Federal law requires that play yards comply with the play yard standard and with additional requirements, including those of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA).
Manufacturers and importers of play yards must certify in a Children's Product Certificate that the play yards comply with the standard and the additional requirements after the play yards have been tested for compliance at a CPSC-accepted, third party laboratory. These requirements are reviewed below and in greater detail at Business Education.
A play yard is a framed enclosure with mesh or fabric sides. Play yards are intended for use in or around the home, for travel, and other purposes. Play yards provide sleeping and playing accommodations for a child who cannot climb out and is less than 35 in. (890 mm) in height. Play yards, much like non-full-size cribs, have an interior length dimension either greater than 55 in. (139.7 cm) or smaller than 49 3⁄4 in. (126.3 cm), or an interior width dimension greater than 30 5⁄8 in. (77.7 cm) or smaller than 25 3⁄8 in. (64.3 cm), or both. Inflatable play yards are not covered by the regulation.
Play yards that contain bassinet attachments must meet the play yard requirements and the bassinet requirements outlined here.
Play yards are similar to, but should not be confused with, non-full-size baby cribs. Play yards have non-rigid sides. For information about non-full-size baby cribs, click here.
The standard seeks to prevent the risk of deaths and injuries from falls, entrapment, suffocation, or escape, due to parts failure, dislodgment, or misassembly of the play yard and play yard accessories.
The standard has stringent requirements for various parts of the play yard, such as the top rail corner brackets, top rail locking/latching mechanisms, and floor support structures. More specifically, the principal requirements for play yards include:
- latching mechanism tests – intended to ensure that latching and locking mechanisms work as intended, preventing unintended folding while in use;
- top rail strength, configuration, and attachment tests – intended to ensure the top rails do not break or become detached from the frame, which could result in cuts, choking hazards, entrapment, strangulation, falls and/or escape;
- side height – intended to ensure that the sides are tall enough to limit the ability of a child who can stand from climbing out;
- deflection and strength of the mesh or fabric sides – intended to ensure that the material and assembly is strong enough to prevent tears, which could lead to entrapment, strangulation, falls or escape;
- floor strength - intended to ensure that the structure is strong enough to be used without breaking or deforming, which could lead to entrapment, falls or escape;
- mattress vertical displacement – intended to ensure that the mattress cannot be lifted easily by a child, which could lead to entrapment and suffocation.
- test requirements for accessories – intended to address any play yards that now, or may in the future, include accessories such as toys and changing tables. The standard already gives special attention to the hazards associated with bassinet accessory misassembly.
- label requirements – cover numerous hazards, such as falls from the play yard, suffocation on soft bedding, and strangulation on strings and cords.
Instructions should specify that only the mattress supplied with the play yard should be used to prevent head entrapment and suffocation between the mattress, sides, and floor structure. The manufacturer’s instructions should emphasize the important of securing the mattress to the play yard floor. CPSC staff also advises consumers of play yards not to use supplemental mattresses because supplemental mattresses may create a gap and lead to an entrapment hazard for the child.
Play yards are subject to requirements for surface coatings, lead and phthalate content, third party testing and certification, registration cards, and tracking labels. These requirements are discussed below and at Business Education:
- Surface Coating Limit: Play yards must not be painted with paint that contains more than 0.009 percent (90 ppm) lead.
- Lead Content Limit: Play yards must not contain greater than 100 ppm (0.01 percent) of total lead content in any accessible component part.
- Phthalate Content Limits: Plasticized components of play yards must not contain more than 0.1 percent of the following eight specified phthalates: di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP), di-n-pentyl phthalate (DPENP), di-n-hexyl phthalate (DHEXP), and dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP).
- Testing and Certification: Play yards, like all products that are designed or intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger, must be tested by an accredited third party laboratory accepted by the CPSC for compliance with the play yards standard and all other applicable children's product safety rules, including the lead paint, lead content, and phthalate content limits. Based on that testing, a domestic manufacturer (or importer) of play yards must issue a Children's Product Certificate specifying each applicable rule and indicating that the product complies with those rules.
- Product and Outer Package Labeling Requirements: Durable infant or toddler products, such as play yards, must be permanently marked with specific labeling information, including tracking labels, on the product and on the packaging. In addition, durable infant or toddler products are required to have additional product markings and a product registration card attached to the product. This chart summarizes the specific labeling and registration requirements that durable infant and toddler products must meet.