According Consumer Reports, at least 50 infants are known to have died in infant inclined sleepers like the Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play Sleeper. Though Fisher-Price has recalled their sleepers, several brands whose products pose the same risks remain on the market.
Infant inclined sleepers are designed to have babies sleep at a 10 to 30 degree incline. These restrict airways and increase the likelihood of suffocation. This information is according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), says CR.
For infants, sleeping at an incline runs counter to recommendations from the AAP, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau. All of which agree— infants should be put on their backs to sleep, “unrestrained, and on a firm, flat surface free of bumpers and other soft bedding,” says the CR report.
So far, seven families have filed a joint lawsuit against Fisher-Price, alleging the deaths of their infants occurred while in the Rock ‘N Play Sleeper.
Safety concerns associated with inclined sleepers have been in the public arena for years. The Nap Nanny, was linked to six deaths going back to 2010. That product was recalled in 2013 and is no longer for sale.
Despite the recent spate of deaths linked to inclined sleepers, several manufacturers still sell them, including Baby Delight, Evenflo, and Hiccapop. To date, action has not been taken against the makers of these products by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the government agency responsible for protecting the public from product-related illness and injury.
Ben Hoffman, M.D., Chairperson of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention’s executive committee, said at a recent CPSC hearing: “CPSC sends parents a dangerous message by allowing other inclined sleep products to remain on the market.” Further, the agency should “eliminate this product category altogether so these deadly products are no longer available.”
When asked by CR if it has any advice on whether babies should sleep in these products, CPSC declined to comment.
Don Huber, Director of Product Safety at CR notes that when Fisher-Price introduced inclined sleepers 10 years ago, they did not have to provide evidence that the products were safe for sleep. He claims that there is more proof needed to remove a product where there are known injuries versus introducing one that could potentially be hazardous.
“Why is there a greater burden to provide data to remove a hazard than to introduce one?”
Members of Congress are not waiting for CPSC to act and are introducing legislation to stop the sale of the deadly sleepers. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a House bill that prohibits manufacturers from making, importing and selling infant inclined sleep products. The Senate bill prevents the CPSC from “signing off on any infant sleep products that are not ‘consistent with safe sleep best practices,'” according to the CR report.
Congressman Cárdenas said, earlier this month, that he introduced the bill because “companies decided making money was more important than the lives of innocent babies.”
He said it was critically important he take a stand “because the regulatory agency charged with protecting Americans decided to be puppets for industry and stood by as more precious lives were lost.” On a human level, he found the news of infants dying to be a jarring aspect.
“As a grandparent, it’s just appalling.”
The risk of inclined sleepers to infants only became widely known after CR reported on the large number of deaths linked the Fisher-Price sleeper. However, Fisher-Price and the CPSC knew of the risks associated with it and of the deaths well beforehand according CPSC data and information provided in the lawsuit filings. Furthermore, Fisher-Price failed to sufficiently test the product’s safety before placing it on the market.
Inclined Products CR Recommends Not to Use for Infant Sleep
Here is a list of products CR says “have an incline above 10 degrees and are marketed for sleep are also marketed as rockers, bouncers, or swings.” Their safety experts have determined that they are safe to use “when your child is awake but that you should monitor your baby closely and transfer him or her to a firm, flat surface, such as a crib or bassinet, as soon as your baby falls asleep.”
- Nuna Leaf Grow Bouncer
- Graco Duet Glide LX Gliding Swing
- Graco DreamGlider Gliding Seat & Sleeper
- Tiny Love 3-in-1 Rocker Napper and Tiny Love Cozy Rocker
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About the Author: Aisha K. Staggers is a writer, lecturer, political analyst and literary agent. She appears weekly for “Staggers’ State of Things” on the Dr. Vibe Show. Her work has been published by Paper Magazine, AfroPunk, The Spool, GREY Journal, MTV News, HuffPost, Blavity, Atlanta Blackstar, For Harriet, New York Review of Books and a host of other first-run publications and syndicated outlets. Find her on Twitter @AishaStaggers. For more of her work, check out her page here!