New Congressional Report Holds Fisher Price Accountable For Ignoring Critical Warnings, Causing More Than 30 Deaths Linked To Infant Sleeper

June 09, 2021

Story by By Jaspreet Kaur

New findings show that Fisher Price failed to ensure its Rock 'n Play product safety and ignored the potential risks it could cause to infants' health and safety. The Rock 'n Play had been on the market for about 10 years and according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, has been linked to more than 30 infant deaths. The regulations of these products have not been the same as that of cradles and bassinets.  

By 2019, more than 4.7 million  Rock 'n Plays had already been sold. The new Congressional report holds Fisher-Price and its parent company, Mattel accountable for what health officials call a dangerous product for infants. Despite the availability of evidence which proves the serious harm Rock 'n Plays can cause, no efforts were made to put this product off the market. 

"This is outrageous, in my opinion it's criminal," House Oversight and Reform Chair Carolyn Maloney. "We have to take steps to make sure that this does not happen again." The Congressional report says, “Fisher-Price failed to ensure the Rock 'n Play was safe before bringing it to market" and "ignored critical warnings...that the product was dangerous..."  

Pediatricians say babies must sleep on a flat surface on their backs, but the Rock 'n Play sleeper puts infants at an angle of 30 degrees. Now the report finds when the product was launched in 2009, "there was no independent research, or even internal company research, showing that it was safe for babies to sleep at an angle."  Pediatric injury expert Dr. Ben Hoffman finds the revelation disturbing and comments, “the fact that there was no due diligence done in talking to experts, to even understanding what safe sleep was and how the inclined sleeper product operated completely counter to what we know safe sleep to be," according to CBS News. 

The report cites an incident from October 2012, when a mother reported to Fisher-Price that her 2-month-old son "had stopped breathing" in the sleeper. He was revived, but two months later, "Fisher-Price was notified that a 15-week-old infant died in the Rock 'n Play."  Mother Sara Thompson, whose 15-week-old son Alexander also died after napping in a Rock 'n Play in 2011, said the pain never goes away. "It's been 10 years and I still cry," Thompson said. Thompson said she contacted the Consumer Product Safety Commission — with no result. It wasn't until 2018 that CPSC staff counted 17 infant deaths and "became alarmed," according to the government report. 

Fisher-Price told reporters that they "disagree with significant parts" of the report's findings, according to CBS news. "The Rock 'n Play Sleeper was designed and developed following extensive research, medical advice, safety analysis, and more than a year of testing and review. It met or exceeded all applicable regulatory standards," the company said. 

The acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission says a provision in the law known as section 6B "undermines the agency's ability to warn consumers about dangerous products," and that it needs to be repealed.