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I didn’t know a play yard can be toxic at the time I bought a play yard for my baby. A Play yard is a baby product so I assumed the product is safe for a baby. However, as you research non toxic products, you will be surprised to find that many baby products use toxic chemicals and materials. A play yard is one of them. Play yard contains flame retardant chemicals which can be very toxic and harmful for babies. According to survey 2016 done by Center for Environmental Health, play yards by Fisher Price had flame retardant chemicals. CEH’s report also informed that some companies still use flame retardant chemicals and some may use them but do not disclose that they use them. Not all play yards are safe. In this post, I share with you how play yard can be toxic and what non toxic play yard is available.
How Play Yard Materials Can Be Toxic
A play yard (or playyard, playpen, pack n play, travel crib) is very convenient baby item to have. My baby used it every day. For something that a baby uses every day, it is important to find out if it is safe. Unfortunately, just like so many baby products such as car seats, strollers, baby carriers, crib mattresses, play yards also contain flame retardant chemicals. Flame retardant chemicals are chemicals that are put into the materials to prevent fires from starting or slows the spread of fire. Flame retardant chemicals are used in furnitures such as sofas or mattresses and baby products such as car seats or play yards. Brominated, chlorinated and phosphate-based chemicals are commonly used chemicals in flame retardants. Brominated and chlorinated-based chemicals, also called halogenated flame retardants are very harmful to our health. They include chemicals such as HBCD, TBC, UBC, TCPP and TDCPP. They are known to be carcinogens, hormone disruptors and developmental toxicants. Flame retardant chemicals have been criticized for toxic risks they carry while not being so effective in saving people. While the flame retardant chemicals may be slowing the spread of flames, when fires do occur, they produce deadly toxic gas that could kill more people.
Many children’s products containing foam were required to meet government flammability standard for many years in the past. In order for manufacturers to pass the flammability test, toxic flame retardant chemicals were used. Many play yards contain a mattress that is made of polyurethane foam. This mattress is usually a thin layer of polyurethane foam enclosed within the fabric. Polyurethane foam is made of petroleum so it is highly flammable. Therefore, flame retardant chemicals were used by manufacturers to pass the government flammability test.
However, as of Jan. 1, 2014, 15 baby products were exempted from having to meet flammability standards. Therefore, manufacturers don’t have to use harmful flame retardant chemicals on these products. This doesn’t mean flame retardant chemicals are prohibited to use. Companies can still use flame retardant chemicals if they choose to. According to Center For Environmental Health, some companies still use flame retardant chemicals in their baby products including play yard. Therefore, it would be a good idea to check if the play yard of your choice uses flame retardant chemicals.
How Flame Retardant Chemicals Can Reach Babies
I didn’t know about flame retardant chemicals when I purchased a play yard. I just purchased Ingenuity Smart and Simple Play Yard because I could take off the fabrics and machine wash them. After getting the play yard, I had it placed in the living room when my baby was born. She slept the most of the day in the beginning, also woke up every 1.5 hrs to 2 hrs to feed. Therefore, I put her in the play yard for some naps during the day so that I can also hang out in the living room. For some reason, my daughter slept so well on the play yard during the day. As she grew bigger, the play yard was a perfect, safe place for me to have her hang out while I had to go bathroom or do something for short time. We even took the play yard when we went on a trip. You can transform anywhere you go into a safe sleep spot for your baby with a play yard. When my daughter could walk, she wanted to go in there from time to time to play. I guess because we didn’t put her in there since she could walk, she sometimes just wanted to go in there for fun. We loved using a play yard.
So how can flame retardant chemicals reach babies? Toxic flame retardant chemicals find their way out of the play yard and settle into the air like a dust. A baby can breathe in the chemicals or touch the chemicals on play yard or other furniture which can end up in their mouth. That means when my daughter was playing in the play yard and in the living room around the play yard, she could have touched the flame retardant chemicals on the furniture or floor and put her hands in her mouth. She could have breathe flame retardant chemicals in the air. Luckily, I have confirmed with Ingenuity that their play yards don’t use flame retardant chemicals. However, if the play yard had flame retardant chemicals, my daughter would have been exposed to the toxic chemical easily.
