Inclined Infant Sleepers Banned

Inclined infant sleepers gained popularity after Fisher-Price introduced the Rock ‘n Play in 2009. The sleeper was praised for helping infants sleep faster and longer due to its “nest-like” comfort, the inclined resting position, and the automatic rocking feature. However, the Rock ‘n Play and similar inclined infant sleepers came under scrutiny after reports of infant deaths while using the sleepers. The Rock ‘n Play recall was massive, pulling nearly 5 million dangerous sleepers off the market after being tied to over 70 infant deaths. Recent legislative developments have raised the bar for safety to prevent inclined infant sleepers from being manufactured or sold in the United States.

Recall

Due to the severe nature of the recall and the number of unaccounted-for inclined infant sleepers in the marketplace, President Joe Biden signed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act of 2021 (SSBA) into law in May 2022. The law bans the manufacture and sale of inclined sleepers and crib bumpers. More specifically, the law defines banned inclined sleepers as products designed for infants up to one-year-old with “an inclined sleep surface of greater than 10 degrees.” Also banned for risk of suffocation, crib bumpers were defined as “padded materials inserted around the inside of a crib and intended to prevent the crib occupant from becoming trapped in any part of the crib’s openings.”

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PPC for Legal

The rules of the SSBA went into effect November 12, 2022, but the 2023 CPSC Final Rules provide clarification for the implementation of the SSBA. The final rule, 16 CFR 1310, details the specific terms for banned products (clarifying inclined sleepers are any with a greater than 10-degree sleep surface incline).

The SSBA prohibits the sale of inclined sleepers and crib bumpers, as well as the manufacture, sale, distribution, and importation into the United States. Further efforts by the CPSC since the SSBA came into effect last year include conducting a comprehensive outreach effort to manufacturers, importers, and sellers to enforce the new law. The CPSC is educating them about the requirements and ensuring awareness and understanding of compliance obligations. The CPSC standard for safe infant sleep products also includes more stringent components. It requires any infant sleep products that did not already meet the requirements of an existing CPSC sleep standard must be tested to confirm that the angle of the sleep surface is 10 degrees or lower and that they comply with the agency’s safety standard for bassinets and cradles.

Though the SSBA specifically speaks to inclined infant sleepers (designed with the intent of sleeping), it’s essential to place the purpose behind the rule in the context of other infant products that – though not intended for sleeping – are often used for sleeping. The CPSC rules also advised parents not to let babies sleep in strollers, car seats, or swings. Infants frequently fall asleep in their car seats.

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Dram Shop Experts

Advice for Parents

Parents should not use or purchase inclined infant sleepers, including those found at secondhand shops or online used marketplaces because they have likely been recalled and are unsafe for sleep. Parents are generally advised not to allow infants to sleep unsupervised in products not approved for sleep, such as loungers, pillows, positioners, and car seats.

Many corporations made significant profits from selling millions of dangerously inclined sleepers in the United States. From my experience prosecuting companies for manufacturing defective infant products, it is my opinion that they were likely aware of the risks for some time before the recall. Unfortunately, many injuries could have been prevented.

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