If you or someone you know owns either a Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, or a Kids II Rocking Sleeper, we ask that you stop using it immediately.
The last thing any parent wants is to think their baby is unsafe in a product meant for infants. With keen marketing, “expert” recommendations, and availability in stores nationwide, most parents believe the products they’re buying are safe. But that’s not the case with these sleepers.
If you haven’t already heard, there has been a nationwide recall of these sleepers because they put the baby at risk of severe injury or death. That’s because the sleepers rest at an incline– and babies are supposed to sleep on a flat surface.
To start from the beginning, both the Fisher-Price and Kids II sleepers are stationary devices meant for young infants and babies to rest in. They have been sold in major retailers, such as Target, Toys “R” Us, and Walmart, both in stores and online. The device comes with restraints to keep the baby secure, and rests at a slight incline.
The Fisher-Price model was first introduced in 2009. Since 2011, there have been 32 infant deaths associated with its Rock ‘n Play model. Additionally, Kids II sleepers have been sold since 2012 under various names and brands such as Ingenuity, Bright Starts, Disney Baby, or DreamComfort. There have been five reported deaths with the Kids II models.
CBS This Morning conducted a heartbreaking interview with a family that lost their five month old son in the exact Fisher-Price rocking sleeper that is under question. To view their story, click the video below.
Kyle Yasuda, M.D., FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a recent statement:
“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..”
For 25 years, experts have recommended babies sleep on firm, level surfaces. In 1995, the “Back to Sleep” campaign was introduced by the AAP and other organizations to reduce sleep-related deaths like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Now called the “Safe to Sleep” campaign, the intention was to communicate with parents the recommended way for a baby to sleep: on their backs on a firm, flat surface with no interference from bedding.
According to the campaign (available at the AAP website here), Lori Feldman-Winter, MD, FAAP, and member of the Task Force on SIDS said, “There should be no pillows, sheets, blankets or other items that could obstruct the infant’s breathing or cause overheating.”
“If you let your baby sleep in this thing, there’s an increased risk of death,” said Roy Benaroch, M.D. He’s an associated adjunct professor of pediatrics at Emory University in Atlanta and been blogging about the danger of the Rock ‘N Play Sleeper for a long time.
As parents and caregivers, we know it’s incredibly frustrating when our baby doesn’t sleep, or when putting them down in the crib isn’t a viable option. “It’s touchy because you don’t sleep, the baby is not sleeping, parents are exhausted, and they’re looking for a solution,” he said. It makes sense that parents would see the sleeper, event from the name itself, is intended for that very purpose and it must be safe to use.
The problem with the incline of the sleeper is that it can cause “positional asphyxia” and that’s a word none of us want in our vocabulary. This is when the airway is compromised by an unnatural position of the head or chin. Babies, and especially infants, are just only beginning to develop those muscles in their necks and don’t have the strength to pull away from a position that inhibits their breathing.
How is something intended for babies, yet the source of so many unfortunate and heartbreaking deaths, still allowed on the market? This is the question many parents and caregivers have been raising for nearly ten years.
Fisher-Price first designed its rocking sleeper after an employee of the company had a baby with acid reflux. Their pediatrician recommended the baby’s head be lifted slightly when resting to help with the uncomfortable symptoms. Naturally, the company was keen on the idea and the rocking sleeper was created.
In an Atlanta-based lawsuit against Fisher-Price over the rocking sleepers, internal email documents revealed that Gary Deegar, M.D. and medical consultant from Texas, was used by Mattel to reassure the new rocking sleeper device was safe for babies; that the incline was even recommended by experts. However, Deegar is not a pediatrician, nor is he a sleep specialist, according to the Texas Medical Board.
“There’s no evidence to suggest that being on an incline is helpful for reflux,” said Feldman-Winter. “There is a misconception that that’s somehow an okay, safe sleep position, and it’s just not.”
Paul Gaudreau of UPPAbaby, a car seat manufacturer, said the inclined sleepers are something he has been advising against since day one. That’s because the straps can lead to strangulation and that research shows, an incline can even drop a baby’s oxygen levels.
After mounting pressure from organizations and the public, Fisher-Price eventually recalled over 4.2 million rocking sleepers from the market on April 12, 2019.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a video warning about the Kids II rocking sleepers and a recall the company put in place on April 26, 2019.
Ann Marie Buerkle, Acting Chairman of the CPSC, who appears in the video said: “I’m urging parents to stop using this product immediately.. This issue has been a top priority for the agency. CPSC has been investigating incidents and analyzing the data regarding how they relate to this product.”
A relief to many experts and parents who have been fighting this battle, it still does not take away from the fact that these companies are able to get away with manufacturing a product meant for babies that causes more harm than good.
On an aside, I did find one law firm that seems to be filing lawsuits against Fisher-Price and Kids II for the baby sleeper recall.