August 22, 2019
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Why would a product still be on the market when 32 infant deaths have been associated with it? That’s right, 32 infants have died while in the sleeper. The American Academy of Pediatrics called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to immediately recall the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. On April 5, the federal government and Fisher-Price issued a warning about the product in which the safety advocates said was not good enough. The design of the sleeper has too much padding according to medical experts and they state that infants should be placed on there backs free from insulation, padding and an incline to avoid suffocation. With sales at 4.5 billion on the popular product, a warning was placed on the product to stop using the product once an infant turns 3 months old (the age in which motor skills developing and mobility is more active in infants), but no recall was issued. This was is 2015 and no recall had been made after 10 deaths were reported. With no recall being issued, things escalated when reports of infant deaths were being made from babies younger than 3 months of age.

Unsupervised sleep is never a good idea with an infant in a car seat, stroller, swing, sling, wedge, or any other similar product. The AAP and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development have long counseled against letting infants sleep unsupervised in a reclined position. Dating back to 1994, the basic advice has always been that babies should sleep on a level, firm surface. As an associate adjunct professor of pediatrics at Emory University in Atlanta, Roy Benaroch, M.D., who has blogged about the safety risks of the Rock ’n Play Sleeper, told the Consumer Product Safety Commision that parents are confused by the product at a time when they are especially vulnerable.

“It’s tough because you don’t sleep, the baby is not sleeping, parents are exhausted, and they’re looking for a solution,” he said. But “parents are assuming a lot of risk by using this rather than following the safety guidelines.” Bottom line: “If you let your baby sleep in this thing, there’s an increased risk of death,” Benaroch said.

Around January 2011, Australian regulators, for example, wrote to Mattel, explaining why they did not think the item should be marketed as a sleep product. They stated that the sleeper, “is at odds with widely accepted and promoted best practices that these types of products should not be used as an infant bedding alternative”. It has never been sold in Australia. In Canada, the sleeper was not called that, it went from the term “sleeper” to “soother”.

It is very unfortunate for those loving parents who have suffered the loss of an infant. This wrongful death can be devastating and one does not forget an incident like that. So, what should parents do? The legislative director and general counsel of the Consumer Federation of America, Rachel Weintraub, stated, “In cases like these, where the product is on the market and there have been incidents associated with it, it’s very difficult to understand why the enforcement agency with jurisdiction over this product wouldn’t take action. When we know there are products that are posing risks and causing fatalities, that product in almost every case needs to be taken off the market.” The product should not be used for regular sleep and parents should be supervising light napping in a product that is inclined and designed like the Fisher-Price Sleeper.

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