According to a recent investigation by Consumer Reports, at least 32 babies have died while in Fisher-Price® Rock ‘n Play Sleepers™. As part of its investigation, the customer-focused publication called on Fisher-Price to recall their product for its safety hazards.
In early April 2019, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning about the product. However, many consumer advocates believed the government’s warning did not go nearly far enough.
As identified by Consumer Reports, the problem with the rocker seemed to be its overall design. The Rock ‘n Play Sleeper™ — intended to offer babies a means of laying on their backs while at an incline — violates one of the cardinal rules of infant care: that newborn babies should lay flat on their backs.
According to the medical experts interviewed by Consumer Reports, when babies lie on their backs at an incline, it can increase their risk of accidental suffocation.
CPSC Issues Alert, Warning Consumers About Rock ‘n Play Sleeper™
In its joint alert with Fisher-Price, the CPSC warned potential customers about the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper™, stating that since 2015, at least 10 infants have died as a result of rolling over from their backs onto their sides while in the Rock n’ Play Sleeper™. As warned by medical experts, these infant deaths occurred as a result of accidental suffocation.
Further research by Consumer Reports found at least 32 deaths linked to the sleeper since its debut in 2009.
In all of these tragic deaths, the infants involved were around 3-months-old. This is important to note, because according to medical experts, 3 months is right around the time that infants start to reach the milestone of being able to roll themselves over onto their sides.
CPSC’s alert stated:
“Because deaths continue to occur, CPSC is recommending consumers stop use of the product by three months of age, or as soon as an infant exhibits rollover capabilities. CPSC has previously warned consumers to use restraints in infant inclined sleep products.”
After the alert, Fisher-Price warned owners of the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper™ to stop using the product once their infant reaches the milestone of being able to roll over.
Fisher-Price® Recall: Too Little, Too Late
Unfortunately, for dozens of families, the joint Fisher-Price and CPSC warning on April 5 came much too late. For days after the warning was issued, Fisher-Price resisted calls to take the product off the market. But after much public scrutiny and pushback, Fisher-Price eventually relented, issuing the recall on April 15.
Now, around 4.7 million Rock ‘n Play Sleepers have been recalled, according to a report by Vox. To many, Fisher-Price’s decision came as a bit of a surprise after days of staunch opposition to recalling their product.
In fact, in response to Consumer Reports’ original request for recall, Fisher-Price issued a statement:
“The loss of a child is a devastating tragedy. We will continue to do all we can to ensure that parents and caregivers have the information necessary to create a safe sleep environment for infants.”
Even after the recall, Fisher-Price reiterated that it does not believe that “any deaths have been caused by the product.”
However, consumer advocates continue to allege that the Fisher-Price® Rock ‘n Play Sleeper™ defied best practices and that the infant deaths were a direct result of design flaws with the product itself.
Notably, medical experts agree that infants should have firm, flat surfaces on which to sleep. Specifically designed to be at an incline, the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper™ discourages flat-black sleeping.
As part of its investigation, Consumer Reports analyzed undisclosed CPSC data, interviews with medical experts, and a number of Fisher-Price® Rock ‘n Play lawsuits — all of which point to serious questions about Fisher-Price’s overall product design and marketing strategy.
A Devastating Tragedy for New Parents
Parents who have lost their newborns while in the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper™ are understandably devastated. After all, the packaging advertised the product as an “inclined sleeper built for all-night sleep.”
Bewildered, many of the families affected by such tragedies took to the Internet to look for answers. What they found was an entire community of people who had experienced similar tragedies due to inclined sleepers.
The decision by Fisher-Price to remove their product from the market is an important first step — and could ultimately save infant lives. But it is worth pointing out that their decision only came after multiple attempts by the company to shift the responsibility onto the owners of the product, stating that such infant deaths were likely due to improper use of the product, and not the product itself.
Experts, of course, disagreed — and one thing everyone knows for certain is this: One infant death is one too many.