Baby Product Safety Regulators: Who They Are & What They Do?
Ever wondered who is accountable for ensuring the products you use on your precious little baby are safe and free of any sort of harmful radicals? Hop on the bandwagon because you are not alone.
The data revolving around baby product safety is constantly changing. One day, a parent would claim and literally swear a product to be a lifesaver, whereas, on the next, it is a ticking diaper bomb ready to explode.
Many people (including me) are in the dark about what acronyms like “AAP,” “ASTM,” “JPMA,” and “CPSC” stand for and what they have to do with baby product safety. Do not worry. I’ve done some deep digging, so you won’t have to.
So, let’s look into who regulates baby product safety standards and what exactly they do.
Who Regulates Baby Product Safety Standards?
Let us take a peek at some of the notable baby product safety regulators and what they do.
Savior #1: American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM)
ASTM or the American Society of Testing and Materials is a non-profit entity that creates and provides guidelines for all sorts of consumer products and commodities. They also usually expand on prevailing obligatory standards set by the government.
What are they responsible for?
The American Society of Testing and Materials (ATSM) has developed and enforced child product safety standards for more than twenty years to ensure the products are safe for use.
The organization cultivates safety standards based on valuable input from consultants, engineers, test labs, retailers, manufacturers, consumer support groups, and government experts (such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the CPSC). They also solicit consumer opinions and experiences.
In addition to this, the ASTM closely examines the ways customers use and/or misuse products to devise safety standards and develop warning tags for them.
Savior #2: American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
The AAP was created in 1930 to keep people in their developing ages physically, mentally, and socially healthy.
Presently, in the United States, Mexico, Canada, and beyond, AAP has almost 67,000 pediatricians as members to accomplish that initial goal and more.
What are they responsible for?
The American Academy of Pediatrics has over thirty committees that devise programs and positions on nutrition, poison and injury prevention, and more. They work together with the administration, the congress, and the judicial system to ponder over child-related health issues and provide valuable suggestions on child safety laws.
If you wish, you can also browse through their partner website, healthychildren.org, which contains valuable information for parents on matters like healthy living, safety, and prevention.
Savior #3: Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC)
The CPSC is a federal agency that exists to protect you and your little ones from unreasonable and avoidable harm from the products you use.
What are they responsible for?
The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) keeps manufacturers and buyers informed on product regulations and safety criteria. Additionally, they are also responsible for enforcing the rules that they have fixed.
When customers complain about a particular product, the Consumer Products Safety Commission hangs onto those complaints and searches for patterns. For example, does a specific product have many complaints regarding children getting their fingers stuck in one of its components?
Then, they use that data to develop new or improved standards concerning specific products. Apart from this, the organization also has the power to recall or ban products that deem dangerous.
Savior #4: Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA)
In the juvenile product industry, a group of manufacturing companies came together in 1962 to effectively tackle common industry-related issues. Today, the JPMA represents around three hundred product manufacturers as its members.
What are they responsible for?
A Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification seal signifies that a product manufacturer has undergone an additional set of testing apart from the standard requirements fixed by the government.
Every product released by a JPMA seal holding manufacturer must fulfill guidelines set by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association and the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). In addition to these, every year, all products are tested again to ensure they meet standards.
Please note that if a product is without the JPMA seal, it does not necessarily mean that it is not safe. Many reputable baby product manufacturers have chosen not to join the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.
Consequently, certain baby products, such as toys, pacifiers, and crib mattresses, do not get certified by this organization. Nonetheless, they still must meet federal safety standards set by the government.
Is Every Baby Product Sold Safe to Use?
Frankly, the answer to this question depends entirely on you and your definition of “safe.”
Products that are supposed to be used by a child of the ages twelve and under have to meet a set of standards, especially regarding choking hazards and poisonous materials.
They are obligated to be first examined and verified by a Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) approved third-party lab to be certified. Moreover, they also must have a registration card in case of product recalls. However, “general use products” don’t have to be tested or verified by Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) approved third-party laboratory. However, that doesn’t mean that the mandatory standards are only specific to young children.
So, what exactly is a “kid’s product” because, more often than not, this is where things turn a bit fuzzy for parents. Just because your three-year-old toddler enjoys doodling all over the wall with your favorite pen does not mean it is a kid’s product.
