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The Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled more than 6 million infant inclined sleepers to date. The once must-have baby product is responsible for more than 200 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.

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.

there is a baby laying in a baby seat in the grass

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. In May 16, 2022, President Joe Biden signed into law the "Safe Sleep for Babies Act of 2021," which prohibits the manufacture and sale of crib bumpers or inclined sleepers for infants.

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 Fisher-Price recall?

The most recent incline sleeper recall was made in June, 2021 by the children product giant, Fisher Price. On June 4, 2021, Fisher-Price and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPCS), voluntarily recalled both the 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soother and 2-in-1 Soothe ‘n Play Glider. The recall came just days before reports accuse the Fisher Price of ignoring repeated safety warnings even after infants started dying.

During the decade that the once popular Rock ‘n Play was on the market, more than 50 infants died in connection to the sleeper before all models were recalled in April 2019, according to a new congressional report.  A 20-month investigation by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform alleges that the corporation did not adequately vet the product for safety before selling roughly 4.7 million to unsuspecting consumers. 

The Rock ‘n Play hit stores in 2009, marketed as an innovative, safe overnight sleeper offering a solution for getting infants to fall asleep without being held.  The product was designed for infants to lie on their backs at a thirty-degree angle with their feet at a downward position. At the time, it was the only infant-inclined sleeper on the market - making it an instant success.

there is a baby's foot on a blanket with a stuffed animal

Did Fisher-Price know the dangers of incline sleepers?

The Rock 'n Play brought in millions of dollars in sales each year, totaling $200 million before the product was discontinued, the report found.  All the while, Fisher-Price knew the grave danger of their widely popular product.  Documents obtained by the Committee confirmed that the corporation had become aware of the serious dangers associated with the Rock ‘n Play before its launch.  House investigators also found that the New-York company apparently consulted only one doctor before bringing the sleeper to the market.  Which the report uncovered that the physician was not a pediatrician and was later accused of practicing medicine without a license.

Once the sleeper hit shelves, Fisher-Price continued to disregard alarms raised by regulators, pediatricians, and consumers.  It was only a matter of time until the product received a consumer complaint that a child had stopped breathing while in the sleeper. The report described that the child had regained breathe after being picked up.  In response, the company issued a refund and discounted any further review.

It was all but two months later in December 2012 when Fisher-Price received another report that an infant had died in their sleeper, according to the committee’s research.  It was not until seven years later and an alarming death toll of over 50 babies until Fisher-Price issued a recall of their must-have product.

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How can I tell if my Fisher-Price infant sleeper fits the recall?

The Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Rock 'n Glide Soothers and 2-in-Sooth 'n Play Gliders recall affects 175,000 inclined sleepers sold nationwide at department stores and online retailers. The 4-in-1 Rock 'n Glide Soothers were sold from January 2014 through December 2020. The 2-in-1 Soothe 'n Play Gliders were sold from November 2018 through May 2021.

The affected products were:

  • Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper
  • Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Rock 'n Glide Soothers
  • Fisher-Price 2-in-1 Sooth 'n Play Gliders

Anyone with one of these products should stop using it immediately and contact Fisher-Price for a refund.

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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