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A busy or tired new parent often looks for products they can buy that will help their little one sleep safely while they take a nap or accomplish other tasks. Baby sleepers are designed to hold an infant and keep them entertained. The Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper is one such device that is now in the news at the center of controversy with several infant deaths attributed to the product and a potential Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper Lawsuit looming.
What is the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper?
The Rock ‘n Play Sleeper from Fisher-Price is an inclined sleeper at a 30-degree angle and it also serves as an infant seat which holds the baby at the specified angle for short naps. With just a gentle push, the sleeper begins rocking back and forth to lull the baby to sleep. The product is lightweight and folds for easy storage or to take it with you. There is no pillow or sheet for the sleeper, which is supposed to make it safer for use.
You can also set the vibrations to help calm the child or attach a teething ring or other toys. The sleeper includes a three-point harness which is designed to keep the baby in place. According to Fisher Price, the product is designed for age ranges of zero to three months or when the baby starts showing signs of attempting to turn over. The maximum weight is 20 pounds. Older babies are not safe in the sleeper, so it is best not to continue use.
Parent testimonials show that they often use it for their babies to take afternoon naps as well as for sleeping at night. They may take it with them to hotels or for visiting family or other travel ventures for a safe sleep environment. In fact, many parents say they use the sleeper because it’s the only way their little one will sleep. They feel the angled design is ideal for babies with acid reflux or for any who hate laying on a flat surface.
The Dangers of the Sleeper
While the product is often viewed as a lifesaver by tired and stressed parents, it has been associated with several incidents in the last few years that led to infant deaths. The main risk for the sleeper comes from using it with a baby that is able to turn over or pull themselves up. The padding can lead to asphyxiation while the restraints can cause strangulation or prevent the baby from moving out of a dangerous position.
A report by USA Today showed that Consumer Reports believes the incline sleeper should be recalled because it has been associated with up to 32 infant deaths, making it unsafe for babies. This statistic is up from an earlier report of 10 deaths. The Wall Street Journal also indicated that up to 700 injuries have resulted from the product, according to a report on Friday, November 23, 2018.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning jointly with Fisher Price for parents to stop using the sleeper by the time the baby is three months old or as soon as they show they have rollover capabilities, as reported in a story by the New York Times on April 6, 2019. The 10 deaths occurred since 2015 when the babies rolled over to their side or stomach from their backs. They were unrestrained.
Consumer Reports has been conducting its own investigation into the popular product and says the numbers are higher, with at least 32 babies who have died. According to this report, babies younger than the three-month limit have died. William Wallace who is a senior policy analyst for Consumer Reports wants to see the product recalled and banned from use. He believes no product which goes against the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations should be on the market.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a federal government agency, infants should be placed on their backs for safe sleep. The sleeping surface should be a firm, flat crib bed or bassinet. Lori Feldman-Winter, M.D. and part of the task force with the AAP explained that the product did not follow the guidelines that have been recognized to help in preventing SIDS.
Experts believe the AAP should be followed when sleep products are designed because they have done the research and studies, and parents should not be expected to know what is safe. Pediatricians keep up to date on the latest changes to the guidelines and can be a valuable resource to know what is best for sleep with newborns and babies.
Science has shown that providing a flat surface for infant sleep has reduced the number of SIDS cases. Even leaving a baby in a car seat is not recommended for long periods of time and can result in injuries. Regulators have specific requirements for sleeping surfaces, but the sleeper is not categorized the same as a bassinet or crib.
The general manager of Fisher Price, Chuck Scothon, issued a statement which told readers that the company works hard to maintain the trust parents have in the products and believes each situation was a tragedy. The Rock ‘n Play Sleeper meets all applicable safety standards and is not dangerous, according to Scothon. He also stated that all warnings and instructions must be read and followed. However, Consumer Reports believes that the responsibility of determining product safety should not be put on parents or caregivers.
A spokesperson for the CPSC, Patty Davis, stated that an investigation is being conducted to determine if a recall is needed. The latest death occurred in February 2019, but there are no details of when many of the other deaths occurred.
Lawsuits for Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper
Several lawsuits have been filed against Fisher Price in connection with the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. One of the earliest complaints occurred in 2011 when a two-month-old girl was reported to have died after sleeping in the sleeper. The infant’s head was tilted towards the side though she was still on her back. The determination of the cause of death was positional asphyxia or being unable to breathe due to the position.
Another case involves a five-month-old boy who had turned over on his stomach and died from the same cause – asphyxia. Other children, including some just a few days old, have died while in the sleeper. Others have stopped breathing but were able to be resuscitated. All cases indicate that the sleeper is to blame for the deaths and injuries.
In Canada, the product has been remarketed as a soother rather than a sleeper. The UK also has misgivings about the product, especially for use with routine sleep. Even with these concerns, no recall has been made.
Parents who have a baby and own one of these sleepers should be very careful about the use. Babies should not be left unattended, and they should be cautious about using it for an overnight sleeper, according to experts who are warning parents about these products. They recommend it only for short timeframes and only when supervised. Change to a flat surface to prevent these issues from happening to your child.
If you have lost a baby to asphyxia or another condition which may have been caused from sleeping in the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your loss. Even if your child recovered from the incident, you may be eligible to receive a settlement for your medical expenses that resulted.
Contact an attorney online, by phone or through email or a PM to find out if you have a case against the manufacturer.