29 Sept 2017
New Safety Standard Established for Infant Bouncer Seats
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a final rule establishing a new mandatory safety standard for infant bouncer seats. This standard is a children's product safety rule that will require the issuance of a notice of requirements to explain how laboratories can become accredited as third-party conformity assessment bodies to test infant bouncer seats to the new standard. This rule will become effective as of 19 March 2018.
The new standard incorporates standard ASTM F2167-17, with two modifications related to warning label content and placement. This standard defines “infant bouncer seat” as “a freestanding product intended to support an occupant in a reclined position to facilitate bouncing by the occupant, with the aid of a caregiver or by other means.” These items are intended for infants who have not developed the ability to sit up unassisted (approximately 0 to 6 months of age). They vary widely in style and complexity but typically consist of a cloth cover stretched over a wire or tubular frame.
All bouncer seats support the child in an inclined position and some have adjustable seat backs. Various models include a unit that vibrates or bounces the chair and may play music or other sounds. Most bouncer seats also feature an accessory bar with attached toys that are, or at some point will be, within the child’s reach. Most models examined by CPSC staff provide a three-point restraint system consisting of wide cloth crotch restraints and short adjustable waist straps with plastic buckles.
The CPSC indicates that between 1 January 2006 and 6 July 2016 there were 347 incidents involving bouncer seats reported to the agency, including 12 fatalities and 54 injuries. The major cause of reported fatalities was suffocation resulting from unrestrained babies turning over in a bouncer or bouncers tipping over on soft surfaces (e.g., mattresses and comforters) when the bouncer was placed on adult beds and cribs. Additionally, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System has demonstrated 874 incidents involving bouncer seats from 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2015. The hazard patterns related to these incidents (485 of the 874) were mainly due to infants falling while in bouncers or from a bouncer placed in hazardous locations, such as kitchen countertops, tables and other elevated surfaces. Falls resulted in concussions and skull fractures to babies.
Section 104 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requires the CPSC to promulgate consumer product safety standards for a range of durable infant or toddler products. These standards must be substantially the same as applicable voluntary standards or more stringent than the voluntary standard if the Commission determines that more stringent requirements would further reduce the risk of injury associated with the product. As of late September 2017, the CPSC had issued standards for bassinets and cradles, bath seats, infant bath tubs, bed rails (portable), bedside sleepers, full-size cribs, non-full-size cribs, infant swings, infant walkers, play yards, strollers and carriages, toddler beds, hand-held infant carriers, frame child carriers, portable hook-on chairs, soft infant and toddler carriers, infant sling carriers and infant bouncer seats. As of that date standards had not yet been adopted for baby changing products, children’s folding chairs, stationary activity centres, gates and other enclosures for confining a child, high chairs and booster seats, although the Commission had issued proposed standards for some of these products (i.e., booster seats, high chairs, baby changing products, and children’s folding chairs and stools). A proposal to adopt mandatory standards for infant inclined sleep products is also currently under consideration.