In April of 2019, under mounting pressure from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Consumer Reports, child safety advocates, and public opinion, Fisher-Price issued a Rock 'n Play sleeper recall for all 4.7 million units sold in the United States. The device has resulted in at least 32 Rock 'n Play infant deaths, caused by positional asphyxia and smothering. The product's design is in direct violation of infant sleeping standards that date back to the early 1990s. Millions of parents have unknowingly exposed their newborn or infant to a deadly risk, and our hearts go out to families who have lost their precious child as a result of the Fisher-Price's dangerous sleeper. This page contains comprehensive information on the Rock 'n Play recall.
The Rock 'n Play sleeper is categorized as an "infant inclined sleep product", a designation created by the Consumer Products Safety Commission to accommodate sales of the device. Originally classified as a bassinet when it was released in 2009, the device's 30 degree angle of incline render it unsafe by tightened bassinet and crib safety standards in 2010. The collapsible inclined baby sleeper promises better sleep for infants (and thus for busy, working parents) by nestling the infant at an angle and supporting the head with plush cushions. By helping babies to sleep more soundly and providing cushioning, the Rock 'n Play puts infants at risk for death by smothering and asphyxiation.
"We cannot put any more children's lives at risk by keeping these dangerous products on the shelves," said Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Task Force on SIDS. "The Rock 'n Play inclined sleeper should be removed from the market immediately. It does not meet the AAP's recommendations for a safe sleep environment for any baby. Infants should always sleep on their back, on a separate, flat and firm sleep surface without any bumpers or bedding."
The device became wildly popular among parents who trusted the Fisher-Price brand and marketing claims that the device was "safe for all-night sleep". Desperate for sleep, parents of newborns are a vulnerable group and the Rock 'n Play baby sleeper played on that vulnerability. Approximately 4.7 million Rock 'n Plays have sold in the United States since 2009; Fisher-Price's parent company, Mattel, had $4.5 billion in sales in 2018.
On May 31, 2018, ten months before the Rock 'n Play recall, the CPSC issued the first inclined sleeper warning. The warning outlined the hazards of inclined sleepers include the Fisher Price Rock 'n Play and the Kid II Ingenuity Moonlight Rocking Sleeper. Based on reports of babies rolling over and smothering, parents were warned to use the provided restraints and discontinue use at three months of age or when the baby could roll over.
On April 5, 2019, Fisher-Price issued a warning to consumers citing the danger of Rock 'n Play smothering. At that time, the company confirmed 10 infant smothering deaths in Rock 'n Play sleepers, all among babies older than 3 months. It has since become public knowledge that babies under the age of 3 months have also suffered fatal conditions from the Rock 'n Play.
April 8, 2019, Consumer Reports published an in-depth investigation into inclined sleeper deaths, documenting 32 confirmed Rock 'n Play deaths and calling for a comprehensive Rock 'n Play recall. That same day, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) called on the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to issue an immediate recall, stating the April 5 warning "did not go far enough" to protect infants from the "deadly" sleeper.
"This product is deadly and should be recalled immediately," said Kyle Yasuda, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "When parents purchase a product for their baby or child, many assume that if it's being sold in a store, it must be safe to use. Tragically, that is not the case. There is convincing evidence that the Rock 'n Play inclined sleeper puts infants' lives at risk, and CPSC must step up and take immediate action to remove it from stores and prevent further tragedies."
Fisher-Price and the CPSC responded by announcing a full Rock 'n Play recall on April 12, 2019. The Rock 'n Play recall includes all 4.7 million products sold in the United States since 2009. The announcement states, "Consumer should immediately stop using the product," and promises a refund for all returned products. Yet the Rock 'n Play recall comes too late for families who have lost a child to this dangerous product, and for those who experienced the trauma of a near miss related to smothering or asphyxiation of their child.
According to Nancy Cowles at the child advocacy group Kids in Danger (KID), the CPSC "should get rid of this product category" entirely, because inclined sleep is not safe for infants. On February 12, Consumer Reports called for the recall of another inclined sleeper, the Kids II Ingenuity Moonlight Rocking Sleeper, citing four Kids II infant sleeper deaths.
Medical associations in Australia, Canada, and the U.K. balked at the Rock 'n Play upon its 2009 release. In Australia, regulators determined the device was unsafe and it was not sold in the country. In Canada, noting Rock 'n Play sleep safety violations, regulators permitted the sale of the device as a "soother" rather than a "sleeper", and recommended constant supervision of the child during use. And in the U.K., the Royal College of Midwives raised concerns. Rock 'n Play sleeper recalls are likely to take place in other markets in addition to the United States.
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