When Fisher-Price developed the Rock ‘n Play sleeper in 2009 it seemed revolutionary. The device promised to lull babies to sleep in a recliner at a 30-degree angle, allowing baby to “sleep at a comfortable incline all night long.” There was no other product on the market that safely did that. For the next 10 years, Fisher-Price sold 4.7 million of the sleepers.
What Fisher-Price didn’t do until eight years later was consult with a pediatrician to evaluate whether the sleeper was actually safe. And Fisher-Price only did that after the company was slapped with a lawsuit.
“That’s shocking,” Nancy Cowles of the consumer advocacy group Kids in Danger told the Washington Post. “It would never cross anyone’s mind that it wasn’t tested for safety.”
In April, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) issued a warning to consumers that Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play sleepers had been linked to 10 deaths since 2015, and cautioned parents and caregivers not to put infants older than 3 months of age or infants unrestrained in the sleepers because the babies could roll over and fall out of the sleeper. (Babies generally begin rolling over at around 3 months of age.)
Despite the warning and reports of infant injuries and deaths including asphyxiation, twisted neck syndrome and flat head syndrome connected to the sleepers, Fisher-Price refused to recall its sleepers until a Consumer Reports analysis linked the Rock ‘n Play sleepers to 32 infant deaths from 2011 to 2018. Shortly after Fisher-Price recalled the sleepers, CPSC announced retailer Kids II was recalling nearly 700,000 of its similar rocking sleepers sold in the U.S. since 2012 because five infants had died in the sleepers in the past seven years.
At least two putative class action lawsuits have been filed against Fisher-Price and its parent company Mattel Inc.