Becoming a parent is a nerve-wracking journey. Mothers- and fathers-to-be often spend months researching everything that could possibly go wrong, and how to avoid it. The volume of conflicting information can be overwhelming, and sometimes the only way to manage the stress is to unplug and trust that everything will probably be okay.
There are few things more frustrating and terrifying than finding out that your fears for your child are justified, especially when the dangers come in the form of big name baby care products, which many parents assume are the last thing they need to worry about.
The Investigation Is New, but the Deaths Date Back to 2011
Just before Christmas in 2017, 5-month-old Ezra Overton rolled over and suffocated while napping in his Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleeper, prompting his parents to become leaders in the effort to have the product recalled.
More than a year later, Fisher-Price participated in warning parents not to use the Rock ’n Play for children who may be able to roll over, lowering the maximum recommended age from 5 months to 3 months, and acknowledging 10 deaths of older babies dating from 2015.
However, Consumer Reports’ subsequent investigation tied the Rock ’N Play to no less than 32 deaths from 2011 through 2018, many of them involving babies younger than 3 months. Fisher-Price’s warning took no responsibility for those deaths, or for preventing others like them.
The Rock ’n Play Adheres to All Applicable Safety Regulations… Because Fisher-Price Helped Write Them
In a public comment on April 5th, 2019, Fisher-Price expressed its intention to continue selling the Rock ’n Play, arguing that it does not violate any safety regulations. Technically, it doesn’t, but only because those regulations have already been changed to suit Fisher-Price.
In 2010, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) introduced a rule requiring infant sleep products to have no more than a 5 degree incline. Fisher-Price successfully obtained an exception for inclined baby sleepers, like its own Rock ’n Play, claiming that they’re necessary for infants suffering from acid reflux. These claims were based on the approval of a single family practitioner, against the advice of national and international pediatric organizations.
The American Academy of Pediatrics Says There’s No Safe Use for Inclined Baby Sleepers
On April 9th, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) demanded that Fisher-Price go back on its refusal to issue a recall, and urged parents to stop using the Rock ’n Play and other inclined baby sleepers.
According to the AAP, sleeping on an incline is unhelpful for acid reflux and dangerous even for babies who cannot roll, because an infant’s airway can be cut off by a simple lolling of the head forward or to the side.
Of course, this will be small comfort for those who have already lost children to such products. If that’s you, understand that you have done nothing wrong by trusting a product to be safe for its advertised use, and contact the Stoddard Firm for information on how we can help in product liability cases.