Are baby hats with tie-strings safe?
July 7, 2011 10:43 PM   Subscribe

Are baby hats with tie-strings OK, safety-wise, or are they a strangulation hazard?

I'm knitting a hat like this and I was wondering why the type of bonnet/hat attached with tie-strings is not considered a strangulation hazard? It looks unsafe to me, but on Google I couldn't find anything on it actually being dangerous. And as you know with baby stuff, you find warnings about all kinds of things if they are even remotely dangerous...

The specific type of fastening I mean is: one short strap/string on each side of the hat, to be tied under the baby's chin in a classic bow. Strings are about 5-8 inches long. This is for infants under 1 year of age.

There are numerous hats with this type of tie fastening on Amazon (example). So they are not commonly considered unsafe, apparently?
And I guess if it really were dangerous there would have been some recalls - but I found nothing of that sort. (Btw, the only baby hat recall I found was for this nightmarish device...)

What do you think, Mefites? Can I use the standard tie-string design for my knitted baby hat or do I need to find something different?
posted by The Toad to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've seen recalls on older children's hoodies with strings because of strangulation hazards. Here's a random article from google. "The drawstrings on the hoodies were considered strangulation hazards because of their location close to the neck of the child wearing the item. In addition, the drawstrings were a violation of the federal guidelines for closing methods for upper garments. Buttons, elastic, Velco, or snaps are the only devices considered safe for use in kids’ sportswear for the upper body." I don't know why a hat would be safer than a hoodie. (Except a hoodie can't fall off and a hat can. But I can imagine a scenario in which the hat gets caught on something in a way that it doesn't get pulled off but is around the neck.)

I would have probably failed at getting toddler hats properly tied anyway. What about doing no strings with pom poms (the ones in the search that don't tie)? That seems safer, I think. And adorable.
posted by artychoke at 11:01 PM on July 7, 2011

I found a few hits in Google, but I also found some for crib sheet/bumper ties and the risk, so it sounds risky to me. I never bought my kids any hats that tied up - you generally only find them in handmade stuff at craft sales or as gifts anyway. Most people get the ties that velcro together, so they come undone at the slightest pull.

As a mom of young kids, I encourage you to modify the design so that it isn't a worry.
posted by acoutu at 11:11 PM on July 7, 2011

We had hats for our kids that had very short strings (3-5 in) with snaps to snap under their chins. If it's long enough to tie it in a bow, I'd avoid it.
posted by minx at 11:13 PM on July 7, 2011

Best answer: I've always understood that the general rule is that it's only safe if it comes apart with a force the child can exert (or certainly much less than the child's body weight) so a snap is safe, velcro is safe, a weak tie or strand of yarn is safe, nylon string all the way around the neck is not. How hard would you have to pull on the straps as designed to have them come off or open?
posted by crabintheocean at 11:40 PM on July 7, 2011

I wouldn't be overly concerned with it except for super young babies under 4 months old. Under 4 months old, I'd leave the ties out.

At 6 months, a baby is pretty capable of tearing a hat off its head.

I would suggest maybe making the ties shorter so they are not able to be tied into double knot. I made this one for my son, and the straps come down just to his chin length. They're more decorative than useful. He was also almost two when I made it.
posted by zizzle at 3:24 AM on July 8, 2011

Best answer: Mom of two-who-get-into-everything here, so I've had my antenna tuned for a few years. I remember 8" total being a magic number, but I can't find documentation on that (see link below to CPSC) There is a lot of discussion on Etsy about just this thing and if you've got the time you could drop in there somehow and read up.

If your intended recipient has an older sibling, I'd err on the safer side. As a parent, I would appreciate a hat that had either no ties or "ties" with velcro. Not even because OMG IT MIGHT GET CAUGHT IN AN ELEVATOR but simply because the way my kids play they get into everything (bushes, bicycle parts, sofa undersides, chopsticks) and will go for anything when they get into a tussle. For new parents who might be overwhelmed with safety "rules" it's also just one less thing to worry about. (My area of least concern would be for a lone newborn who kinda just lays there being admired and is not at all mobile or harassed by siblings or pets.)

The sun hats I just got my 2.5yo come with one tie attached by velcro where it meets the hat (for a "breakaway" function). This one of the same brand also has velcro where the ties meet in the center.

You can also read guidelines and requirements at the US Consumer Product Safety Commission's section on children's clothing. I haven't read them, and have heard they're not as clear as people would like, but there you go.
posted by cocoagirl at 4:10 AM on July 8, 2011

Best answer: Sorry I'm late, but I just saw this. I work as a toy tester and see this everyday. For children under 36 months, if it can form a 5" loop and takes more than 5lbf. to separate it will choke children. There are about 24 deaths last I saw from kids who get it trapped on something. This CPSC regulation actually bans children's hoodies with hood strings from sale due to the choking hazard. Anything to be sold commercially needs to meet the clothing standard. If I had someone knit my kid a nice hat, I wouldnjust cut the ties off. Way too many kids die because of them.
posted by Nackt at 6:20 PM on July 8, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks guys, very helpful. I think I'll try a design where there's just one strap, fastened on the other side with weak velcro. One could probably even include a "fake" (fixed) bow below the chin, so it would look just like the original design except it would be baby-safe (and no need to fiddle around with tying the bow!). I'll see how it works out.
posted by The Toad at 9:08 AM on July 9, 2011

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