The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend parents to place their infants in inclined baby sleepers. These sleepers place your child in a sleeping position that can be potentially fatal for young babies. The recommended sleeping position for infants by the AAP is on their back. They should be placed on a flat, separate, and firm sleeping surface that does not have any bedding or bumpers.
What the Fisher-Price and Kids II Rock ‘n Play Sleepers Offered Parents
The Fisher Rock ‘n Play Sleeper offered parents a sleep chair for their infants with calming vibrations and a rocking motion to help soothe their young babies. As an inclined sleeper, which doubled as a playtime seat, it came with an extra-deep seat along with a comfortable insert that was to help babies sleep through an entire night.
This rock ‘n sleep chair has calming vibrations that provide a soothing experience for babies. By giving the chair a gentle push, the sleeper would rock an infant to sleep. This chair was designed to easily assemble and was lightweight to carry anywhere and easy to store. Additional benefits with some of these chair types came with three-point restraints, machine washable seat pads, and some even had attached toys.
What Danger did the Rock ‘n Play Sleepers Pose to Infants?
Since these products have been introduced to the market, there have been multiple infant deaths linked to the Kids II Rocking Sleeper. These deaths occurred after the babies rolled onto their stomachs due to not being restrained in a back position.
The Kids II Sleeper models made from March of 2012 through April of 2019 have been recalled. The recall included the Bright Starts Playtime to Bed Rocking Sleepers as well as the Moonlight Rocking Sleeper. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend that parents allow their babies to sleep in a product that requires restraints.
The Fisher and Kids II Rock ‘n Play Sleepers are inclined sleepers, which do not align with safe sleep guidelines. These guidelines state that infants should be put on their backs to go to sleep. These sleepers and other similar models increase the risk of strangulation and suffocation. The chairperson of AAP's Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention states there is no such thing as an inclined sleep product that would be considered safe for babies to sleep in. He further noted that all inclined sleepers should be removed from the market.
Fisher-Price recalled their Rock ‘n Play Sleeper in April of 2019. This product has been linked to more than thirty infant deaths since it was released to the market in 2009. For years, Fisher-Price insisted their product was safe for babies and that it met all safety standards. They stated that caregivers and parents only needed to follow the instructions and product warnings to ensure their baby’s safety.
Attorney for product liability, Alan Feldman says it is crucial for the manufacturers of baby and children's products to make sure their products are safe. They need to conduct a hazard analysis and design their products so the most vulnerable- our babies- are protected against senseless harm.
The baby sleepers do not conform with the recommended guidelines set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics. These guidelines state that babies need to be placed on their backs alone and free of any soft bedding. It further says that infants should not be placed at an incline to reduce the risks of accidental suffocation.
The baby sleepers are, unfortunately, a tragic example of a product manufacturer not living up to their responsibility. It demonstrates a reluctance to voluntarily recall a product even though they have become aware of numerous injuries.
There are a variety of design differences between the different products, but the end result is that they all provide an inclined sleep position for babies. These products are positioning babies in 10 to 30-degree angles, which can cause the infant's head to fall forward. When a baby’s head tilts enough to rest on their chest, it compresses the airway. Because an infant does not have the head control or neck strength to lift their head, they end up cutting off their air supply and suffocating.
Consumer Reports has requested the Consumer Product Safety Commission to get all of the inclined sleep products for infants off the market as well as out of people's homes. They are actively supporting legislation to ban the manufacturing, importing, and selling of any inclined sleeping product for babies.
It is the belief of CR, that if these steps are not taken to protect the infants, inclined sleepers will remain not only in stores but in people's homes as parents are largely unaware of the risks these sleepers pose.
Confusing Messages from the Manufacturers Regarding Defective Baby Sleepers
Fisher-Price and CPSC sent a joint alert message in April of 2019 to warn consumers that their Rock ‘n Play Sleepers had been linked to baby's deaths. However, the alert incorrectly told them the sleepers were safe for infants three months old and older as long as they were restrained while in the sleeper.
One week later, following the alert, they announced a recall of the products. The recall notice; however, did not emphasize how likely suffocation could occur if infants were strapped in the sleepers on their backs. These messages sent mixed messages to parents and caregivers and caused them to believe they could still use the sleeper safely.
Testimony of Parents Who Used the Baby Sleepers
Tiffany Sundelin, a parent who used the Rock ‘n Play, thought the sleeper was magic. Her heart dropped when she read the accounts on how dangerous this product was to babies as she had used one for her fifth child. Her child survived this dangerous product and is now two years old. She states she would never have considered using it had she known the risks.
