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European Union: Introduction of Stricter Requirements for Nursery Products

(Oct. 23, 2009) On October 21, 2009, the European Commission took measures to ensure that the youngest consumers across the European Union (EU) enjoy safe nursery products, including sleeping bags, crib mattresses, and duvets. The proposed new rules are designed to eliminate the risk of death or injury due to loose parts, entrapment from bad mattresses, or asphyxiation from cords. Another objective is to establish stability and design requirements to minimize the danger from falls and injuries due to suspended beds for infants. The nursery products affected will have to carry warnings and also clear instructions on how each item is intended to be used.

The impetus behind this legislative measure was worldwide surveys that indicate that infants and young children tend to fall victim to accidents because of poorly designed nursery items. The Commission referred in particular to the European Injury Database, which, during the period 2005-2007, recorded 17,000 crib-related accidents in the EU involving children from birth to four years of age. It also noted that in the United States in 2007, 62,000 children younger than five years old were taken to hospital emergency wards for injuries caused by nursery products.

The proposal will be examined by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers within a three-month period and then be returned to the Commission, along with any suggested changes. Subsequently, the Commission will forward a mandate to the European Standardization Committee to translate the requirements into EU standards. This last step may take up to two years. (Press Release, RAPID, IP/09/1554, Consumers: EU to Set New Safety Standards for Sleeping Products for Newborns and Young Children (Oct. 21, 2009), available at