Thursday, June 28, 2012

Flame-retardant pajamas (yet another thing to lose sleep over)

A few nights ago, I greeted my husband at the front door and blurted out, "We have to get rid of all of S's flame-retardant pajamas!"

Nick stared at me blankly for several seconds before responding. "Don't we want her pajamas to be flame-retardant?"

It was a valid question. But no, we don't, because we just found out that flame-retardant pajamas have been treated with chemicals that are potentially harmful to S.

Inspecting S's pajama drawer like a mad woman, I find a few culprits, including a cute duckie top-and-bottom set. Holding up the pj's, I eye them warily. They look innocent enough. I decide to do a little more research before tossing them aside.

Here's what I find: The sleepwear saga has been around since the 1970s, when the Consumer Products Safety Commission decided baby pajamas needed to self-extinguish when exposed to a flame. In 1996, the OK was given to untreated cotton pajamas that fit snugly, the idea being that flammability is reduced when there is less air between skin and fabric. Today, you might find the term "flame resistant" on the tag of your child's pj's; that likely means the fabric meets the CPSC requirements without needing any treatment. "Flame retardant," on the other hand, tells you that the pj's have been treated with chemicals. Although these chemicals don't transfer very easily from fabric to skin, they're still a bit scary, having been linked to everything from genetic abnormalities to cancer. Of course, the treatment also ensures greater protection in case of a fire--which, back to my husband's point, does seem like a good thing--so what's a mom (or dad) to do?

I guess one tactic would be sticking my head in the sand and ignoring all of the panic-inducing stuff out there. On the other hand, I could read as much as possible, overwhelming myself and everyone around me with new things to worry about. Neither seem like sustainable solutions.

Or instead, I could educate myself within reason, make informed decisions on the things that matter most to my family, and then try my damnedest to let the rest go.

Decision #1: I'm ditching the duckies. As cute as they are, they're just not worth losing sleep over.


  1. This has been a hot topic lately! Check out the fitted, organic pjs at Coco Baby in the South End - super soft and totally safe plus good looking!

    Coco Baby
    1636 Washington Street
    Boston MA 02118

    Disclaimer: this comment was written by the store owner --- but we researched pjs intensively and truly found these to be the best, wouldn't put my girls in anything less!

  2. We grappled with this too, but decided that ultimately, by the time flame retardant pjs become useful, there are already BIG problems (umm, fire!). We, too, ditched our version of the duckies.

  3. Yeah, I think by the time the PJ's are on fire, you probably already have an issue. It's not like they will "resist" the fire, just burn less quickly or something? Not worth the chemicals I think.

  4. Wow! So many things to become educated about these days! But the health and safety of precious little ones is worth all the time spent researching options!! Now this Nana will know which cute pjs to buy for her little darlings and I hope I can find safe duckies!!