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Consumer Product Safety Commission: No more inclined sleepers

The federal agency is proposing a ban on the popular products, which have been implicated in 64 baby deaths nationwide.

A recalled Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play.
A recalled Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play.
Provided photo

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission called Thursday for a halt in sales of all inclined baby sleepers, a popular product that has been implicated in at least 64 infant deaths nationwide.

The federal safety agency announced its intention in a notice that still must be approved by the full commission.

The change would ban the sale of any infant sleep product with a tilt of more than 10 degrees — effectively banning the entire category of products.

Last spring and summer, the agency announced recalls of 4.7 million Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play sleepers, 694,000 Kids II Rocking Sleepers and 24,000 Dorel-brand sleepers following a spate of infant deaths. It also recalled 71,000 inclined sleep inserts for Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite play yards.

Even with the recalls, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation found widespread availability of the recalled sleepers on online resale platforms. It’s illegal to resell products that have been recalled for safety defects.

If approved by the full CPSC, the ban would cover the sale of all inclined infant sleepers as well as inclined infant hammocks.

Consumer and child safety organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kids in Danger, Consumer Federation of America, Public Citizen and U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund hailed the commission’s announcement. The groups have advocated for safe sleep principles such as a flat surface, no restraints and no added padding.

Inclined sleepers with an incline of 10 to 30 degrees were introduced in the United States in 2009 and became popular with parents hoping to calm babies’ reflux and get them back to sleep.

But serious problems arose. It turned out that, at such an angle, a sleeping baby’s head can roll heavily forward or to the side, blocking the airway and causing asphyxiation.

The sleepers were sold with no federal standards or mandatory safety testing. In 2015, the industry belatedly approved voluntary standards — by then safety advocates were arguing that no inclined sleepers were safe.

The consumer groups are urging the CPSC to immediately recall all inclined sleepers on the market while they pursue the wider ban.

“We think there’s enough evidence ... that there aren’t any on the market that are safe,” said Nancy Cowles, executive director of Chicago-based Kids in Danger.