The Wall Street Journal recently reported (Friday, Nov. 23, 2018) that the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play inclined sleeper has caused at least 30 infant deaths and more than 700 injuries since 2005 because of the angle of the baby’s head when napping. The newspaper reported that more than half of those 30 deaths – 16 – occurred since September, 2016.
Although the padded inclined sleeper product has helped parents with babies who may be fussy in going to sleep, complaints have arose that indicate that the design of the inclined sleeper can lead to an infant suffocating, particularly when the baby rolls over or is caught between the padding and the side of the product.
To date, the CPSC has issued some educational warnings on the proper use of the product, but a recall has not yet occurred, despite the deaths and hundreds of injuries. Nor has the company voluntarily issued a recall. The American Academy of Pediatricians and consumer advocacy groups are reported to have warned the government agency and the manufacturer of the product that it is the angle of the sleeper itself that is at issue. Adding restraints or straps to a product could only serve to strangle a helpless infant, experts warn.
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakkowsky (D-IL), the ranking Democratic member on the House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Products, said earlier this year that the CPSC needs to get tougher. The Wall Street Journal reported that she wrote in a letter to CPSC Acting Chairwoman Ann Marie Burkle, “I am concerned that your agency is not adequately protecting consumers from hazards posed by included sleep products. I urge you to more aggressively review whether these products are safe.”
Although Mattel’s popular inclined sleeper product touts itself as helping a baby to sleep and is marketed as safe, consumer groups have pointed out that the rocking device can encourage bad sleep habits, may create flat heads in infants who are in it too long and may even cause death. Padding can shift, allowing an infant to get caught between the padding and the side of the sleeper, yet Fisher-Price continues to tout this sleeper for overnight sleeping without supervision. Some parents have voiced concerns that the marketing of this device has lulled parents into believing that it is safe.
Canada has banned infant sleepers with more than a seven-degree angle. This device, and others like it in America, have a 30-degree angle built in to the inclined sleepers.
The issue also has caused many consumers to question how and when the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) should act when it receives numerous reports on a product that has dangers that can lead to innocent deaths.
In response to inquiries by concerned parents, Clifford Law Offices is currently monitoring the ongoing developments regarding the safety and regulation of this product.
If your loved one has been injured in a device like this, please feel free to contact the lawyers at Clifford Law Offices who can inform you of your rights and what next steps you need to take. 1-800-899-0410 or 1-312-899-9090.