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Fire Resistant Pajamas and Sleepwear: are they safe?

May 2, 2011

I have always wondered if fire resistant pajamas were toxic. Both Birch and Willow have a lot of hand-me-down pajamas that are all fire resistant. To be honest, I have been slow in researching this because it is so convenient to have all these second-hand pjs. But, I bit the bullet. After all, free pjs aren’t free if they are toxic.

First, a quick history:
In 1971, the Consumers Safety Product Commission adopted a rule that children’s pajamas that were submitted to an open flame must self-extinguish in 3 seconds. A lot of manufacturers then wove flame retardant materials into the pajamas. In 1997, the CPSC changed the ruling slightly by allowing for “snug fitting” pajamas that weren’t flame resistant and permitting untreated sleepwear for infants  (0-9 months).

The lowdown:
The following from The Daily Green was widely restated all over the internet.

The Daily Green :
“Some clothing companies produce cotton flame retardant pajamas by adding something called PROBAN (from the chemical tetrakis hydromethyl phosphonium chlorida, or THPC) to the fabric or garment in the finishing stages. The flame retardant is trapped in the fiber, but the cotton still feels soft. If flame touches PROBAN treated cotton it extinguishes quickly, but there’s plenty to worry about. The THPC has been linked to genetic abnormalities and damage to the liver, skin and nervous system. It also promotes the growth of cancerous tumors.” YIKES! The Green Guide does say this though:”Is fire-retardant sleepwear toxic? Most likely not, but it might be uncomfortable because synthetic. ” That seems like strange advice considering their research.

Result for me:
Okay, I am going to switch to all organic cotton then.

Where to find organic pjs?
I did buy 2 pairs of “snug fitting” organic pajamas for Birch a few months ago. My favorite is New Jammies. They are 100% organic cotton, designed by a mom and are available in long johns or shorties.  Her fun collection includes nature’s critters (we have the owls and stars) and fruits and veggies to promote a LOVE for carrots, peas and more. Great idea. What I like best about these is that they do stay “snug fitting” through repeated washes.  The arm cuffs are a little tight for Birch when they first go on, but otherwise the fit is perfect. Prices for New Jammies run from $28 to $35.

New Jammies Owls pattern

The other option I chose were Hannah Anderson’s organic cotton long johns. These are more expensive at $39.50, but I got a prison stripe black pair on sale for $20. Hannah Anderson has sales all the time- so do try and buy on sale times. The fabric is lovely: super soft and thick but gets floppy after a couple of nights wear.  The cuffs are made of great stretchy fabric that fits snugly. Hannah Anderson’s pjs are warmer than New Jammies- so I use these for colder nights.

Hannah Anderson’s stripes

How about sleep sacs?
My last nod to sleepwear is for Willow. It is the most fabulous sleep sac from PurFlo (a British company).  It is 100% cotton outside, and super silky Bamboo inside!   The filling is a fiber that supposedly reduces the amount of dust mites that take up residence.  The best part to me is that they have zip-off arms and anti-scratch mitts that keep her hands warm.  The different sizes can fit a child up to 3 years.  (By the way, you have to check out PurFlos organic mattresses– they are unlike any you have ever seen- they are completely washable mesh!)  You do have to order it from Britain though- and, yes, the price is steep. The price is 34.96 pounds. But sooo worth it.

PurFlo Sleep Sac

The other sleep sac that I covet, but never tried was Woolly Boo’s wool sleep sacs.  Wool is naturally flame retardant and is also anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic (since wool resists mold and mildew). The ticking is 100% cotton, so you know the whole thing is safe for your baby. These are much more expensive than the PurFlos at $150- but they sure are luxurious. You have to touch one to believe me! I am eyeing one of their Toddler Pillows for $50.

Woolly Boo’s sleep sacs

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