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Compliance for Baby Carriers in the US: 3 Key Enforcement Entities

Image of a caregiver walking by the water with a child on their back and text that reads "who enforces compliance for baby carriers in the us? The astm standards for slings, frame packs, and soft carriers are only part of US Product Compliance. Learn about the laws that govern consumer products in the US and who is responsible for enforcing them.

Compliance for baby carriers in the US includes national, state, and city laws, rules, and regulations.

When a company sends a product to a lab for US compliance testing, generally labs will refer to that as “ASTM testing.” In some cases, the labs are testing strictly to the ASTM standards. In other cases, the tests are for compliance to the US Law CPSIA.

If this sounds confusing, it’s because it is a bit convoluted. In fact, untangling and staying on top of compliance laws is the most common reasons people join our organization.

The information in this article is designed to give you the information you need to ensure you are bringing compliant baby carriers to the US market.

What organizations govern compliance for baby carriers in the US?

ASTM International: a non-governing nonprofit group

ASTM International is a nonprofit organization that operates entirely separately from the US government. For over 100 years, ASTM International has been publishing standards detailing safety specifications for various products, and their standards are considered “gold standard” in many parts of the world.

Published ASTM standards include the standards for baby carriers, including slings, frame packs, and soft carriers. For this reason, many people assume that ASTM is the governing body in charge of the “rules.” In fact, the ASTM only publishes the standards; they do not create laws or regulations.

ASTM International brings together experts from all aspects of product development, manufacture, advocacy, and testing, including representatives from government agencies. Their standards take years to develop. ASTM International holds continuous committee meetings for each standards to ensure that these standards are updated as new product hazards, research, and other information becomes available.

The US government does not have the resources to create these kinds of standards. Therefore, when a law requires that the government impose a mandatory safety standard, usually those in charge of these laws to review the ASTM standards and adopt them as the standard required by the US government. In some cases, the standards are adopted exactly as written. In other cases, the US government modifies the provisions of the standard in certain ways.

For this reason, when we reference “ASTM standards,” it’s important to understand that there may be ADDITIONAL requirements according to US law that are not written into the ASTM standards.

Other standards-writing organizations

You’ll need to read each standard and regulation carefully. Sometimes, a standards document or regulation will reference another written standard.

This can get confusing when piecing together all of the regulations. It can also be time-consuming and expensive to gather, read, and understand all relevant documents.

For instance, the ASTM standard for infant slings, F2907-22, references separate standards from ANSI, the American National Standards Institute, when describing the requirements for warning labels.

United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (US CPSC)

The US CPSC (or just “CPSC”) is the US government branch dedicated to overseeing (surprise!) consumer product safety.

The CPSC is separate from the legislative branch of US government, and as such, the CPSC does not write or pass any US laws.

Instead, the CPSC is tasked with creating policies that guide the implementation and enforcement of certain US laws, including the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. In addition, the CPSC is generally the agency who enforces these rules.

Product recalls in the US are issued by the CPSC, as well as fines and other penalties related to product safety. The CPSC is in charge of adopting and defining mandatory safety standards, among other things. This includes overseeing compliance for baby carriers.

Although the CPSC is a completely separate organization from the ASTM, the CPSC participates in the creation and ongoing updating of ASTM voluntary and mandatory safety standards. You can learn more about how the US government, via the CPSC, is involved in the ASTM standards process on the ASTM website.

US Federal Trade Commission

The US CPSC is tasked with ensuring that the products general consumers buy are safe.

The US Federal Trade Commission (US FTC, or “FTC”) is also tasked with protecting consumers, but not in a product-specific way. The Federal Trade Commission governs rules about how companies communicate with consumers, laws about competition, marketing, and other areas of consumer protection.

One of the laws that the FTC is responsible for overseeing is the Textile Labeling Act, which is relevant to compliance for baby carriers.

State of California

California’s “Proposition 65” act is well known to all kinds of professionals in the US.

