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Congress takes action on dangerous inclined baby sleepers

Bills were introduced this week in the U.S. House and Senate to ban all infant sleeping devices with an incline greater than 10 degrees. This would bring the U.S. in-line with Canadian safety regulations regarding inclined baby sleepers.

Millions of baby sleepers recalled

Inclined baby sleepers are a bassinet-like device for babies, which were popular among parents who could not afford cribs and widely marketed as safe for all-night sleep. The sleepers came under wide-spread criticism as a result of a Consumer Reports expose’ that resulted in the recall by Fisher-Price of almost 5 million of its Rock ‘n Play inclined sleepers. This was followed by the recall by Kids II of its inclined sleeper.

The hazard posed by inclined baby sleepers

The shape and design of these devices permits infants who are not yet able to stand to nonetheless move themselves into a standing position in the seat during which their face can be pressed against soft padded surfaces of the sleeper, resulting in the baby being unable to breathe and suffocating.  Also, the degree of incline causes small infants’ heads to slouch into a position that can cut off their breathing, resulting in positional asphyxia.  As far back as 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that babies should sleep on fat, firm surfaces, not inclines, and that there should not be anything in the sleeping area that could suffocate the baby.  The AAP subsequently released “safe sleep” guidelines designed to prevent suffocation deaths.  Fisher-Price first marketed its inclined Rock ‘n Play Sleeper in 2009, 17 years after the first AAP recommendation.  Several models of the Rock ‘n Play came  with soft padded inserts that surrounded the baby’s body and head.   There is evidence that prior to marketing its Chinese-made sleeper, Fisher-Price knew and was warned about the dangers of babies pushing up into a standing position and being in a position to suffocate.  There are at least 38 known cases of infant suffocation in Rock ‘n Play sleepers.

Inclined baby sleepers still legal

Despite these recalls, inclined baby sleepers remain legal in the United States. A Washington Post article in May discussed how Fisher-Price marketed the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper without input from a pediatrician or adequate medical safety testing.  Until these bills pass, distributors and manufacturers such as Fisher-Price will be able to  sell inclined baby sleepers and market them as safe for all-night sleep.

Phelan Petty: Experienced Product Liability Attorneys

Phelan Petty represents parents who lost their baby due to a defective sleeper, and we are actively investigating these cases nationwide.  Please contact us right away for a free consulation by calling 804-980-7100 or 866-249-3164 or by completing this brief form.


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