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The Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled more than 5.6-million infant inclined sleepers since 2019. The once must-have baby product is responsible for at least 73 infant deaths and 1,000s of injuries due to its defective, unsafe design. Inclined sleeper products are marketed to soothe and calm babies by swaddling and rocking them to sleep. However, the inclined and constricted position puts babies at major risk of suffocation.

To date, recalls have been issued by the CPSC for eight different infant inclined sleeper products:

What are Infant Inclined Sleepers?

Designed to help babies sleep, infant inclined sleepers, such as the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper and the Kolcraft Bassinet and Incline Sleeper, are inclined seats or bassinet-like cots that an infant can be strapped into with a three-point restraining system. They are typically set at a 10-30 degree angled incline. Some versions of the product incorporate music, mobiles, and lights to soothe and entertain babies. It can be set to rock a baby automatically for anywhere from 30 minutes to six hours, making it a convenient choice for busy parents with infants at naptime or bedtime.

Unfortunately, while sleeping, infants can turn on to their sides and stomachs and become unable to roll back over due to the product’s design. This causes their airways to become restricted or closed, leading to choking or suffocation. Also, the inclined position can cause the infants’ heads to fall forward onto their chests, and, because of their young age, they are not strong enough to lift their heads, which restricts their breathing and puts them at risk for asphyxia.

Why were inclined infant sleepers recalled?

Before the recalls began, the popular sleeper chairs, nappers, or swaddlers could be found in most major department stores such as Target and Walmart, online on Amazon or baby sites, and as a common addition to baby registries. Online parenting forums contain comment after comment about how useful the product is. Still, there were very few cautions on how dangerous it could be until the Consumer Reports study was released.

According to extensive research by Consumer Reports, no inclined infant sleeper is safe. The Safe Sleep for Babies Act of September 2019 aims to ban them entirely. Major online retailers, including Amazon, eBay, Buy Buy Baby, and Walmart, have all vowed to stop carrying infant sleepers whether the exact brand or unit model has been recalled or not.

Infant sleepers position babies at between 10 and 30-degree inclines, creating an unsafe sleeping environment for them. Airway compression, suffocation, and death can result when the baby’s head slumps forward, blocks airflow, and makes it easier for a baby to get entangled in or suffocated by the sleeper’s fabric.

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What was the Kolcraft recall?

On May 5, 2021, Chicago-based baby care accessory manufacturer Kolcraft Enterprises Inc. re-announced a recall of its once-popular inclined sleeper accessory. Kolcraft urged consumers to stop using the product immediately in order to prevent the risk of their baby suffocating.

Kolcraft initially recalled the infant sleeper in February 2020. Infant sleepers, in general, are infamous and have a notorious track record for injury and death. Kolcraft’s recall is the ninth such recall, ultimately amounting to some 5.6 million inclined infant sleepers recalled in just 10 months. Parents affected by the Kolcraft inclined infant sleeper may have legal recourse available to them.

What was Kolcraft’s response to the recalls?

When the Chicago-based baby care accessory manufacturer announced its voluntary recall, it shared that consumers who had purchased the $140.00 product would be entitled to a $35 voucher usable on its website or a $30 refund. Given that the product retailed for much more than either of those figures and given its potential for infant harm, many parents have found this inadequate.

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How can I tell if my Kolcraft infant sleeper fits the recall?

The Kolcraft recall affects 51,000 inclined sleeper accessories sold nationwide at department stores and online retailers from March 2011 to December 2017.

To quickly determine if your Kolcraft bassinet might be subject to the recall, you can find the unit’s model number on the metal bar between the bassinet’s legs. (The bassinet isn’t being recalled; the inclined sleeper accessory is.)

The affected products were:

  • Kolcraft Cuddle ‘n Care 2-in-1 Bassinet & Incline Sleeper (starting with model # KB063)
  • Kolcraft Preferred Position 2-in-1 Bassinet & Incline Sleeper (starting with model number KB061)

What did the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper Consumer Reports study reveal?

Consumer Reports, a respected publication focusing on product testing and consumer reviews, conducted an in-depth study of the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. The results were stunning.

Early on, it was found that at least 32 infant deaths were linked to the product, some younger than three months old. The incidents occurred from 2011 to 2018. Many of these injuries and deaths were due to asphyxia and an inability to breathe caused by the infant’s position. Ongoing investigations by the publication later revealed that at least 73 deaths and 1,000s of injuries were linked to inclined sleeper products.

Over the next several months, the publication’s editors continually called to have several brands of inclined sleeper products recalled and removed from shelves, echoing warnings about sleep positioning pediatricians have made for years. Their reporting has led to recalls being issued for Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play Sleepers, a series of inclined sleeper accessories sold with the Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite & Night Play Yards products, Kids II inclined sleepers, Graco Little Lounger Rocking Seats, Sumr Brands SwaddleMe By Your Bed Sleepers, Dorel’s Disney and Eddie Bauer-branded inclined sleepers, Delta Inclined Sleepers With Adjustable Feeding Position for Newborns; and Evenflo’s Pillo Portable Nappers.

How did pediatricians respond to the recalls?

Pediatricians have long been critics of inclined sleepers, warning parents and the public about the suffocation risks of the product. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a strongly worded rebuke to the initial April 2019 CPSC alert, cautioning that it did not go far enough and urging the agency to begin an immediate recall of the product based on the Consumer Reports study and the AAP’s advice on sleep positioning.

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An AAP release stated: “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 inclined sleepers put infants’ lives at risk, and CPSC must step up and take immediate action to remove it from stores and prevent further tragedies.

“The AAP does not recommend inclined sleepers or any products for sleep that require restraining a baby. The AAP advises against using car seats, strollers or other devices for sleep because of the risk that a baby could roll or turn into an unsafe position and be incapable of moving, leading to suffocation or strangulation.”

How can Meyers & Flowers help?

Meyers & Flowers has fought on behalf of numerous families who fell victim to defective products and devices. Our caring, aggressive legal team understands what it means to demand fair and just compensation from major corporations, who often consider a bottom line more important than the safety of their products. For baby care products, dangerous and defective devices are particularly egregious.

We are focused on protecting a client’s rights through exhaustive case development and trial preparations. If your family has experienced a loss or an injury due to a recalled inclined sleeper, please reach out to us at [email protected] or 877-221-2511. Consumers or parents affected by emotional or physical trauma may have legal recourse available to them.

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