The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on June 4 that Fisher-Price is issuing a recall of two products after four infants died while using the products. Fisher-Price’s 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soother and 2-in-1 Soothe ‘n Play Glider are included in this recall. Consumers are urged to stop using these products immediately.
The recall covers U.S. sales of approximately 55,000 gliders and 120,000 soothers. Sales of the glider product stopped in May, while the other product’s sales were halted in December. Around 27,000 soothers and 25,000 gliders were also sold in Canada, and those are being recalled as well.
A previous recall in 2019 of more than 4.7 million Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play baby sleepers was ordered after 30 infants died while using them.
Warning Signs Ignored
As early as 2008, Fisher-Price’s internal safety committee raised flags about the dangers posed to infants while using inclined sleepers. Investigators from the U.S. House of Representatives found that only one doctor was consulted before the product was released to consumers. The investigation also discovered that the doctor was not a pediatrician and allegedly worked in Texas without a medical license.
The report continues that when the Rock ‘n Play was made available to consumers for overnight sleep, there was no internal company or independent research conducted that showed babies are safe when they sleep at an angle. In fact, researchers have cautioned that babies should only be sleeping flat on their backs.
Fisher-Price tested the Rock ‘n Play product only during the development phase with just 62 babies. No medical doctors analyzed the results of these tests.
The Rock ‘n Play product was highly successful for Fisher-Price. Company financial reports showed that this product alone brought in millions of dollars each year. Between 2010-2017, pediatricians and parents in the U.S., Canada and Australia contacted the company with concerns that the product was not safe for overnight sleep.
While Fisher-Price claimed to take the concerns to heart, their resulting market research looked only into how the product would sell if it were marketed as a soother product instead of a sleeper. They found that new mothers were more interested in the soother aspect. So Fisher-Price decided not to change their marketing tactics, leaving infants at risk.
Product Design Concerns
Kids in Danger executive director Nancy Cowles stated to NPR, “this is a long-standing concern of ours with products like this that kind of blur the line between asleep and awake.” Kids in Danger is a non-profit organization that advocates for the safety of products for children of all ages.
Cowles said that her organization wished “that these products were made in such a way that they either were not used for sleep because the design discouraged it or were safe for sleep, and not this in-between one where if you leave a baby sleeping in it they could get themselves in an unsafe position and suffocate.”
Chuck Scothon, general manager of Fisher-Price, pointed out that the company is committed to educating parents and caregivers about how to utilize their products in a safe manner. “There is nothing more important to Fisher-Price than the safety of our products and the trust that families put in us,” he said.
On June 2, CPSC announced a new federal safety standard for sleep products for babies under five months old. Beginning in 2022, any sleep products marketed for use by this age group will be required to meet this safety standard. Any infant sleep products that do not meet the standard must be tested to confirm that the angle at which the infant sleeps is 10 degrees or lower. The product must also comply with CPSC’s Safety Standard for Bassinets and Cradles.
This federal safety standard “ensures that when a product is intended or marketed for sleep, it will indeed be safe for an infant to sleep,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler.
Safe Sleeping Tips
Medical experts, including pediatricians, stress that babies should only sleep flat on their backs on a firm surface such as a crib, play yard or bassinet. CPSC also urges parents and caregivers not to add blankets or pillows as they carry a risk of suffocation.
If you or a loved one have the Fisher-Price’s 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soother or 2-in-1 Soothe ‘n Play Glider in your home, please discontinue using them immediately. To obtain a refund, visit www.service.mattel.com, select “Recalls & Safety Alerts,” or call 1-855-853-6224 between 9 a.m.-6 p.m. EST Monday to Friday.