The Importance Of Child-Resistant Packaging

Hundreds of children are treated in the emergency room for accidental poisoning every single day in the United States. To combat such frequent occurrences, manufacturers are required by law to securely enclose certain products in child-resistant, or C-R, packaging. 

Below is a brief look into the guidelines surrounding C-R packaging as well as a few ways it might be improved upon.

What Is Child-Resistant Packaging?

A child-resistant package is one that has been carefully designed and fortified to secure its contents. The aim is to prevent children under five from accessing what’s inside for a reasonable amount of time and, therefore, prevent them from being poisoned. C-R packaging is required by the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA) for various products deemed to be hazardous. 

Additionally, the package must be constructed so as not to be difficult for adults to open properly. To fall within these parameters, the package is tested by both age groups before being released into the market. 

While there are numerous stipulations involved, testing essentially calls for 80% of the children being tested to fail at opening the package during a full ten-minute assessment. For adults, 90% need to be able to open and close the package – making it child-resistant again – in under five minutes.

When Is Child-Resistant Packaging Required?

While not a complete list, the substances, and products requiring C-R packaging include:

  • Acetaminophen, aspirin and ibuprofen
  • Cannabis and nicotine products
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Lawn and garden chemicals
  • Mouthwash
  • Nutraceuticals (supplements and vitamins)
  • OTC switch drugs and other common pharmaceuticals
  • Phytomedicine (herbal medicine)

Ways to Improve Child-Resistant Packaging

Modifying a package so that it keeps prying little fingers out is a challenge many have taken on over the years. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution yet, there have been several improvements in packaging design as a result of repeated trials.

One recommended approach is to avoid shapes, colors, and other visual aids which instruct the user on opening the package. Although it seems appropriate to help those who the product is intended for, kids are naturally drawn to these visual cues. Instead, it’s advised to use text instructions or visual cues that are typically unrecognizable to toddlers.

Another approach is to develop a single-dose format. Often, pharmaceuticals are packaged in bottles with twist-off caps which provide access to all the contents once opened. With these new designs, one or two pills are released from a specific unit of the container with a press of the thumb or applied pressure. Requiring such applied force is a great way to make the packaging for any type of product more inaccessible. 

By combining sturdiness with the need for fine motor skills, companies could create a package more effective in keeping kids out. If the resources are lacking to design, manufacture and test as needed, companies can utilize packaging automation services. These may help an organization meet compliancy standards and minimize costs while protecting the brand.

For further information on the importance of C-R packaging and additional improvement methods, please see the accompanying resource.

Infographic created by MGS Machine Corporation

Brian Farrell is a coach, helping clients achieve their personal and professional goals. He's also the creator of the "QA2 Method". For more about Brian, visit