Rock ‘n Play Recall: What You Need to Know
On April 10, 2019, the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) called for the immediate recall of Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play sleepers. Today, after trying to blame parents and otherwise shirk responsibility for its dangerous product, Fisher-Price announced that it is recalling 4.7 million Rock ‘n Play sleepers. The Fisher-Price recall involves all models of the Rock ‘n Play.
However, Fisher-Price continued to mislead the public even as it announced this recall. The company claims that the hazard that led to the recall is that unrestrained infants roll onto their stomachs and suffocate. The implication is that parents are at fault for failing to monitor their babies. This recall ignores the fact that over two-thirds of the reported deaths involved restrained infants who died from positional asphyxia. Moreover, many of the babies who died from rolling onto their stomachs or sides were restrained. All of this was reported recently by Consumer Reports.
36 Reported Infant Deaths Led to the Recall
The investigation by Consumer Reports connected the cloth-covered cradle to 32 infant deaths from 2011 to 2018, including some involving children under three months. Yesterday, Consumer Reports updated its report to add four more deaths.
On Tuesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics called the Fisher-Price sleeper “deadly” and demanded an immediate recall. Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois and the chairwoman of the House subcommittee focused on consumer protection, added to the outcry on Thursday, pushing Mattel, the parent of Fisher-Price, to remove the sleeper from stores and websites.
RELATED ARTICLE: Does a Disclaimer Mean I Can’t File a Product Liability Lawsuit?
Why Are Rock ‘n Play Sleepers So Dangerous?
According to medical experts, babies should be placed flat on their back alone and free of soft bedding—and not at an incline—to minimize the risk of accidental suffocation. Products such as the Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleeper do not align with these recommendations, which is why the AAP has been calling for its recall.
The AAP has warned that inclined sleepers such as these do not align with safe sleep guidelines, which state that babies should be put to bed alone on their backs, on a firm, flat mattress, free from soft bedding. The Rock ’n Play Sleeper and others like it increase the risk of suffocation and strangulation.
“This product is dangerous and I urge parents and caregivers to stop using it right away,” said Ben Hoffman, M.D., chairperson of AAP’s Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention Executive Committee. “While this recall is specific to the Rock ’n Play, there are other inclined and padded sleeping products on the market that can put infants’ safety at risk. I am glad to see this product off the market and urge all parents to talk to their pediatricians about how to keep their babies safe during sleep time and any time.”
Contrary to Fisher-Price’s misleading recall notice, the Rock ‘n Play is marketed as a sleeper, not a chair that requires parental monitoring. Due to the incline, tiny babies that are three months old or younger are prone to sliding down and dying from positional asphyxia caused by their heads slumping forward and cutting off their airway. However, at least 22 of the 36 reported deaths involve older babies who were able to push their bodies up in the seat by placing their feet on a hard plastic surface that acts as a footboard. These babies eventually tire from pushing up and turn onto their sides or stomachs, burying their faces in the bulking cloth padding on the side of the chair.
Fisher-Price Was Repeatedly Warned About the Rock ‘n Play
The AAP’s basic advice—that babies should sleep on level, firm surfaces—dates back to 1994, well before Fisher-Price created its Rock ’n Play Sleeper. That’s when the AAP and other groups introduced the “Back to Sleep” campaign to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of death. That campaign is now called “Safe to Sleep.”
Around January 2011, Australian regulators wrote to Mattel, explaining why they did not think the Rock ‘n Play should be marketed as a sleep product. They said that the Rock ’n Play Sleeper “is at odds with widely accepted and promoted best practices that these types of products should not be used as an infant bedding alternative.” They also explained that because of the product’s angle, “babies’ heads can easily fall forward in a way that obstructs their airways.” Fisher-Price confirmed it still does not sell the product in Australia.
In Canada, the product is available—but was reclassified from a “sleeper” to a “soother” and is now marketed and sold as the Rock ’n Play Soothing Seat. This was because in February 2011 a representative from Health Canada wrote to Mattel Canada stating that public health officials there had concerns about the Rock ’n Play Sleeper “in light of the Safe Sleep recommendations of Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Canadian Pediatric Society.”
In the United Kingdom, the Rock ’n Play is for sale as a “sleeper,” despite misgivings from health organizations. In February 2011, the Royal College of Midwives in the U.K. told Fisher-Price that the product was suitable only for short periods of supervised play and that the group would not endorse the product as a sleeper. After receiving that news, a Fisher-Price employee wrote in an internal email, “Please see attached the findings from the Royal College of Midwives testing on the sleeper. I’m afraid the findings don’t have good implications for a UK launch.”
However, Mattel and Fisher-Price continued to sell the sleeper in the United States until April 2019.
Phelan Petty: Experienced Product Liability Attorneys
Phelan Petty already represents a Virginia family who lost their baby to this defective sleeper, and we are carefully investigating its defects. Our nationally-recognized product liability lawyers have a track record of successfully handling complex product liability cases. We frequently work with respected experts, including engineers and physicians.
We are aggressive but compassionate, and are the right choice for parents who lost a child to this defective sleeper cradle. Please contact Phelan Petty right away for a free consultation by calling (804) 980-7100 or completing this brief form.