1 in 10 surveyed day cares still using deadly, recalled infant sleepers

PennPIRG Education Fund

PHILADELPHIA — Three months after nearly 5.4 million infant sleepers were recalled for causing 36 infant deaths, a new survey by the PennPublic Interest Research Group Education (PennPIRG) and Kids in Danger (KID) revealed that many child care facilities continue to use these dangerous inclined sleepers. The survey began after PIRG Consumer Watchdog Adam Garber discovered that his own son’s daycare in Philadelphia was using the recalled products.

“Every day, millions of parents drop their kids off, assuming their daycares have the information they need to keep their kids safe,” said Garber. “This failed recall is a wakeup call that our current system leaves too many infants at risk from these dangerous sleepers.”

PennPIRG and KID blamed the situation on confusing messages about the recall. Initially, a consumer warning for the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play on April 5th linked deaths to infant rollovers, leading some parents and facilities to conclude that proper use would keep babies safe. But a more complete analysis revealed some deaths occurred when the child was buckled in, leading the company and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to fully recall the 4.7 million Rock ‘n Play sleepers soon after on April 12. On April 26, nearly 700,000 units of the Kids II Rocking Sleeper were recalled.

The current recall system relies on parents and daycare centers seeking out information or seeing recall notices in media, rather than direct notice from the recalling company – although companies could easily find lists of child care facilities just like PennPIRG and KID did, or directly notify parents. All these issues may explain why Mattel is predicting only a small percentage of Rock ‘n Plays will be returned.

”Announcing a recall does little to keep children safe if companies don’t make efforts to reach the users of their faulty products,” stated Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger. “Laws to prohibit the use of recalled products in child care is a good first step, but an effective recall depends on companies taking aggressive action to reach all users of their products and encouragement to participate in the recall.”

Some states, including Wisconsin, Texas and Washington, have laws requiring removal of any recalled product from a child care facility. But the survey found that child care facilities in some of those states continued to use these recalled sleepers. 

PennPIRG and KID recommend the following policy solutions:

  • The CPSC should work with recalling companies to include child care facilities in any corrective action plans for toys and nursery products. In addition, the CPSC must work with state agencies to ensure that all child care facilities are automatically notified of recalled children’s products and have instructions on how to participate in the recall.
  • Mattel and Kids II should redouble their efforts to reach any known users of these deadly sleepers and encourage participation in the recall.  
  • States should pass legislation or institute rules banning the use of recalled products in child care facilities and provide a robust process to get information to each provider and ensure compliance. 

“If companies are going to collect so much private information on consumers for marketing purposes, they should at least use it for some good by directly warning parents and child care providers, and other consumers, about dangerous products they recalled,” concluded Garber.