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Children's Sleepwear Regulations 101

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It’s hard to believe but summer is almost over and as we’re heading into colder weather, you might be considering buying your children new pajamas. And if you’re looking for cute 100% cotton nightgowns or loose fitting 100% cotton pajamas... they are nowhere to be found.

It's because our government put into law regulations to tell us what we can and cannot put on our kids to sleep in.

So, if you’re looking for children pajama’s, you basically have three choices...

PJ’s with
a) flame retardant chemicals,
b) polyester or
c) cotton (preferably organic) that is made to be tight fitting

The Consumer Products Safety Commission have set the standards for sleepwear and they are the ones who determine if the item is considered sleepwear or not. Even if a company identifies a two-piece set as loungewear and it has moons and stars on it, they fall under the sleepwear regulations. There is no such thing as loungewear in the eyes of the Consumer Products Safety commission and manufactures must comply.

That being said, these are the three types of pajama’s that can be sold on the market:

PJ’s with Flame Retardant Chemicals:

In 1970, Congress implemented regulations for children’s sleepwear stating that all sleepwear from ages 9 months to 14 years must be flame resistant. (Children under the age of 9 months are not subject to the requirement because they cannot crawl to a flame source and are not left alone for long periods of time.) To comply, manufacturers started adding a flame-retardant chemical called Tris to kids’ sleepwear, which was later discovered as carcinogenic. Arlene Blum, a biophysical chemist proved that Tris was mutagenic and was absorbed through the skin into children’s bodies.  However, after the ban manufacturers started to use “less dangerous” flame retardants like halogenated hydrocarbons like chlorine and bromine, inorganic flame retardants called antimony oxides and phosphate-based compounds.

Believe it or not, the law does not require manufactures to disclose what fire-retardant chemicals they use!

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reported evidence that many flame retardant chemicals are linked to adverse health effects in both animals and humans. These include:

  • Endocrine and thyroid disruption
  • Damaged immune system
  • Reproductive toxicity
  • Cancer
  • Adverse effects on fetal and child development
  • Reduced neurologic function
  • Infertility
  • Kidney and liver damage

If a retailer tells you that you can wash the chemicals out, don’t believe them. The regulation requires that the fabric be tested to keep their flame resistance properties for at least 50 washes.


PJ’s made with Polyester fabric:

You can also find polyester pajamas in the market and they don’t have any kind of regulation because polyester fabrics burn slow and self-extinguish. Some of the synthetic polyester jammies on the market are manufactured with chemically inserted fire retardants and you would never know this because again, they are not required by law to disclose the types of fire-retardant chemicals they are using.


PJ’s made with 100% Cotton and Made to be Tight-fitting

In 2000 the Consumer Products Safety Commission amended the sleepwear law so that manufacturers could make 100% cotton pajamas as long as they were tight fighting. This meant that particular measurements needed to meet the standards set forth by the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

When my girls were young, they slept hot.
I refused to put them in polyester or flame-retardant pajamas. When I would visit my relatives in Egypt, I would always bring back cotton pajama’s and nightgowns because I could not find any here, so when I started Under the Nile 22 years ago, the first collection I designed was children’s pajamas because it was extremely important to me that my girls sleep in pajamas free from chemicals. At that time there were no other organic cotton pajama brands on the market, so I was happy I could finally bring a safe non toxic alternative to the market place.


Shopping for children's pajamas? The solution is pretty obvious. If you want chemical free and flame-retardant free pajamas, buy organic. Look for the below yellow card that is attached to the pajama stating that they are not flame resistant - this will guarantee they are within the Consumer Products Safety Commission for sleepwear.

All Under the Nile Long Johns meet this requirement. Our longs johns are made from a soft 1 x 1 rib knit, so even with the tight-fitting requirement, they are super comfy.

In the end, parents have the final say as to what kind of pajama’s their children wear - chemical laced or chemical free.

Make informed decisions by doing your research!

1 comment

  • H1333: February 11, 2022

    This blog is amazing! I was actually thinking about writing a similar blog, but I will link yours in my website if that’s ok and give you the credit! I hope to promote more people to use your products. As a medical professional, I am so impressed with what I have seen on your website so far and I can tell you truly care.

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