Citing over 1,100 incidents and 70 infant deaths over the past 14 years, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a warning to parents: do not use inclined sleepers for your babies.
The controversy over inclined sleepers came to public attention earlier this year when Fisher-Price, a 90-year-old manufacturer of products for infants and children, issued a recall for it's Rock n Play inclined sleeper. The Rock n Play was introduced in 2009 – and in the beginning, seemed like a heaven-sent solution for stressed-out, sleep-deprived parents. Another similar product, the Snoo Smart Sleeper, was and is still available, but at $1300, is beyond the means of many parents – so the more modestly-priced Rock n Play was an instant hit.
Beyond the price tag, there are two significant differences between the Snoo Smart and the Rock n Play: first, the Snoo Smart was designed by a pediatrician, whereas the Rock n Play was the brain-child of an industrial designer with no credentials or experience in professional health care and medicine. Secondly, the Snoo-Smart is not inclined, whereas the Rock n Play sits at a 30-degree incline.
Therein lies the danger, according to the recent CPSC warning. Fisher-Price was not mentioned specifically, but parents are advised against using any inclined sleeper or allowing their infants to sleep in any way other than flat on their backs. The advisory also recommends that parents not use blankets or pillows, as these pose suffocation risks.
Warnings have come from other sources as well, including pediatricians and consumer advocacy groups. In April, the American Academy issued its own advisory, urging parents to cease using the Rock n Play after the publication of an investigation by Consumer Reports that found 32 sleep-related infant fatalities were attributable to the product between 2011 and 2018.
At first, Fisher-Price defended the product, claiming that the Rock n Play was in compliance with “all applicable safety standards” as outlined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and citing certification by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. The statement also instructed parents to “follow all safety warnings included with the product” and to discontinue using it once the infant is able to roll over.
Mattel, the parent company of Fisher-Price, has not yet responded to the recent advisory.
The CPSC also warns parents not to use car seats or “baby bouncers” when putting their babies down for the night.