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If you know anything about packaging products, you will know that there are many different types of packaging available on the market. It depends on what is inside the package as to how they are packed up. For example, if there is something dangerous inside the package, then it needs to be done in such a way that can prevent children from getting inside, and thus child-resistant packaging was born. If you don’t know much about what this is, don’t worry because you’re likely not alone. In this article, we’re going to be taking a look at what child-resistant packaging is, some of the advantages and disadvantages are, as well as some of the other information surrounding it. Keep reading down below if you would like to find out more.

girl with child resistant packaging


What Is Child Resistant Packaging?

Child-resistant packaging is packaging that is difficult for a child who is under around 4 years to open within a reasonable time. However, the packaging must not be difficult for adults to open, including people up to around seventy years. There are a number of ways that a company can achieve child resistance when it comes to its packaging depending on which type they need, reclosable child-resistant (multiple openings) or one-time child-resistant (non-reclosable).

A reclosable pack defined by the international standard BS EN ISO 8317:2004 is “ (A) package which, after it has been initially opened, is capable of being reclosed with a similar degree of security and is capable of being used a sufficient number of times to dispense the total contents without loss of security.” The fact that children that are under 52 months which is around 4 and a half years old are not able to perform two simultaneous actions are what most of these methods of child resistance are based on. For example, you often see the squeeze and turn, or push and turn method being used when it comes to household products and medicines. 

A non-reclosable child-resistant pack is defined by the European standard BS EN 14375:2003 as: “ (A) child-resistant package or part of a child-resistant package which, when all or part of the contents have been removed, cannot be properly closed again.” Some of the most common places that you will see things like this are for plasters, and other single-use household products. 

Designing child-resistant non-reclosable packaging isn’t as difficult as it might seem though. This is usually done using blister lidding with a paper peel or something similar. This is because children have soft fingernails, making it difficult for them to actually open this pack at all. If they were to ever get through, it would take them quite a while, by which point an adult should have seen what was going on.

What Are The Advantages Of Child Resistant Packaging?

The main benefit of child-resistant packaging is that it stops children from getting into things that they shouldn’t be able to access. Children are sneaky and inquisitive, meaning that they are going to go searching for new things all the time. As a parent, you are not going to be able to watch them 24/7, but companies offer a way to make sure that your children don’t get into things they shouldn’t be. For example, let’s say that your child gets into the medicine cabinet one day and grabs a bottle of aspirin, the last thing that you are going to want is for your child to be able to get into the bottle or the packaging, which is where child-resistant packaging is helpful. Like we mentioned above, most things like this require two simultaneous actions to open and small children won’t be able to do this.

As such, child-resistant packaging is responsible for saving the lives of many children. That is the biggest and most important advantage of this type of packaging and is the entire purpose of creating it in the first place. 

What Are The Disadvantages Of Child Resistant Packaging?

Of course, like everything else, child-resistant packaging also has its downsides. One of the problems that are commonly faced is that some elderly people and those with certain disabilities like arthritis will struggle with this type of packaging. This is a huge issue if the person struggling lives on their own. There are a lot of tests performed before packaging can be produced to ensure that most adults won’t have an issue using it, however, a package will pass lab testing as long as 90% of adults are able to perform the tasks – meaning up to 10% of adults may not be able to.

There are some exceptions though. In some cases, if there are no children on the premises, a pharmacist can choose to give medication in a non-child-resistant package to help the individual. 

How Long Has Child Resistant Packaging Been Around?

Child-resistant packaging has been around in the US since the CPSC introduced the PPPA of 1970 with Europe and the UK taking a little longer to be properly integrated as standard.  For example, even though the first lot of child-resistant packaging came to the UK in the 1970s, non-reclosable child-resistant packs only became standardized in 2001. This differs from the US where the US Consumer Product Safety Commission got the right to control and regulate child-resistant packaging via the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970. This happened in order to avoid children getting poisoned by getting into things like over-the-counter medications. 

Things are only getting better on this front as well, with child-resistant packaging improving all the time. It is one of the most common types of packaging to be checked regularly for open ability for children and adults.

How Can Packaging Be Certified?

There are four standards when it comes to child-resistant packaging. In order to be certified as child-resistant, the packaging must adhere to at least one of the following four:

  • BS EN ISO 8317:2004 an international standard that covers reclosable packaging for any contents.
  • BS EN 14375:2003 a European standard that covers non-reclosable packaging for medicines.
  • BS EN 862:2005 a European standard that covers non-reclosable packaging for non-medicines.
  • 16 CFR 1700.20 an American regulation that covers both reclosable and non-reclosable packaging for both medicines and non-medicines. This regulation is mandatory in the United States and has been adopted by a number of other countries.

These standards are all quite similar. It is the finer details that are a little different. They all need to have gone through two sets of tests though, a child test and an adult test. For the child test, there must be a sample size of up to 200 children that are between 42 and 51 months. This means the age range for these tests is between three and a half to four and a quarter. The child is given the pack and given five minutes to try and open it. If after five minutes they have not worked out how to do so, they are shown silently how to open it, and then given another five minutes to try. In order for a package to pass the test, 85% of the children must fail to open it before the demonstration, with 80% continuing to fail afterward.

The adult test requires a group of up to 100 adults aged 50-70. After a period in which they look and work out what to do, 90% of the group need to be able to open and then correctly reclose the package in one minute, or be able to take a single unit out in a minute depending on what the pack is for.

How Can Companies Create This Type Of Packaging?

Aside from using the methods that require two simultaneous movements for reclosable packs, there are a few things that companies can think about when it comes to this type of packaging. The first is that children love shapes, bright colors, and anything shiny. As such, you want to avoid these kinds of visual cues as much as possible. Instead of enticing them to come and open the product, you want it to be unappealing. You will also find that some packages have pictures on them that show you how to open them – don’t do this. Instead, use words.

Companies can also simply increase the size of the package. Make sure that it is designed for adult hands so that children have a harder time opening the product. Try to remember that the smaller something is, the easier it is for kids to get it.

We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now have a better understanding of what child-resistant packaging is, and why it’s so important. While at first glance it might not seem as though it’s something very important, it saves a lot of little lives every year. With each life saved, it affirms the belief that there is a need for this on the market, and that is why child-resistant packaging will continue to be produced.