Vol. 1047 | 24 Oct 2018

There have been several standards published by CEN (the European standards body) which relate to children’s sleep environment. These standards have been developed in response European Commission mandate M/497 Standardisation mandate on the safety of child-care articles.

What standards have been published?

  • BS EN 16781: Textile child care articles. Safety requirements and test methods for children's sleep bags.
  • BS EN 16779-1. Textile child care articles. Safety requirements and test methods for children's cot duvets. Part 1. Duvet (excluding duvet covers) Cot Duvet covers (Part 2 for duvet covers is in development)
  • BS EN 16780. Textile child care articles. Safety requirements and test methods for children's cot bumpers
  • BS EN 16890: 2017 Children's furniture. Mattresses for cots and cribs. Safety requirements and test methods


During 2007-2008, the European Commission carried out a study, following consultations with Member States, which identified the most high-risk nursery products for which there are either no safety standards or for which the existing standard does not cover all the risks.

The main risks associated with these products are as follows:

  • Cot mattresses. The main risks are entrapment and flammability. For example, entrapment of the of the baby due to design problems, e.g., inappropriate size – the mattress is too small and leaves gaps where the child can get trapped or suffocate. Also risks due to failure to meet flammability requirements.
  • Sleep bags for babies and cot bumpers. Main risks are linked to strangulation, suffocation and choking, due to cords, loops, detachable parts or filling materials coming loose.
  • Children's duvets. Main risks linked to suffocation and hyperthermia. Without suitable safety information, these might contribute to the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) because of overheating and asphyxia.
  • Suspended baby beds. Main risks are suffocation, entrapment and injury, due to bad design – instability or lack of structural integrity (for suspended beds).


  • According to the European Injury Database, between 2005 and 2007, more than 17,000 accidents in the EU involving children from 0-4 years happened in cots.
  • Overheating in infants has been shown be a contributory factor to SIDS.
  • A study by Washington University School of Medicine in 2015 and published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that 48 infant deaths from 1985-2012 were specifically attributed to cot bumpers. An additional 146 infants were involved in cot bumper incidents in which the babies nearly suffocated, choked or were strangled.
  • In 2013 in the U.S. cot bumpers were banned in Chicago and Maryland and Ohio banned the use in 2017. As recently as May 2018 recalls in the U.S. took place for cot bumpers considered to have safety hazards (long ties). Similar EU safety related recalls on nursery textiles have taken place over the last 3-5 years.

How has this been addressed?

  • In 2009 the European Commission established the intent to develop new safety standards for children’s sleeping items.
  • These were intended to assist in the prevention of cot related accidents.
  • On 2nd July 2010, The Journal of the European Union announced a Commission Decision (2010/376/EU) on the safety requirements to be met by European Standards for certain products in the sleep environment of children pursuant to Directive 2001/95/EC  (General Product Safety)

What does this mean to me?

  • Under General Product safety, these mandated standards are now available to use as the presumption of conformity by manufacturers, retailers, distributors and enforcement authorities.
  • The standards will become mandatory when they have been published as harmonized standards in to the Official Journal of the European Union
  • To better manage the safety of your product the requirements and advice/guidance within the standards should be closely followed and incorporated within your product development and control procedures.
  • Labelling should be clear to users and best industry practice includes regular due diligence on critical performance aspects.

For additional information please contact:

Dave Smith
+44 7483 045477


Subscribe to Insight