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How to create a robust compliance plan for baby carriers

This post discusses how to create a compliance plan for baby carriers, wraps, and slings for manufacturers and importers. There is a customizable sample plan template linked at the end of the article.

Baby carrier compliance plans can vary significantly depending on the type of baby carrier and the country where it’s being sold. However, this guide should help you create a comprehensive product compliance plan no matter what products your company sells or which company you’re selling into.

Where to start when creating a compliance plan for baby carriers

The first step in creating your product compliance plan is determining the purpose of the plan. Why are you creating a compliance plan? You can write a beautiful product compliance mission statement or you can keep it simple, but it’s always a good thing to define your goals before creating any policy or procedural document.

Here’s an example of a compliance plan purpose statement from HNL Lab Medicine:

The Plan focuses on the detection and prevention of violations of federal, state and local laws and encourages employees and others to ask questions and report concerns about behaviors or business practices that may violate laws, regulations or HNL policies.

HNL Lab Medicine Compliance Plan

Even if it seems obvious — “Kristi, my goal is just to comply with the requirements!” — take a moment to consider your main goals of creating a compliance plan. Who is protected by a compliance plan for baby carriers? Just babies? Their caregivers? Your business? Your retailers? What are you trying to achieve? Enhanced product safety? Protection from liability? Opening accounts with retail stores?

Additionally, you should answer the question of responsibility. Even the most robust plan needs a person to ensure all the steps happen. You need to define not only who is responsible for overseeing the plan, but how you’ll ensure continued oversight and execution of the plan.

Lastly, determine the scope of this compliance plan. You may wish to have one document that outlines all the legal and regulatory obligations your company has — for instance, product testing, instruction booklets, and export laws. You may prefer to focus exclusively on a single aspect of compliance in this document. You may even prefer to have one big document detailing not only baby carrier compliance but also rules about local business registration, employment law, etc.

What regulations and laws govern baby carriers in my region?

This article focuses on creating a compliance plan for baby carriers. However, you can easily apply these guidelines to any other aspect of compliance your company needs to address.

Your product compliance plan may cover:

  • Creating and selling baby slings, wraps, or carriers in the country where you live and work
  • Importing slings, wraps, or carriers from other country, whether they are manufactured for you or by another company
  • Exporting baby carriers to another country other than the one where you live and work
  • A combination of these

Start by checking out the BCIA’s checklists and information sheets for product compliance in a variety of countries. If you don’t see the information you’re looking for, there are a few ways you can find out what you need to know:

  • Contact your country’s chamber of commerce, international trade bureau, or similar
  • Contact the chamber of commerce, international trade bureau, or similar in the country you’re exporting to or importing from
  • Contact the testing lab you intend to test with (BCIA offers testing discounts for members at select labs)
  • Request assistance from other BCIA members in the members-only Facebook group
  • Hire a compliance attorney
  • Reach out to the BCIA director by email if you’re unable to reach the right agency or organization
  • Google mercilessly

Watch this video from the US International Trade Aministration for an overview of the broad range of things to consider when trading internationally. There are not only product compliance rules, but there may also be rules about what countries you can sell to or receive from, restrictions on certain products, and a variety of other things that will vary from country to country.

Consider a risk assessment

A risk assessment is when you consider the risks of not complying with the rules and regulations you identified above. For example, you can be fined up to $100,000 USD for violating the CPSIA, although it is unlikely that you would be fined the maximum amount, especially for a first offense.

This can help you assess your company’s risk tolerance as you craft a compliance plan, especially if you sell a baby carrier product that has multiple configurations.

Create a quality assurance plan for your products

A compliance plan for baby carriers, slings, wraps, etc. usually involves testing a sample carrier. It’s important that each product sample represents that model of baby carrier accurately.

Without a quality assurance plan, there’s no way to confidently guarantee that the products you sell are materially similar. This plan ensures that when you sell three baby carriers with the same model number, they are not sewn using three different stitch lengths or techniques, woven with differing thread counts, or cut in three different sizes.

Knowing what the specifications are for each aspect of your product ensures uniformity in your labels, sewing techniques, product construction, etc.

Having a plan to inspect each batch of carriers to verify that your specifications have been followed means you are less likely to be surprised by a manufacturer who is inconsistent with manufacturing techniques.

Compliance testing for your baby carrier

Many people consider this section to be the meat of any compliance plan for baby carriers. Look at all the rules and standards you listed above, and determine which of them requires product testing. Not all standards will require testing. For instance, there may be a regulation that requires plastic bags of a certain size and thickness be marked with a warning, but it might not require testing.

Once you determine which rules require testing, you’ll need to plan how to do the testing and where it will be done. The section of your baby carrier compliance plan should cover:

  • A written explanation of how you make decisions about which products to test and how often to test them
  • How to choose your products for testing
  • A list of tests your product needs or a list of official standards you’ll test to
  • Which lab or labs you’ll use for the test(s)
  • Any extra tests you might choose. For instance, you might the tear and burst strength of fabrics in all colors to determine which has the lowest strength in order to determine which colorway to send for testing.
  • How you’ll evaluate the test results
  • What happens if your baby carrier fails product testing

Documentation and recordkeeping

This section should be straightfoward. What documentation will you keep to show your products are compliant? Will you create product certificates? Where and how will you store test results, and for how long? Who’s responsible for maintaining the records?

Optional: Training and Communication

Depending on the size of your organization, you may need to include training and communication in your compliance plan for baby carriers. This plan might involve training employees on the procedures outlines in this document, communicating with retail stores or customers, or any number of other communications and training.

Annual review and other dates and deadlines

It’s important to review and update your compliance plan regularly. We have an entire article dedicated to an annual compliance plan review.

You should also lay out the dates and deadlines for recurring or periodic parts of this testing plan. What is the timeline for creating required product certificates, or for completing QA inspections, etc? When will the annual review take place?

Does your business need a compliance plan for baby carriers or other products?

We’ve created a Google docs starter template for members.

If you’d like to use our starter template, you can open it by following this link.

The file is hosted on Google drive. To use it, simply create a copy and rename it. You can edit directly in Google drive or download it to edit in the word processor of your choice. If you use it please send feedback or comment on this post to let us know how it works for you!

A smiling woman carries a doll in a ring sling and reaches for the hands of a small child

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