It was 2009 when Fisher Price engineers first produced the company’s “Rock n’ Play,” an inclined infant sleeper intended to help parents lull their little ones to sleep. The Rock n’ Play was the first of its kind and became popular quite quickly – since being released, nearly 5 million have been sold.
Despite the Rock n’ Play’s popularity, Fisher Price failed to test it for infant sleeping safety. As a result, at least thirty-two babies died from turning over or being unrestrained while using it. The company is now facing product liability lawsuits and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is helping facilitate a nationwide recall in hopes of avoiding any more devastating infant injuries and deaths.
Although the Rock n’ Play was the first inclined infant sleeper to go to market, there are other ones out there – and they cause fatal injuries to children as well. Just months after a Consumer Report article implicated Fisher Price’s infant sleeper, another company’s (Kids II) rocking sleepers were recalled because of defects resulting in the death of five more children.
The cause of death for infants using the Kids II rocking sleepers was the exact same as those using the Rock n’ Play: suffocation or strangulation injuries sustained by rolling onto the stomach from the back because of being unrestrained.
Between the Rock n’ Play and Kids II’s rocking sleeper, there have been at least thirty-seven infant deaths altogether – and the sad and unacceptable truth is there will probably be more. Recalls are notoriously bad at getting each and every dangerous product out of consumer hands, and the Rock n’ Play recall is certainly no exception to the rule. The sleeper was recalled in April, but to this day the CPSC is still receiving reports of infant deaths connected to it.
Both Fisher Price and Kids II are complying with the CPSC’s recalls, but after the deaths of at least thirty-seven children is it not too little too late? Fisher Price sold millions of sleepers for $40 to $149, and Kids II sold almost 1 million for $40 to $80. If you would like to read the CPSC’s Rock n’ Play recall, please visit: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2019/Fisher-Price-Recalls-Rock-n-Play-Sleepers-Due-to-Reports-of-Deaths. To view the Kids II recall, click here: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2019/Kids-II-Recalls-All-Rocking-Sleepers-Due-to-Reports-of-Deaths/.
Inclined infant sleepers profess to give parents a break by keeping the child in a semi-inclined (usually around 30%) position on a rounded sleeper. But infant sleepers by design actually go against the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safe sleep recommendations for infants, which state that babies should always:
Inclined infant sleepers do not provide babies with flat (or overly firm) sleeping surfaces, they are typically used along with bedding, and children are usually left unrestrained in them.
Although the CPSC oversees product safety, removing an entire product type from the market takes a long time and is a complicated legal and technical process. Despite that, infant safety experts – like the chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention Executive Committee – as well as millions of concerned (and sometimes grieving) parents say that inclined infant sleepers should be eliminated from product categories altogether.
At the time being, the CPSC has promised to “investigate the category further” and discuss its findings in October 2019. But are children safe while other infant sleepers are still being sold? Although some of the inclined sleepers on the market have not been implicated in fatal injuries, the scope of the existing recalls (at least 5.3 million units between the two), the AAP’s safe-sleep recommendations, and the strong warnings from child safety advocates serve as major red flags.
Our firm will be sure to keep our readers updated on the CPSC’s findings and other important developments on the status of inclined infant sleepers.
If you were injured or became ill because of an unsafe or defective product, please contact the Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at Galfand Berger. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.