For exhausted new parents, the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper seemed like a miraculous way to encourage newborns to sleep. Now everyone must stop using the popular product, since Fisher-Price and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled the Rock ‘n Play Sleepers because of a link to infant death.
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The story begins in April 2019, when Fisher-Price and CPSC revealed 10 infants (3 months or older) died from rolling over while using it. A few days later, the American Academy of Pediatrics asked the CPSC to issue a recall in response to a Consumer Reports article, which revealed more information about infant deaths than was shared in Fisher-Price’s warning. The article stated at least 32 babies have died while in the Rock ’n Play—some younger than 3 months—and rolling over wasn't always the reason.
“We cannot put any more children’s lives at risk by keeping these dangerous products on the shelves,” Rachel Moon, M.D., FAAP, chair of the AAP Task Force on SIDS, said in a statement. “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.”
Soon enough, Fisher-Price issued a formal recall on April 12 for all 4.7 million of its Rock ’n Play Sleepers. They said parents should stop using the product right away.
“Since the 2009 product introduction, over 30 infant fatalities have occurred in Rock ‘n Play Sleepers, after the infants rolled over while unrestrained, or under other circumstances,” the recall stated.
A few weeks later, on April 26, 2019, a company called Kids II recalled 694,000 of its Rocking Sleepers for the same reason. This came after Consumer Reports linked four infant deaths to the product earlier that month.
And the recalls haven't stopped there. Fisher-Price recalled 71,000 inclined-sleeper accessories in June, citing infant deaths linked to other inclined sleep products that use the accessories. Dorel Juvenile Group USA also issued a recall for 24,000 inclined sleepers in July.
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Why Were the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleepers Linked to SIDS?
The inclined sleepers were recalled because of a link to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a condition characterized by babies dying unexpectedly during sleep. About 3,500 infants die from SIDS each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Experts aren’t completely sure was causes SIDS, but there are several risk factors—including sleeping on the stomach, according to Steven A. Shapiro, D.O., chair of the Pediatrics Department at Abington–Jefferson Health. This might be because some infants can’t wake themselves up if they’re struggling to breathe, and stomach-sleeping increases the likelihood that they’re inhaling oxygen-depleted air.
According to Dr. Shapiro, babies should always sleep on their backs on a firm, flat surface with nothing else except a tight-sheeting fit. The Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper doesn't follow these guidelines. It's an inclined, curved sling with plenty of soft padding.
While using the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, a baby's tiny head could to fall forward or sideways, cutting off airflow and causing positional asphyxia. Babies have also died from rolling onto their side or stomach—a known risk factor for SIDS.