CPSC Approves New Safety Standard for Infant Bath Seats

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has approved a new federal safety standard for infant bath seats, the first mandatory standard issued as required by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

The new requirements enhance the current voluntary standards by adding stricter stability requirements to prevent the bath seat from tipping over, tighter leg openings to prevent children from slipping through, and a larger warning label for parents. It also includes provisions such as requiring a latching and locking mechanism a compliance with the CPSC’s standards for sharp points and edges, small parts, and lead in paint.

Infant bath seats are used in a sink or tub to provide support to a seated infant 5 to 10 months old during bathing. However, there is an increasing rate of infant drowning related to their use. From 1983 through November 2009, there were 174 reported deaths involving bath seats and 300 reported non-fatal bath seat incidents. In 90% of cases, lack of parental supervision was involved. A study previously published in Pediatrics found that parents are more likely to leave their children unattended in the bath if they are in a bath seat.

Other safety concerns involve the suction cups on the bottom of the seats, which can slip and cause a baby to tip over. Babies can also slip between the legs of the seat and become trapped under water.

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Young children can drown quickly, even in small amounts of water. While an infant seat is helpful for parents during bathing, it is not considered a safety device. Never leave a child more than an arm’s length away, even for a moment, near any water.

Here are more bathing safety tips for your baby:
• Keep all bathing materials within easy reach. A plastic handled carry-all is a great way to keep baby’s shampoo, soap, and wash cloth.
• Be sure the bottom of the tub is clean and free of soap residue.
• If using a bath seat, be sure it is placed out of baby’s reach to the faucets or spout. Do not use the seat on textured or non-skid surfaces unless the manufacturer’s instructions state that the seat is intended for such surfaces.
• Always test the temperature of the water before putting baby in the tub.
• After bathing, lift the child out of the seat first. Do not lift baby up with the seat in place.
• Inspect the bath seat often. If the suction cups do not adhere to the bottom of the top, if the locking mechanism is not working properly, or if there are cracks, discontinue use immediately.

The final rule on infant bath seats goes into effect six months after publication in the Federal Register. Bath seats manufactured or imported on or after that date will be required to meet the new mandatory standard.

CPSC staff is working to develop federal standards for nearly 20 other durable juvenile products, including bassinets, cribs, and infant walkers.

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