The federal agency, tasked with regulating consumer products, has “identified a hazard with rollover issues,” in which babies move onto their stomachs or sides and can’t return to their back. Buerkle has confirmed that 10 babies older than three months have died in the cot since 2015, and says the agency is in the midst of investigating another 22 deaths to see if they are linked to the sleeper.
Fisher-Price’s general manager Chuck Scothon said in an e-mailed statement the company “stand[s] by the safety of the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper,” which he says meets all applicable safety standards.
On April 5, Fisher-Price and the Consumer Product Safety Commission jointly issued a warning about the product recommending that consumers stop using it by the time their babies are three months of age or when infants begin to be capable of rolling over.
An investigation by Consumer Reports found that the sleepers were tied to the deaths of 32 babies. According to the report, the deaths can be traced back to the crib’s inclined design.
“If the baby’s head falls forward or to the side it compresses the trachea and that limits the oxygen that they can take in,” says Rachel Peachman, a deputy of special projects at Consumer Reports and author of the investigation. “We believe that it is not a safe product for parents to use for infants of any age, and the safest thing to do is to recall the product immediately.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for a recall of the product. Ben Hoffman, a pediatrician and member of American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, says he has had “significant concerns” with the Rock ‘n Play sleeper for a long time.
“We know the safest place for a baby to sleep is on a flat, firm surface,” he says. “It’s not safe for a baby to sleep at an angle, whether it’s a car seat or a swing.”
Hoffman says he’s found Rock ‘n Play sleeper to be “incredibly popular” with families he works with, who believe that the incline can help babies who have trouble sleeping due to acid reflux. According to Fisher-Price’s website, this is exactly how the idea for the Rock ‘n Play originated — a mom looking to make a product that would allow her spit-up prone baby to sleep through the night.
But Hoffman says studies have shown sleeping at an angle can actually make reflux worse for babies. Combine that with the risk of suffocation, and Hoffman says the Fisher-Price cot “is just not a safe sleep environment.”
“I would urge every family that has one to never use it again,” he says. “That’s why [the AAP] feels a move toward a recall is really important.”