Sundelin bought the sleeper with no idea of its dangers as it was marketed as a safe sleep space for both nighttime and napping for infants. She further thought it was a good idea as she remembered the nurses in the hospital, putting her child's bassinet at an incline. She assumed this sleeping position was safe.
The Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome states there is a continuing problem with hospital staff placing things underneath an infant mattress to elevate their head. They do this for a number of reasons, including sleep apnea and reflux. Members of the task force explained that a baby should only be placed in an inclined position under specific medical conditions. When parents witness this position being used in the hospital setting, they think it is acceptable to use it in their home setting.
Another mother, Donna Podnos, used the sleeper for both of her sons. She, too, is horrified to think she had placed her babies in that kind of danger. Even though her experience with the product was positive, she would absolutely not have used the sleepers had she known she was putting her sons in danger, not even for their naps.
Alternative Sleep Tactics for Infants
There are other methods to use to help your baby sleep. Infants do not have much consolidated sleep for their first year of life. Parents should realize that it is normal for their newborn to wake up throughout the night. Parents who know this, know their baby is normal and healthy, and it is part of their development and growth. There are other sleep tactics to use for babies other than a baby sleeper:
- Many babies like to have the comfort of their parent's presence. By room-sharing for the first six to twelve months, you can provide that comfort by reaching out to touch and soothe your baby through a restless night. Place a free-standing bassinet or sidecar next to the bed, so your child has that feeling of you being nearby. It is not recommended for the bassinet to incline or rock.
- The APP suggests the use of swaddling your baby before placing them on their back to sleep. The sleeping surface should be firm and flat, and the swaddling will replicate their environment of the womb. Babies who are swaddled appear more relaxed and are able to sleep better. Once the child is about two months old, swaddling is not recommended as they begin to wiggle and move more at this age. Swaddling after two months can impede child development and become a hazard if they get tangled in the blanket.
- White noise in the baby's sleeping area can be reminiscent of the sounds your child heard while in the womb. A white noise machine can be helpful if kept at a low volume and placed in an area where the cord will not become a hazard.
- Pacifiers are also a good solution to calm a baby. The sucking reflex can be soothing for babies. Studies have shown that pacifiers are safe for babies and can reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
- Understanding that babies spit up, and it is not necessarily a medical issue can help relieve parents' anxiety. Babies should reflux, especially those being breastfed. The reflux or spit up coats the entire nasal and respiratory pathways with beneficial antibodies to protect your baby against disease and infection. Spit up is nature's way of protecting your child. If the spit up becomes excessive and begins affecting the child's weight, you should speak with your pediatrician to determine if there are other underlying health concerns.
There are other methods to use in helping an infant through a restless night’s sleep, but often it is a matter of time. Babies begin to improve their sleeping patterns as they get older. Parents unsure if their baby’s sleep habits are normal should discuss their concerns with their pediatrician.
Lawsuit Against the Baby Sleeper Products
There is no other event more traumatic or horrifying than experiencing the injury or death of a child. Manufacturers of play and sleeping products intended to be used by children and babies have to be held accountable for any form of faulty design in their products.
Parents trust these manufacturers and their products. The last thing they expect to hear or learn is that they have placed their child's life at risk by using a deadly device. Bassinet, baby sleepers, and inclined sleep accessories come from a list of different companies that have been recalled from the public market. These products pose a risk of babies rolling onto their back or side while being restrained and dying of suffocation.
In April, a mother filed a suit on her behalf and others against Fisher-Price and Mattel. Her claim for the suit was that the company marketed its products as safe environments for infants to sleep in. Cassandra Mulvey, the mother initiating the lawsuit, states the marketing was dangerously false and completely misleading. The lawsuit further states the sleeper is not safe for any prolonged sleep of infants.
Another claim against Fisher-Price and Mattel is that the sleeper puts infants at an angle where they are in danger of developing plagiocephaly (flat head) and torticollis (twisted neck) syndromes. These two conditions often require infants to wear incredibly expensive head-molding helmets. It also involves a regime of physical therapy.
Fisher-Price and Mattel did not immediately respond with comments regarding the lawsuit, but later stated that they continue to 'stand by the safety of their products.' They did issue the 'voluntary' recall after this and other warning issued by baby safety experts. They felt the reported incidents were a result of consumers not adhering to the instructions and safety warnings of their product.
Another lawsuit filed by two parents claimed Fisher-Price recall did not come soon enough to save their daughter. She was only twelve weeks old when she died minutes after being placed in the sleeper. The recall was too late, in fact, to save the lives of more than thirty babies or to prevent the numerous injuries caused by their baby sleeper. The Rock ‘n Play Sleeper allows infants to move into positions where they cannot breathe.
