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Children’s PJs: What Those Scary-Looking Labels Really Mean

Labeling on children’s pajamas can be confusing and misleading at first glance. The label pictured above is big and bright and seems a little alarming. Another common clothing label says, “Not intended for children’s sleepwear”. This might sound like there is something wrong with the article of clothing, however, the reality is these are great labels! They mean that the clothing is free from toxic flame retardants. Many flame retardants have been linked to serious health problems, including cancer, developmental problems, neurological deficits, and impaired fertility. To learn more about the harmful effects of flame retardants, read our articles: Protect Your Family from Flame Retardants and Flame Retardant Chemicals: What We’ve Learned.

The federal regulations on Children’s Sleepwear actually require the use of flame retardants if the PJs don’t fit snugly. Because any loose edges could potentially catch on fire, there are very specific rules that define a snug fit. If the article of clothing doesn’t adhere to those rules, and if it does not have flame retardants, then it cannot be sold as “Children’s Sleepwear”. This is why you’ll see some clothing categorized as “loungewear” or the label that says, “Not intended for children’s sleepwear”.

The history of the flame retardant regulations is interesting – it’s an outdated law from a time when smoking in bed was a leading cause of house fires. To take the blame off cigarettes, Big Tobacco got involved and successfully pushed to add flame retardants to many products. As we begin to see the dangers of having these toxic chemicals in our homes, the laws are starting to change. If you want to know more about the history, check out this Chicago Tribune article, or the fascinating documentary, Toxic Hot Seat.

All of Sprout San Francisco’s sleepwear is selected because it is snugly fitting. Since we don’t want any toxic chemicals next to children’s skin, we only pick cute jammies made from organic, natural fabrics.