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Walmart and Buy Buy Baby are pulling all infant inclined sleeperseven those that have not yet been recalledfrom their store shelves and websites. The decision comes after Amazon, eBay, and two smaller retailersAlbee Baby and You Are My Everythingsaid earlier this week that they would also ban the products, which have been tied to at least 73 infant deaths.
The announcement follows a letter Consumer Reports sent last week to 15 major retailers, online marketplaces, and trade groups urging them to stop selling infant inclined sleepers, which position babies at an angle between 10 and 30 degrees.
In April, CR tied the Fisher-Price Rock n Play Sleeper and Kids II rocking sleepers to dozens of deaths, prompting the recall of about 5 million inclined sleepers. And a study commissioned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission recently concluded that the sleepers increase the risk of suffocation and are unsafe for infant sleep.
Based in part on those findings, the CPSC warned consumers not to use infant inclined sleepers and voted to move forward with a proposed rule to prohibit them. But it will take months for any proposed rule to take effect and in the meantime, several other infant inclined sleepers remain on the market.
Today, Acting Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission Robert Adler said in a statement: I applaud Amazon, Buy Buy Baby, eBay, and Walmart for their decision to help protect our most vulnerable population by removing infant inclined sleep products from their product listings Their actions will save childrens lives.
William Wallace, CRs manager of home and safety policy, noted that Theres now enormous momentum to get all infant inclined sleep products off the market entirely.
But the changes from major retailers wont eliminate the potentially hazardous products entirely, said Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel with Consumer Federation of America. Its a very important step that retailers are banning inclined sleepers but it doesnt solve the fact that manufacturers are still making these products, she said.
And several retailers and online marketplaces that CR contacted have not yet agreed to stop selling or listing infant inclined sleepers. They include Craigslist, Facebook, Kohls, Macys, Magic Beans, and Target.
Further, several manufacturers of infant inclined sleepers told CR today that they plan to continue to sell their products.
For example, a spokesperson for SUMR Brands said that while the company has no plans to make more of its SwaddleMe By Your Bed Sleeper, the company is not recalling the products. And a spokesperson for Baby Delight, said, We stand by the safety of all of our products. That includes its Baby Delight Go With Me Sway Portable Infant Rocker.
Other inclined sleepers still on the market include the hammock-shaped insert sold with Chicco's Lullaby Dream Playard and the Hiccapop DayDreamer. Neither company responded to a request for comments.
The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, an industry trade group, said it continues to support the sale of some inclined infant sleepers. There are many products with inclines that are essential for the protection and care of babies, a JPMA spokesperson said. She also referred CR to a previous statement, which said that the CPSC-commissioned study is insufficient to draw concrete conclusions on risks related to inclined sleepers, and we encourage additional research on this topic.
But experts emphasize that the evidence against all infant inclined sleepers is strong. And the American Academy of Pediatrics has warned caregivers not to use any of the products because they increase the risk of suffocation and run counter to established safe sleep guidelines. The AAP recommends that babies should be put to bed alone, on their backs, on a firm, flat surface, unrestrained and without any soft beddingand infant inclined sleepers go counter to that advice.
Whats Next for Inclined Sleepers?
While some manufacturers continue to sell the products, recent actions from regulators and retailers could signal the beginning of the end of this product category.
Manufacturers of baby products should be embarrassed, said Oriene Shin, CRs policy counsel for home and product safety. They missed their chance to take the lead on protecting infants from unsafe sleep environments, and now retailers and platforms are stepping up in their absence.
Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist in particular should follow suit, said Jan Hinson, a lawyer in Greenville, S.C. whose grandson almost died in a Rock n Play Sleeper but was found in time to be revived. The two popular secondhand online marketplaces still list recalled infant inclined sleepers for sale, as CR recently reported. And though it is illegal for stores or individuals to sell recalled products, the websites have not enforced that policy effectively.
When CR searched Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist at the end of October, we found hundreds of recalled products for sale.
Still, even if all major retailers remove the products, that wont fully eliminate the risk. While stopping sales gets the products off store shelves, we also need recalls to get them out of homes, said Nancy Cowles, executive director of KID.
It also may take government legislation to stop manufacturers from producing more infant inclined sleepers. Not only do manufacturers need to step up and recall their products, but Congress also needs to pass critical legislationnamely the Safe Sleep for Babies Actto ban these products, Weintraub of CFA says. All of those collective piecesfrom regulators, retailers, and manufacturerswill effectively solve the problem and protect infants from the hazards posed by inclined infant sleep products."
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