Federal regulators and Fisher-Price recalled 4.7 million Rock 'N Play baby sleepers on Friday after the product was blamed for more than 30 infant deaths.
Parents should stop using the Rock 'N Play sleeper immediately, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said, and Fisher-Price is offering refunds. All models of the sleeper, which was first produced in 2009, are included in the recall.
Authorities had previously issued a warning about the Rock 'N Play, a popular product that promises to quickly soothe babies into naps or overnight sleep. On April 5, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Fisher-Price said they didn't believe the sleeper was dangerous if used correctly: before infants were 3 months old and could turn over on their own.
At that time, 10 deaths had been linked to the sleeper. Since then, that number has been updated to more than 30, and the commission has been working with Fisher-Price on an expedited recall, spokesperson Patty Davis told BuzzFeed News.
"The company has been very cooperative, first on the alert, and now on today's recall," she said.
On Tuesday, an analysis by Consumer Reports found at least 32 infants had died while using the sleeper, prompting the product-rating magazine's campaign for a recall. Some of the infants who died were younger than 3 months, the magazine reported.
But the Consumer Reports analysis was not the force behind the recall.
"Our investigation was underway well before that," Davis said.
The sleeper, which was a best-seller on Amazon with thousands of positive reviews from parents, turned fatal when infants were able to turn onto their side or stomach. Experts recommend strict sleeping standards for infants to prevent sudden deaths, including that they remain on their backs at all times.
Those standards also call for infants to sleep on flat surfaces; the Rock 'N Play sleeper is inclined, a feature that Fisher-Price had promoted as beneficial. That prompted a response on Tuesday from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which demanded the sleeper be recalled.
“We cannot put any more children’s lives at risk by keeping these dangerous products on the shelves,” Dr. Rachel Moon, chair of the academy's task force on sudden infant death syndrome, said in a statement. “The Rock ‘n Play inclined sleeper should be removed from the market immediately. It does not meet the AAP’s recommendations for a safe sleep environment for any baby. Infants should always sleep on their back, on a separate, flat and firm sleep surface without any bumpers or bedding.”
Despite the criticism from doctors and Consumer Reports, Fisher-Price continued to insist its product was safe.
"We continue to stand by the safety of the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, as it meets all applicable safety standards, including those of the international standards organization, known as ASTM International, and is certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association (JPMA)," the company said in a statement earlier this week.
On Friday, the general manager of Fisher-Price, Chuck Scothon, called the death of any child an "unimaginable tragedy," and added that safety was the company's highest priority.
"In recent days, questions have been raised about the Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper. We stand by the safety of our products," he said in a statement. "However, due to reported incidents in which the product was used contrary to the safety warnings and instructions, we have decided to conduct a voluntary recall of the Rock 'n Play Sleeper in partnership with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
"Fisher-Price has a long, proud tradition of prioritizing safety as our mission. We at Fisher-Price want parents around the world to know that we have every intention of continuing that tradition."
Customers seeking a recall can contact Fisher-Price online or call (866) 812-6518 for more information.