Non Toxic Play Yards
So what are non toxic play yards that contain no flame retardant chemicals? Let’s take a look!
Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard – Non Toxic Play Yard
Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Play yard is ultra portable and light weight at 13 lbs. It is very easy to set up. It fits as a carry-on and also you can carry it as a backpack. This play yard has a fun side access door so that baby can crawl in & out and also you don’t have to lean over to put baby in the play yard. The Lotus is the only travel crib and play yard on the market with GreenGuard™ Gold safety certification. GreenGuard thoroughly tests for chemical emissions in order to guarantee a product is safe for use by babies and toddlers. Lotus Play Yard doesn’t use any flame retardant chemicals and meets all all required flammability standards without the need for chemical flame retardants. The mattress is made from flame-retardant free polyurethane foam. There is also no PVC, Lead, Phthalates, Formaldehyde, Heavy Metals (Cadmium, Arsenic, Mercury, etc.) and many others.
Babybjorn Playpen – Non Toxic Play Yard
Baby Bjorn Play Pen and Travel Crib is very easy to set up. You can set it up at one simple movement and there are no loose parts to attach. It’s just as effortless to fold down and pop back into the carry bag. It is also super light at 13 lbs. You can easily carry it with you wherever you go. The mattress is made from flame-retardant free polyurethane foam. Baby Bjorn Play Yard has breathable mesh on the side. The fabric is easy to remove and is machine washable. Baby Bjorn Play Yard is a JPMA Certified Product. JPMA certification seal means that a baby product has been tested by an independent facility and met the guidelines set by standards developer ASTM International. Baby Bjorn Play Yard is also Oeko-Tex Certified. When fabric is Oeko-Tex Certified, fabric has been tested and certified to be free from more than 100 substances known to be harmful to human health. Therefore, Baby Bjorn Play Yard Materials do not contain any harmful or allergenic substances.
Nuna Sena Air Travel Crib – Non Toxic Play Yard
Nuna Sena Air Travel Crib‘s zigzag leg design pops open easily and then refolds with just one hand. It is designed to create the advanced air design, allowing air flow from every angle. You can also easily remove mattress panels for machine washing. Most importantly, there is no flame retardant chemicals in the play yard. All fabrics used are free of chemicals and other hazardous materials that could be harmful to a baby. Nuna Sena Air Travel Crib is also Greenguard Gold certified. It has polyurethane foam on the inner fill of the bassinet attachment lining. (This does not come in contact with the child.) This play yard is heavier than Lotus Play Yard or Baby Bjorn Play Yard.
A play yard is a very convenient baby item to have. It can be used on a daily basis. However, it contains flame retardant chemicals, therefore, you may want to check whether a play yard contain flame retardant chemicals or not before you purchase it. Flame retardant chemicals are very harmful to babies. It can cause cancer, disrupt hormones and have negative effect on development. Flame retardant chemicals are normally contained in the polyurethane mattress. They can come out of the mattress and stay in furniture or floor where baby can easily be exposed to touch. Baby can also breathe flame retardant chemicals in the air. There are play yards that do not contain flame retardant chemicals and have better fabric options. Lotus, Nuna Sena Air play yard and Baby Bjorn play yard has flame-retardant free polyurethane foam. Baby Bjorn’s fabric is Oeko-Tex certified. Nuna Sena Air play yard is Greenguard Gold certified. My favorite is Baby Bjorn and Lotus. Play yard is something you use daily and your baby stays right on top of the play yard’s mattress and fabric. Any of these non toxic play yards will be a good choice because there should be no place for toxic flame retardant chemicals anywhere in your baby’s life.
If you are interested in non toxic cribs, please read my post, ‘Non Toxic Crib Buying Guide – Buying A Truly Non Toxic Crib‘.
-Also, you can check out my other post ‘‘Best Organic Crib Mattresses Buying Guide‘!
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