Fisher-Price Sleeper Linked to Dozens of Infant Deaths Nationwide

Posted on December 17, 2019

James Weigand, Jr. had just put his baby son Tre down for a nap in his Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper. Like all parents of a 6-month old, James would have called it a small blessing to finally have the infant comfortably napping. James and tons of other parents of infants place their trust that the baby products they purchase are safe. However, just a short while after putting his son to sleep, Mr. Weigand would be forced to confront every parent’s worst nightmare – little Tre would be found dead inside his sleeper. To date, 32 infant deaths nationwide have been blamed on this unsafe product. We’ll explore how this event happened, ways to avoid similar tragedies, and what to do when this story describes your own horrific experience.


How can there be so many infant deaths?

Fisher-Price’s product marketing for their cribs, rockers, and other carriers shows images of peaceful, happy babies using their products as they are surrounded in safety and security. Almost all of the product listings on shows smiling, laughing, or peacefully- sleeping babies. Oddly, very few products shows any sort of parental observation of the infant. 


No one could argue the advertising team wasn’t successful – millions of Rock n’ Play Sleepers were sold over the last decade. Indeed, the baby business is BIG business. With a total valuation running near $11 billion, the baby market is a very lucrative one. Manufacturers like Fisher-Price, which is now an affiliated company of Mattel, produce millions of baby product units which are sold nationwide and around the globe. 


However successful they are, the 32 deaths that have been blamed on the Rock n’ Play seem quite at odds with the images of peace and tranquility the sleeper promised to parents.


Recall of Millions of Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play Units

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) issued a massive recall on April 12, 2019, of an estimated 4.7 million Fisher-Price’s Rock n’ Play sleeper products. The listed hazard in the recall notification is, “Infant fatalities have occurred in Rock ‘n Play Sleepers after the infants rolled from their back to their stomach or side while unrestrained, or under other circumstances.” 


The CSPC can list recalls in two ways – either as a publicly-announced voluntary recall from the manufacturer or through a mandatory recall issued by the Commission themselves. In the case of the Fisher-Price sleeper, both avenues were taken to protect the public. The CSPC will issue a recall when a product presents an “unreasonable risk of injury or death”.


Federal law prohibits someone from trying to sell products that have been the subject of a recall. While the Rock n’ Play sleeper is not listed among Fisher-Price’s current product offerings on their website, one can find many other types of rockers, sleepers, and bouncers such as the Kick n’ Play Musical Bouncer. With similar attributes to the Rock n’ Play, one can only hope that safety was more important than profits as families use this and the other sleepers available from Fisher-Price. A parent should never have to wonder if their infant will be safe while using a Fisher-Price product.


Helping to Avoid Tragedy with Your Sleeping Infant 

Infant deaths that occur in a baby’s sleep area, where the cause is not obvious before an investigation takes place, are categorized as sudden unexpected infant death (SUID). Around 3,500 infants (less than 1 years old) die in the U.S. each year. The more well-known SIDS – sudden infant death syndrome – is one such death classified under SUID. Accidental suffocation in a sleeping environment is also classified as a SUID and seems to be the cause of death with the 32 infants that died in their Fisher-Price Rock n’ Plays.


While no product can be absolutely safe and parents still need to be actively monitoring their infant, there are some tips recommended by the CDC for helping to decrease the chances of a terrible tragedy occurring while your child sleeps:


  • Always place an infant on their backs when napping or sleeping at night
  • A crib should have a firm flat mattress that’s approved by the CPSC
  • An infant should sleep or nap in the same room at least until 6 months of age and preferably up to their first birthday
  • Keep the sleep area free of any toys, blankets, pillows, etc.
  • Don’t let the infant get too hot – watch for sweating or signs of distress


The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends additional measures that can decrease the likelihood of an event like SIDS from occurring including pregnant mothers not smoking or being around smokers, not drinking or using drugs while pregnant, breastfeeding the baby, attending the child’s regular wellness visits, and using a pacifier at nap and bedtime.


What to Do When Your Infant is Hurt or Killed by an Unsafe Product

We cannot begin to describe the depth of pain we see on the faces of the parents walking through our doors whose baby was hurt or killed by an unsafe product. No parent should ever be forced to go through such tragedy. When an event happens that threatens to take away the solid ground from under your feet, our products liability team comes alongside you and your family to shoulder the burden of seeking the maximum amount of compensation available to you under the law. 


We know that there is never a “back to normal” after an event like this, but on top of grief, a family shouldn’t be forced to have to negotiate with insurance adjusters, medical billing departments, and all the other day-to-day decisions that have to be made. When you need to know your options, our team is ready to meet. Contact us anytime, day or night.

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