Now that the weather is colder, the sleepwear that I am choosing for Dominik has changed. During the warmer months, I usually stick to just a shirt for him. But a cool night now requires long sleeves and pants. But there are bigger differences between pajamas than just patterns. Some sleepwear is just plain fabric, but others, particularly the loose and fleece ones, are made to be flame resistant.
At first, the sound of flame resistant pajamas for babies and children sounds like a good idea. Keeping kids safe from fire when they are at their most vulnerable? Of course! But look deeper. What makes them flame resistant? Those pajamas are doused with a cocktail of chemicals that are linked to numerous health issues.
Children’s sleepwear needs to adhere to certain requirements. Anything loose fitting needs to be treated with flame retardants because of the possibility of the loose fabric catching an open flame. These rules usually only apply to sleepwear for children between 9 months and 14 years. The chemicals used can be ones like polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which are the most common, but can include many others as well. These chemicals are linked to:
- cognitive problems
- thyroid issues
- hormone irregularities
- delayed development, both mentally and physically
- nervous system damage
The flame retardants found on children’s pajamas can be absorbed through the skin and into our bodies, plus they are polluting the environment. And they don’t just wash off with a few extra rounds through the laundry. These chemicals are, per regulations, meant to stay effective through more than fifty washes.
How do you avoid this?
- Avoid loose fitting sleepwear, choose snug fitting instead.
- Choose natural fibers. Some natural fibers are treated. But all synthetic fibers are treated with flame retardants, whether or not the label states it.
- Check the labels. The tags will say something like “not flame resistant…” or “to maintain flame resistance…” Stick to the ones that are not flame resistant.
Whatever you choose for your child’s sleepwear, of course it is always a good idea to practice fire safety. This includes installing smoke detectors, keeping children away from open flames, and providing supervision.
When our children sleep, they are at their most vulnerable. Sleepwear that has been treated with chemicals that are linked to health issues is just not something that I feel comfortable wrapping my son in. But it’s up to the parents, ultimately, to make the choice and weigh the pros and cons of flame resistance pajamas because the greater goal is to keep kids safe.