Suppose that pen has fun markers (or cartoons) that are especially appealing and targeted towards children. In that case, it is possibly a kid’s product. Hence, perhaps that glitter pen with Jerry’s bobblehead on top and a flashlight at the bottom could be a kid’s product. Perhaps not if you are also into bobbleheads and Tom & Jerry.
For more information, you can head to CPSC’s official website to check out the categories they have developed for durable toddler and infant products. The list can help you to figure out what safety guidelines are in place.
Every product category has a clear definition and an additional set of guidelines pertaining particularly to products that fall under it. There are specific, well-researched, and well-developed standards that every kid’s product must meet to be certified. That should certainly provide you with some peace of mind as a parent. Of course, that wouldn’t be applicable if the product you are worried about does not actually fall under any of the categories listed by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).
Repercussions of An Unregulated Baby Product
Please note that if a product is unregulated, it can still be sold in the market. However, it is entirely up to the manufacturer to ensure that they are tested for safety. Therefore, based on what the manufacturer feels is essential, a baby product might be tested several times or not at all.
Additionally, this leaves the criteria of “what is safe?” and “what is not” entirely on the manufacturer. Also, their standards might not precisely be universal. Please note: as there are fixed guidelines to violate, products recall on unregulated items can also be very difficult to set in motion.
Moreover, you should also know that there are tons of unregulated baby products available in the market for sale. Surface-resting cradles, car seat add-ons, lounger, Moses basket, etc., are a few of the many unregulated baby products.
Again, though they may not necessarily be dangerous, the safety testing is entirely up to the firm producing it. Some manufacturers would go extra lengths to ensure the product is safe and free from all risks of harm. In contrast, others would simply close shop and/or change the brand name if (God forbid!) a bunch of babies got injured.
4 Ways to Ensure Baby Product Safety
- Read given product instructions – Most parents are guilty of skipping this simple yet highly effective means to ensure their kid’s safety. Therefore, no matter what the product is or how much you know about it, ALWAYS be sure to read and follow the notices that come with a baby product. Doing this will make sure that you and your kid are using it correctly.
- Keep an eye open for warnings– Another crucial thing parents tend to overlook. A baby product may have a labeled notice instructing you NOT to leave the baby in it on a table or uneven surface. If that’s the case, believe me, there is a high probability that a baby has fallen off a table or uneven surface while in it. Similarly, if a product states “not intended for sleep,” it is likely that the company (or its lawyers) consider it essential to your baby’s well-being. Obviously, the lesson here is to FOLLOW the instructions!
- IMPORTANT! Check government product recalls – What if you don’t have access to your product’s registration card? In that case, I strongly recommend you click here to check the list of baby products recalled by the government. If your product is on the list, be sure to get rid of it ASAP!
- Ask yourself questions– A good baby product safety rule is to ask yourself important questions. Some of these questions may be:
- Can it fall on my kid?
- Can my kid eat it?
- Can it harm my kid?
- Can my kid fall out and/or of this product?
- Can it scratch/pinch my kid’s skin?
- Can my kid easily bite or chew a piece of it off?
- Can it strangle my kid?
These questions are only some that you could ask yourself before making a purchase. Remember, the questions greatly depend on the product you are looking to purchase. Therefore, let your juices flow and ask all necessary questions before buying a product for your precious little bundle of joy!
I am sure it feels great to know that there is more than one baby product safety regulator out there, working to ensure the products you buy and use are safe for your little ones. However, what is even more crucial is knowing the fact that they do not encompass everything.
Keep in mind that there are a plethora of loopholes that shady companies use as leverage. Hence, remember at all times that just because it is sold does not necessarily mean it is safe for your family.
This is when many folks like to strike into voice, “back in our days, we did not have all these silly product regulations and whatnot.”
I just plead with you to stop and think. Untold numbers of kids have gone bouncing down half-story stairs in their walkers, fractured their heads by falling out of high chairs, or got their skulls stuck in playpen railings. Because if that had not happened, we would not have so many life-saving baby product safety regulators out there today. So once again, THANK YOU!
If you have any other advice for parents concerned about product safety for their kids, please share them in the comments below. I am sure all of them would appreciate the gesture!