fire.  The rules cover all children’s sleepwear above size 9 months and up to size 14 and require that (1) the fabric and garments must pass certain flammability tests; or (2) be ‘tight fitting’ as defined by specified dimensions.”

Most government documents require cliff notes; in other words, there was a lot to sift through and understand.  But in an effort to keep this short, let’s first address the flame resistant part.  They go about testing for flammability by sampling specific parts of the garment, both as produced and after 50 washings, like the fabric, garment seams, and trim using 3 ½” by 10” pieces.  Each piece is placed in a specially designed cabinet and subjected to a gas flame for 3 seconds.  Afterward they measure the length of the char.  Depending on the results, the item is either accepted or rejected.

To understand flame resistant, I took a look at DuPont’s web site, and they explain that there are two types of flame resistant fibers – inherent and treated.  Inherently flame resistant fibers are flame resistant because of their chemical makeup.  Multiple sites stated that these fabrics were prone to melting, not burning and also trapped moisture, potentially causing rashes on children. Treaded flame retardant fabrics are just that – treated with a chemical substance to provide protection.

But what if you are concerned about toxins or prefer that your child wears natural fibers?  Then another acceptable option, according to the CPSC, is to look for tight-fitting 100% cotton pajamas with the label stating ‘Wear snug-fitting. Not flame resistant.’  How are they considered safe?  This type of garment is based on a specific set of measurements for each size group.  Their data suggests that by eliminating the space (oxygen) between the garment and the child’s skin, then the garment’s flammability is reduced.

Perhaps I now know enough to be dangerous.  I’m a bottom line sort of person, so my takeaway is that I will be buying pajamas more often now, being less concerned about getting plenty of wear out of them and more concerned about avoiding toxins and being safe.

If you would like more detailed information on safety requirements for children’s pajamas, follow this link to CPSC’s regulations.

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