In one statement to Consumer Reports from the Fisher-Price company, they state they were aware of the more than thirty infant deaths since the introduction of the product in 2009. They do not; however, believe the deaths were linked to their product. It was their belief in this statement that the many situations, which occurred were due to a medical or health condition, or the product was not used per its instructions or safety warnings.
A lawsuit has also been filed against Chicco, a manufacturer of a baby sleeper, much like those sold by Fisher-Price and Kids II. A father, Jayme Minnich, had laid his three-month-old son down for a nap in the Chicco Lullaby Dream Playard. He laid his son on his back, in the insert sold with the product that was shaped much like a hammock. Minnich noticed his son was no longer breathing after checking on him only thirty minutes later.
Minnich's wife performed life-saving techniques as he called emergency services, and his son was rushed to the hospital, but it was too late. The lawsuit filed states that hospital staff could not revive Minnich's son as he had suffocated while sleeping on his back in the inclined sleeper. Chicco, in one emailed statement regarding the lawsuit, stated this was the only allegation they have received regarding their playard. They would not indicate further what their intentions were regarding the product and the market.
Update and Timeline of Recalls for the Baby Sleepers
- In July, Dorel Juvenile Group in the United States recalled 24,000 of their inclined sleepers. This recall was linked to infant deaths resulting from products similar to theirs. The Dorel Juvenile Group recall includes two of their inclined sleeper models made by the Disney Baby Doze and Dream Bassinet, and the Eddie Bauer Slumber and Soothe Rock Bassinet. They advised parents and caregivers to stop using these products immediately.
- June of 2019, Fisher-Price recalled more than 70,000 of their inclined-sleeper accessories sold with the Ultra-Lite Day and Night Play Yards. This recall was due to deaths reported while using these items in the inclined sleepers.
- In May of 2019, Health Canada announced two recalls for the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleepers sold in their country due to safety risks. The first of the two recalls consisted of about 2,000 products that had been sold from December of 2009 to February of 2011 with model numbers R6070.
The second recall was for about 600 sleepers of various models that had been sold on Amazon.ca between the months of January 2018 and April 2019. Health Canada warns parents and caregivers to immediately stop using these products for both overnight sleep and naps. The recall did not include the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Soothing Seats, which are extremely similar to the recalled products; they are just not marketed for sleep.
- April of 2019, Kids II recalled more than 690,000 of their Rocking Sleepers due to infant deaths and told caregivers and parents to stop using the product immediately. Also, in April, Fisher-Price recalled over 4 million of their Rock ‘n Play Sleepers due to 30 babies dying in the sleeper. All models were included in the recall, and it was done voluntarily by the company. The recall was; however, tied to an announcement by Consumers Report investigation linking the product to the baby’s deaths.
Kidd II has recalled their entire line of Rocking Sleepers due to the suffocation risks. Following the investigation by the Consumer Safety Commission, Fisher-Price has voluntarily recalled their sleepers as they were linked to more than 30 infant deaths.
The month of April saw multiple investigative reports and announcements released from respected organizations. These documents demanded the recall of the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper from the public markets. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics released information on the dangers linked to these sleepers and demanded they be recalled.
Another report released regarding the risk of danger with these products was linked to the removable pads in the sleepers. The pads have proven to easily become moldy, which will create respiratory issues in babies. Respiratory problems result in doctors visits, possible hospitalization, and can create expensive medical treatments.
Fisher-Price has offered to refund parents and caregivers who have purchased their product in the last six months. If the product was bought more than six months ago, they would only issue a voucher for the purchase of another of their products. Director of Kids in Danger does not agree with the settlement. She firmly believes Fisher-Price hopes that parents not fully compensated will instead decide to keep the product.
There have been other recalls issued for angled sleeping products for infants. Boppy manufactures nursing pillows, which act as a sleeping pad for babies. It was recalled as the head and neck support accessory pose a suffocation risk. The product was discovered to be overstuffed, causing the baby's head to tilt too far forward.
Consumer Reports issued a warning to parents concerning the Chicco Lullaby Dream Playard. In the alert, they detailed the tragic death of a three-month-old baby who was found unconscious and not breathing while taking a nap in this product. The company has not yet issued a recall of their product, so Consumer Reports has issued a warning to parents to be wary of using any such sleeper, which offers an inclined or angled sleeping position.
Find a Baby Sleeper Mass Tort Near Me
Consumer Alert Now is ready to help you or someone you know who has suffered the tragic loss of an infant due to the negligence of baby sleeper manufacturers. Call today at 800-511-0747 and learn how you are able to file baby sleeper litigation. We are here through this devastating time to help you find the legal representation you need to become part of a mass tort against the irresponsible manufacturers of infant products. Call today and talk with our professional representatives to find out how you can seek rightful compensation.