Citing deaths of 73 babies, Consumer Reports says feds’ move to ban inclined sleepers isn’t enough
“There is no reason to wait for more deaths or injuries,” the advocacy group’s CEO writes. “Too many dangerous sleep products remain for sale and in use at homes and day care centers and continue to put infants at risk.”
A leading consumer organization called Monday for all infant inclined sleepers to be immediately pulled from store shelves and homes, saying the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission isn’t able to move fast enough to prevent more baby deaths.
The president and chief executive officer of Consumer Reports sent letters to nine manufacturers and an industry group citing 73 reported infant deaths and demanding immediate action.
“There is no reason to wait for more deaths or injuries to take action,” the organization’s CEO Marta Tellado wrote. “Too many dangerous sleep products remain for sale and in use at homes and day care centers and continue to put infants at risk. We strongly urge you to remove all inclined products from store shelves, online marketplaces and people’s homes permanently.”
The letter was sent to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association and manufacturers Baby Delight, Chicco, Dorel Juvenile, Evenflo, Fisher-Price, Graco, Hiccapop, Nuna and Summer Infant.
Just a few years ago, inclined sleepers could be found in millions of homes, used by sleep-deprived parents hoping they’d help get their babies to doze. But the angle of the product can make babies flop into a position that cuts off the airway and causes suffocation.
As a result, more than five million inclined sleepers have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission since last spring — including the popular Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play and Kids II Rocking Sleeper.
The federal agency voted unanimously last week to begin what could be a months-long process to ultimately ban any infant sleep product with more than a 10-degree angle. A study commissioned by the federal government looked at how infants move and use their muscles in inclined sleepers and determined that no inclined sleepers over 10 degrees were safe.
But Consumer Reports and other advocates say more needs to be done, quicker than the federal rules-making process allows, as sleepers remain in homes, and infants continue to die.
In addition to products marketed for specifically for infant “sleep,” it’s also calling for all infant products labeled for “napping,” “resting” or “snoozing” to be recalled, as well as those that imply they are safe for some kinds of sleep but not “unsupervised,” “prolonged” or “overnight” sleep.
The manufacturers’ association said it supports the CPSC’s rules-making process and “will continue to work across the industry to promote baby safety.” However, it pushed back on the CPSC-commissioned study, saying “we believe the risks and hazards ... have been mischaracterized based on assumptions of unsafe sleep practices.”
Inclined sleepers hit the U.S. market in 2009 with promises to calm infants’ reflux and help provide a more restful night’s sleep. They were sold with no federal standards or mandatory safety testing.
In 2015, as the death toll rose, the industry approved voluntary standards. By then, safety advocates including Chicago-based Kids in Danger were arguing that no inclined sleepers were safe.
A Chicago Sun-Times investigation published in August found that sleepers that had been recalled were still widely available on online resale platforms. It’s illegal to resell products that have been recalled for safety defects.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, which is based in northwest suburban Itasca and has about 67,000 members, has urged parents to immediately stop using all inclined sleepers. Its safe-sleep recommendations say babies should sleep on their own on a firm, flat surface with no extra bedding.