Warning about Rock 'n Play sleeper issued in US after infant deaths

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission and Fisher-Price issued a joint statement warning parents to stop using the Rock 'n Play sleeper when a child reaches three months old or has the ability to roll over.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission and Fisher-Price issued a joint statement warning parents to stop using the Rock 'n Play sleeper when a child reaches three months old or has the ability to roll over.PHOTO: CPSC

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - A federal consumer agency and Fisher-Price are warning parents about the Rock 'n Play sleeper following reports that 10 infants since 2015 have died after rolling over while in the seat.

In a joint statement last Friday, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and Fisher-Price recommended that parents stop using the seat when a child reaches three months old "or as soon as an infant exhibits rollover capabilities".

The deaths occurred after infants rolled from their back to their stomach or side when they were unrestrained in the seat. All the infants who died were under three months old, the statement said.

The Rock 'n Play sleeper features a fabric cradle on a metal stand that rocks babies so they can be soothed to sleep. Fisher-Price said parents should always use the sleeper's harness to secure infants.

"Always use the provided restraints, always place infants on their backs to sleep, and make sure that no pillows, blankets or extra padding are placed in the Rock 'n Play sleeper," Fisher-Price said in a separate statement released by Mattel, its parent company. "A child fatality is an unimaginable tragedy."

The statements did not specifically explain how the infants died, and representatives from the companies and agency were unavailable on Saturday.

Parenting blogs have praised the baby sleeper for years. In a blog post from 2016 on storyoffive.com, a mother called the sleeper the best baby product she had ever bought. In a blog post in February, writers at CynicalParent.com called it "magic" but suggested that parents see their child's paediatrician before making a purchase.

 

In a 2013 blog post, Dr Roy Benaroch, a paediatrician in Atlanta, wrote his first recommendation against using it. He cited sleep guidelines from the American Academy of Paediatrics as reason enough not to use the Rock 'n Play.

"The guidelines went over several important ways that parents can ensure that their children were sleeping safely," Dr Benaroch said on Saturday. "Among them was that babies should be placed to sleep on a firm, flat surface, and on their back. The Rock 'n Play is neither firm nor flat."

For children under three months, Dr Benaroch suggested following the academy guidelines, which say that parents should "avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys" and that the crib should be bare.

"The sleep safety guidelines are meant to be enforced from birth onward," Dr Benaroch said. "Once babies are old enough to roll and wiggle, you don't have to keep them on their back. You give them a kiss and say good night."