Federal law requires that hand-held infant carriers comply with the Safety Standard for Hand-Held Infant Carriers, 16 CFR part 1225 (effective January 1, 2021), and with additional requirements, including those of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA).
Note that hand-held infant carriers that function as car seats are also regulated by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, under 49 C.F.R. § 571.213 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 213.
Manufacturers and importers of hand-held infant carriers must certify in a Children's Product Certificate that the hand-held infant carriers comply with the standard and the additional requirements after the hand-held infant carriers have been tested for compliance at a CPSC-accepted, third party laboratory. These requirements are discussed below and at: www.cpsc.gov/BusinessEducation.
A hand-held infant carrier is a freestanding, rigid or semi-rigid-sided product intended to carry an occupant, whose torso is completely supported by the product, to facilitate transportation by a caregiver by means of hand-holds or handles.
There are two categories of hand-held infant carriers: hand-held infant carrier seats and hand-held bassinets/cradles. The former often double as an automotive child restraint system (i.e., car seat). The second category, hand-held bassinets/cradles, are carriers designed for the occupant to lie flat, to facilitate sleeping.
The standard seeks to minimize the risk of deaths and injuries associated with the use of hand-held infant carriers outside of a motor vehicle, specifically incidents related to handle strength and integrity, restraint use, carrier tip over, and falls from elevated surfaces.
The standard is published in the Code of Federal Regulations at 16 CFR Part 1225. The standard incorporates by reference ASTM F2050-19. ASTM F2050-19, the Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Hand-Held Infant Carriers, details the specific requirements and descriptions of the tests for hand-held infant carriers and can be purchased from ASTM International.
The CPSC standard includes performance requirements specific to hand-held infant carriers, general performance requirements, and labeling requirements. The key provisions of the hand-held infant carrier standard include the following:
- Carry Handle Auto-Locking–this requirement applies only to products having a rigid, adjustable carry handle that rotates about a singular axis and locks. The requirement mandates that the handle must lock automatically when placed into the manufacturer’s designated carry position.
- Carry Handle Integrity–intended to ensure that the carry handle does not break or unlatch during normal or foreseeable use.
- Restraint System–intended to ensure that a restraint system is provided on hand-held carrier seats to secure a child in the seated position. This requirement also prohibits restraints in hand-held bassinets/cradles.
- Slip Resistance–intended to prevent carriers from slipping or falling from elevated surfaces.
- Warnings–intended to alert the caregiver to infant strangulation, fall, and suffocation hazards when using hand-held infant carriers.
The ASTM standard also includes the following general requirements:
- requirements for latching and locking mechanisms;
- requirements to prohibit small parts, sharp points and edges;
- requirements for wood parts, to prevent splinters;
- requirements to prevent scissoring, shearing, and pinching;
- entrapment testing for accessible holes and openings;
- torque/tension testing for graspable components;
- a requirement that warning labels be permanent; and
- requirements for toy accessories to meet ASTM F963 Toy Safety standard requirements for instructional literature.
Hand-held infant carriers are subject to requirements for surface coatings, lead and (in certain circumstances) phthalate content, testing and certification, registration cards, and tracking labels. These requirements are discussed below and at: www.cpsc.gov/BusinessEducation:
- Surface Coating Limit: Hand-held infant carriers must not be painted with paint that contains more than 90 ppm (0.009 percent) lead.
- Lead Content Limit: Hand-held infant carriers must not contain greater than 100 ppm (0.01 percent) of total lead content in any accessible component part.
- Phthalate Content Limits: Hand-held infant carriers that contain plasticized parts that are designed, marketed, or intended to facilitate sleep or have plasticized components that are designed, marketed, or intended to facilitate eating, 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: Hand-held infant carriers, like all products that are designed or intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger, must be tested by a CPSC-accepted, third party laboratory for compliance with the hand-held infant carrier standard and all other applicable children's product safety rules. Based on that testing, a domestic manufacturer (or importer) of hand-held infant carriers 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 hand-held infant carriers, 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.