Dressing a baby or toddler isn’t just about style, warmth or comfort—it’s also about safety.
Whilst there are guidelines specifically aimed at keeping clothing safe, each country has slight variations with rules and regulations which mean not everything is made equally.
Despite these guidelines however, there have unfortunately been numerous injuries and deaths allegedly associated to clothing concerns and even clothing recalls.
It becomes essential then that anyone who is looking to purchase clothing for babies, toddlers and kids keeps a close look out for potential safety concerns.
Whilst we put our trust in large retailers and brands to only allow fit-for-purpose items to be made available, there are always garments or features that slip through the cracks. Clothing-related death and injury aren’t particularly common, but tragedies do sometimes occur, so it’s important to know what’s safe and what’s not for your child. You can find up-to-date information on current product recalls at Recalls.gov.
When choosing baby and toddler clothing, here are a few safety concerns to keep in mind:
1. Flammable Clothing
Where possible, choose flame-resistent clothing. According to regulations, baby and children’s sleepwear has to either be made from flame-resistant materials or fit snugly. Flame-resistant sleepwear isn’t necessarily treated with chemicals. Some polyester, for example, is inherently flame-resistant
Drawstrings are usually found on jackets and waistbands. If you purchase clothing with drawstrings designed for babies and older children, it is best to remove them before wear. Unfortunately they can pose a serious strangulation risk, can become caught on cribs, playground equipment, fences and in car doors or on other moving objects.
3. Shoelaces and ribbons
These items as well as other dangling clothing attachments pose the same risks associated with drawstrings. Velcro is a safer alternative for securing shoes on toddlers.
4. Loosely-knitted fabrics
Clothing that has loose seams and threads can wrap around a baby’s fingers or limbs, posing a risk of circulation being cut off. Cut all dangling threads before your baby wears a garment and avoid clothing that has seams with very few stitches per inch. Before you put socks or booties on your baby, turn them inside out to look for small threads that could capture toes too
5. Tight clothing
At the other extreme tightly-woven garments can cause strangulation or issues with circulation.
Skin can get caught in zippers, so these mechanisms are best avoided on young children’s clothing. Metal objects, such as snaps and zippers, can become dangerously hot and potentially burn a child, particularly when left in the sun, near a heating unit or when put into a dryer, so it’s best to avoid metal components on children’s clothing as well.
7. Buttons and embellishments
Babies and toddlers can potentially choke on nearly all small items, and that includes items that are regularly found on clothing. For example, buttons, bows, rhinestones and other decorative items should either be avoided on children’s clothing, or securely fastened.
There is no need to completely avoid clothing with these features on but parents should make a conscious effort to frequently check their children’s clothing to ensure there are no loose items. Especially after being in the laundry. In addition, if you purchase second-hand clothing it’s also particularly important to check the items thoroughly before wear, to ensure nothing could potentially come loose and be a choking hazard.