Updated Sept 2018
We’ve been seeing a lot of aftermarket accessories and customized carrier add-ons on the market lately. We are also seeing embellished, beaded or decorated wraps and carriers coming directly from manufacturers. A lot of it is beautifully crafted; but is it safe? First and foremost, we want to make sure that these accessories do not compromise the safety of the product or introduce hazards that would not otherwise exist.
Here are some very general guidelines, whether you are a consumer, carrier manufacturer or an accessories maker. Note, this is not legal advice, but best practice guidelines and a way to get the conversation started.
What can you do?
If you choose to accessorize your carrier, please check the product literature to make sure you aren’t voiding the warranty or going against manufacturer guidelines.
If you must accessorize your carrier please be very cautious with things like reach straps and hood ties, which can be a significant strangulation risk if they are too long. If you must have them, request that they be made an appropriate length. The European baby carrier standard (EN13209) as well as the technical report (TR16512) stipulates that cords, straps, and ties shall have a maximum length of 220mm (22cm or 8.6 inches) when a tensile force of 25N is applied- that is, hood ties should not stretch out longer than 8.6 inches. Exercise extreme caution with anything added to the end of reach straps. Is it going to be a choking hazard if a curious baby chews something off? Beads, buttons and even small stuffed figures are never a good idea.
Are the materials used safe and appropriate for an infant to suck on? Are embellishments a choking hazard? Woven fabric is exempt from lead testing, however painted, printed or metallic fabrics, snaps, buttons, beads and plastic or metal pieces all require lead testing. Both the ASTM F2236 and F2907 standards specifically reference 16 CRF 1501 which outlines small parts testing requirements which addresses choking, ingestion and aspiration hazards. Small parts must not fit completely into the small parts test cylinder, which has a diameter of 1.75 inches. If small parts are attached, ie. snaps or buckles, they must not detach under force. For a longer explanation of 16 CFR 1501, this legal guide is a good place to start.
On the topic of dyed and hand-painted carriers, is the dye or paint used appropriate and safe? Will the dye process damage the structural integrity of a carrier? Have dyes and paints been lead tested and are they colourfast so as not to be ingested?
Aftermarket accessories are unregulated products, which means it is very much a buyer-beware market. Accessory makers will want to familiarize themselves with current regulations and laws, whether those are CPSIA or European regulations for children’s products and toys. Please help us spread the word to other babywearing parents, manufacturers and accessory makers!
Are you a custom carrier or accessories maker and wondering about safety regulations and liability issues? Please contact the BCIA and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.