“Prop 65” governs over 900 chemicals and is technically enforced by the Attorney General’s office.

This law applies to any products sold within the state of California. It does *not* apply to products purchased directly by California citizens from outside California. However, many major corporations, such as Amazon, have a presence in the state of California, so products sold on their platform are covered under this law.

“Prop 65” does not require any testing related to compliance for baby carriers. However, testing for certain chemicals is strongly recommended. The limits on many chemicals that are set by California are much lower than national laws, and if your product contains any of these chemicals in excess of the amount specified in the law, you may be subject to a lawsuit and financial penalties if you don’t meet strict labeling requirements.

The BCIA has negotiated member discounts on testing relevant to Prop 65.

US States and Cities

Some individual US states and cities impose their own laws governing consumer products. The most notable laws related to compliance for baby carriers are the regulations about certain padded, stuffed, and filled products.

Generally, this set of laws is described as “Law Label Laws,” “Law Labels,” or the “Law Label Rule.”

In truth, there are approximately 30 US states and cities that have their own iteration of these rules, originally designed to protect consumers from buying mattresses stuffed with hazardous materials.

Each city/state has their own parameters and enforcement rules.

Some states have requirements that you pay a fee to register products in their jurisdiction. Others only have labeling requirements.

What are the key laws related to compliance for baby carriers in the US?

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (enforced by the CPSC)

Image is a visual representation of the information about how the consumer product safety improvement act impacts compliance for baby carriers and is explained in the text that follows

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) is usually the law people refer to when they are discussing compliance for baby carriers. It can be confusing to talk about because the acronym for the law (CPSIA) and the acronym for the governing body that enforces the law (CPSC) are so similar.

This law was passed by the US Senate in 2009, and the history of the law and its implementation is both hilarious and horrifying. Although it took several years for US government to work out the details of the CPSIA, the law now generally contains three provisions:

  • product registration cards
  • marking and labeling
  • mandatory standards for durable nursery products (ASTM standards, sometimes with added provisions)

In order to meet the regulations for compliance for baby carriers, you need to comply with ALL OF these rules.

When you test your product against the relevant ASTM standard, you are only testing for PART OF the law governing children’s products. Each aspect of the CPSIA has stringent requirements for things such as text size and required verbiage.

For this reason, some brands choose to purchase our full compliance service so that we can help ensure they’re not missing any key pieces of compliance.

The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance also offers countless resources and information about compliance with these rules, a comprehensive product registration program, discounts at certain test labs, and other supports to members. In fact, passage of the CPSIA and its complex requirements were a major influence on the formation of the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance.

Textile Labeling Act (enforced by the FTC)

Image is a visual representation of the information about how the textile labeling act impacts compliance for baby carriers and is explained in the text that follows

The Textile Labeling Act is another law governing compliance for baby carriers. The law governs textile products imported into and sold in the United States.

The Federal Trade Commission is responsible for enforcing the law.

The three key components of this law that are relevant to compliance for baby carriers are:

  • Product care labels
  • Fiber content labels
  • Labeling the product’s country of origin

These labeling requirements are separate from the labeling requirements of the CPSIA, and also separate from the labeling requirements in the ASTM standards.

Law Labels

Image is a visual representation of the information about how law labels impact compliance for baby carriers and is explained in the text that follows

Law Label requirements are state and local requirements for the labeling of products with padding or filling in them. This includes baby carriers and any other product designed to be “sat or reclined upon.”

These laws are enforced differently in each jurisdiction.

Fourteen states/cities state that compliance for baby carriers and other products covered by these laws requires registration and fees.

There are approximately 30 jurisdictions in all that have requirements related to law labels.

California’s Proposition 65

Image is a visual representation of the information about how california prop 65 impacts compliance for baby carriers and is explained in the text that follows

California’s Proposition 65 and its implications on compliance for baby carriers has already been described in the section above. It is a state law enforced by the California Attorney General’s office.

The law covers limits and labels for approximately 900 different chemicals.

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