Parents are urged to follow the advice issued by the Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service when purchasing baby sleep bags after some brands failed quality tests.
Baby sleep bags are full length fabric bags with a neck opening and armholes but without sleeves or a hood. They are designed to keep the baby warm, when sleeping in a cot or Moses basket, without the need for extra bedding.
A product carrying the British Standard label can give consumers’ confidence that it meets the agreed specifications laid down in the standard.
Although it is currently not compulsory to produce a baby sleep bag to a British Standard, if a manufacturer claims that their product meets the Standard, then it must be manufactured in accordance with strict specifications.
The service sent 10 different baby sleep bags for laboratory testing, sampled from across the range including high street retailers, supermarkets and department stores, to check that they lived up to the claims that they are compliant with the latest British Standard requirements.
Many of the products tested failed to live up to this claim. Some of the products had neck sizes which were too small or too large.
Several products tested were found to shrink following washing, fabric loops used for display purposes were a potential risk and could trap little fingers.
Some of the garments had zips which did not meet the British Standard specification. To meet the standard they must fasten securely at both ends to ensure that they cannot come loose allowing the baby to slip out of the bag while sleeping.
Labels, providing information, including warnings, tog values and care instructions, were unclear on some products.
The manufacturers and sellers of the garments have been informed of the results and will be required to ensure that any unsafe products are removed and that labels on products do not mislead consumers.
The Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service advise anyone purchasing this type of garment to:
Check labels, is the information clear? Look for the British Standard BS8510:2009 on the label
• Check any fastenings and fit of the product and make sure there are no small parts which could come loose.
• Make sure that Velcro fastenings or zip fastenings are covered so as not to come into contact with baby’s skin.
• Always follow manufacturers washing instructions. Washing a garment in a higher than advised temperature could cause the garment to shrink affecting the temperature or comfort of the child.
• Avoid purchasing products with added ‘loops’ intended for display as a babies fingers could become caught
• Check that the labels are secure and are not at risk of coming loose posing a choking hazard.
• Check the stitching and seams – do not purchase if it seems unfinished or rough.
Despite the results, parents should still look for products which carry the British Standard mark, in conjunction with the above advice.
• Don’t assume that because the label states a size (for example for 0-6 months) that it will fit your child, if the product a poor fit you should be able to return it for a full refund.
• Do not use the product if you think that it may be unsafe.
Councillor Anna Groskop, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Corporate and Community Services with responsibility for Trading Standards, said:
“New parents purchasing products for their young children look for reassurances that the products are safe.
“With so many products on the market it can be confusing, that’s why we carry out these tests so consumers can continue to have confidence in the assurances given by the British Standard mark.
“Manufacturers are duty bound to ensure all their products are safe and that they do not mislead consumers.”
Councillor Stuart Barker, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills with responsibility for Trading Standards, said:
“Our Trading Standards officers rigorously tested different makes of baby bag, and they all fell short.
“The makers and sellers of these products are now required to ensure that all these products meet the specifications advertised.
“Despite the findings we advise that consumers always purchase the products that carry the British Standard mark.
“This mark, when used in conjunction with the advice we have issued, will ensure that parents purchase the very safest products.”
Councillor Robert Excell, Torbay Council’s Executive Lead for Community Services with Responsibility for Trading Standards, said:
“New parents have enough to worry about without being misled. Manufacturers and shops who make a promotional claim must be able to substantiate it and we found that many of the items fell short of the claims made on the labels.
“We have written to the retailers and have made it clear that the products which did not live up to the claims must be removed from the market or relabelled so they do not continue to mislead consumers.”