Inclined infant sleepers more dangerous than previously thought

In October, the Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC announced there had been 73 infant deaths reported that were tied to inclined sleepers. Now, Consumer Reports says there have been 19 additional fatalities, these related to the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. That brings the total number of deaths to at least 92.

Yet most of these products, which place infants at a 10- to 30-degree angle while sleeping, remain on the market. The CPSC and some lawmakers have proposed banning the products, but many manufacturers see no urgency to recall the products. That leaves them in homes and daycares across America.

What is the risk with an inclined infant sleeper?

The products seem safe enough to the untrained eye. They offer a place for infants to rest, mostly upright, so they can participate in family activities while awake. Yet when baby becomes sleepy, there is no need to move them out of their semi-upright chair; they can just fall asleep.

Unfortunately, the sleepers’ incline allows the infant’s head to slump forward unnaturally, which can cut off their airway. Since infants’ neck strength and muscle control are still weak, they can’t easily lift their heads out of this position. That can lead to suffocation. Additionally, the position can allow infants to roll over sooner than they would otherwise, and this can also lead to suffocation.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants are safest when they sleep alone on their backs, with no restraints, on a firm, flat surface. The bed should be free of padded bumpers or soft bedding, as these can also pose a suffocation risk.

Inclined infant sleepers, by contrast, are not flat or firm. They have restraint harnesses. Their head support and sidewalls are padded.

“The design of an inclined sleeper features a seat, so it’s not a flat surface like a mattress, and it naturally places the baby in a flexed hip position, close to a fetal tuck,” says an expert commissioned by the CPSC to identify hazards with these sleepers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CPSC urge caregivers to avoid using inclined sleepers.

Inclined sleepers still available on primary market, resale

According to Consumer Reports, several manufacturers have rebranded their inclined sleepers as “loungers,” simply removing the word “napper” or “sleeper.”

Many of these products remain available in stores and on the resale market, including:

  • Baby Delight Nestle Nook Portable Infant Lounger
  • Hiccapop DayDreamer Lounger
  • Inclined napper sold with the Graco Care Station Playard
  • Chicco Lullaby Dream Playard napper accessory

Avoid these and similar products. If your child has been injured, consider contacting an experienced product liability attorney.

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