A new set of safety standards regulating the manufacturing of children’s portable mesh play yards, also known as pack ‘n’ plays, has been approved by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. More than 2,100 incidents involving these play yards, including 170 injuries and 60 fatalities, were reported to the CPSC between November 2007 and December 2011.
The new safety guidelines include the following:
Play yards must be equipped with latch and lock mechanisms to prevent the play yard from folding while a child is inside.
Play yard manufacturers must perform floor strength tests on their products to ensure they are constructed well enough to prevent a child from becoming entrapped.
Manufacturers must also perform stability tests to ensure the play yard will not tip over, and entrapment tests on any attachment accessories to ensure a child’s head does not become trapped when these accessories are in use.
Play yards must also conform to a minimum side height requirement to ensure children are unable to climb out of the play pen by themselves.
Between 1999 and 2004, according to CPSC statistics, 47 infants died by suffocation, entrapment, or strangulation in play yard related incidents. Some of these deaths were caused by product malfunction, while others were the result of parents and guardians altering the play yard in an unsafe way, such as installing an incompatible mattress, or placing the play yard in an unsafe area such as near a window blind cord.
Consumer Reports Magazine offers several safety tips to parents using mesh play yards to help prevent accidents from occurring. These safety suggestions include:
Follow all assembly and use instructions included in the product’s owner’s manual.
Double check to ensure that the play yard’s hinges and latching features, as well as the floor pad, center floor, and top rails are correctly installed and properly positioned each time the product is used.
If the play yard is designed for one child, do not place two or more children inside of it at one time, and never leave a child inside a play yard with the sides down.
If a child has grown past the weight limit specified by the play yard’s owner’s manual, discontinue using the bassinet attachment. Parents should also stop using the bassinet attachment if their child has developed the ability to push up on hands and knees, roll over, sit up, or pull up.
If a play yard has broken hinges, protruding rails or rivets, torn or punctured covers or rails, parents should discontinue using the play yard immediately.