On June 4, 2021, Fisher-Price recalled about 120,000 of its 4-in-1 Rock ’n Glide Soother devices. This comes after the unfortunate deaths of four infants, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The recall was issued two days after CPSC voted on approving a rule that establishes all products that are marketed and intended to help infant sleeping meet a set of rigorous safety standards. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform plans to hold a hearing investigation tied to the dozens of deaths already linked to Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play Sleeper. The company is being investigated on how it was able to keep a product on the market for so long even with a laundry list of risks.
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-NY, is the chairwoman for the house committee. In a statement, she said, “The Oversight Committee has been investigating this issue for nearly two years, and next week the company’s CEO will testify before the Committee and explain why his company appears to have put profits over people.”
The CPSC documents consumer recalls and has been carefully following infant deaths associated with rockers. In April 2019 and February 2020, four infants died from suffocation after they turned on their side. The cushioning from the rocker restricted their breathing. The ages were 11 weeks old, four months old, and two 2-month-old infants.
Fisher-Price has been embroiled in many disturbing recalls, including its 2-in-1 Soothe ‘n Play Gliders. Though no deaths have been associated with those devices, over 55,000 were recalled from the consumer market.
Any parents, guardians, or childcare facilities should immediately stop using the Fisher-Price models that have been recalled and seek full compensation the company is offering.
William Wallace is the manager of safety policy for Consumer Reports. He said the situation with Fisher-Price is “appalling.”
In reference to another similar product made by the company, Wallace said, “Fisher-Price kept selling inclined products that it marketed as a way to help get infants to sleep, even after it recalled the dangerous Rock ’n Play Sleeper.”
“Now we’ve learned four babies died in the span of just 10 months in another product, causing unimaginable pain for their families,” he said. “The behavior of Fisher-Price and its parent company, Mattel, yet again raises serious doubts about their commitment to safety.”
Consumer Reports also issued its own investigation on infant fatalities associated with inclined and rocking sleepers.
In 2019, CR issued a warning for caregivers about inclined sleeping products to avoid, including the 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soother made by Fisher-Price. The device has been marketed for sleep by Fisher-Price, which goes against contemporary sleep safety recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other experts. It has long been indicated babies should sleep on their backs on a firm, flat surface without bedding (such as a blanket) and restraints.
However, the 4-in-1 Soothe ‘n Play Glider and the 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soother have been marketed for sleep in very obvious campaign wording. For example, “the Fisher-Price infant seat gives you the chance to do other things while your baby gets rocked to sleep” and “the gliding and rocking motions along with the calming vibration, gentle music and nature sounds can make putting your baby to sleep quick and simple.” The marketing images have also depicted sleeping babies.
Furthermore, the soother and glider both strongly stray away from the recommendations of the AAP. They have soft padding along the headrest and sidewalls so in the event an infant turns on their side or stomach, the padding can block their breathing. The infants are put at an incline which allows their head to drop forward toward the chest or shoulders. Since infants have little muscle tone to lift their heads or bodies, this position restricts the airway. The three-point harness of the inclined sleeper increases the risk of entanglement or prevents the baby from rolling over into a position where they can breathe.
Chairperson of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention Ben Hoffman, MD, said these products are dangerous because they are appealing to sleep-deprived parents who are looking for rest. “Parents who are desperate for sleep may be tempted to use a product that claims to put their baby to sleep easily, but they may not be aware that the product is unsafe,” he said.
“Loving parents put their babies in these products never expecting a tragedy,” said Acting CPSC chairman Bob Adler.
Chuck Scothon, senior vice president and general manager of Fisher-Price, said the company is committed to educating parents on how to safely use the products, including warning signs and instructions through its Safe Start campaign. “There is nothing more important to Fisher-Price than the safety of our products and the trust that families put in us,” he said.
Scothon will testify before the oversight committee on Monday, June 7 along with the chief executive officer of Mattel, Ynon Kreiz. This will be the first time executives will appear before Congress since recalled sleepers were recalled in April 2019.