Children can bring extreme joy to the lives of their parents. And parents want nothing more than to ensure the safety of their child. Many parents will go to great lengths to make sure their children are safe.
Infant sleepers are inclined sleeper chairs for babies. They appear secure and comfortable for children to nap in while parents are nearby. However, recent research and data have shown that because babies’ heads are heavy and their necks are weak, the incline can cause children’s heads to fall forward, collapsing the airway. More than 100 babies have died in infant sleeper products from different manufacturers.
Infant Sleeper Recalls and Studies
In June 2021, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a recall of certain infant sleepers designed for children under five months old. Until CPSC made this recall notice, these infant sleeper products were unregulated. The CPSC specifically noted the fact that some babies could suffocate because of the incline of the infant sleeper products. The recalled products include infant sleepers from Fisher-Price, which recalled their product voluntarily.
Despite the recall, parents and child day care providers are still using these infant sleepers. This causes potentially grave consequences for children and parents.
The CPSC has also conducted research and commissioned studies on infant sleepers. They have made an overall and shocking conclusion that no infant sleepers are safe for infants. The research further stated that no infant sleeper that has more than a 10-degree incline should even be sold. The result of this study is that infant sleepers substantially increase the risk of infant injury or death.
For parents, this information should be startling. Many parents are surprised to learn that day care providers still commonly use these devices, despite the fact that there have been recalls and that there is compelling evidence showing that they are unsafe for babies.
But because these infant sleepers had not been regulated, these studies were not completed before the product coming to market and being sold to parents and day care providers who did not know of the potential dangers. Now that this information is available, however, parents have standing to demand that manufacturers take responsibility for these defective products.
Inclined sleepers for infants can cause serious injuries, including:
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Any injury to a child is tragic, especially one that may alter the course of their life. In the most heartbreaking situations, a child dies of their injuries caused by the infant sleeper.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has consistently recommended that infants under one year of age should sleep flat on their backs while on a flat and firm surface. Infant sleepers, however, incline babies up to a 30-degree angle. But because infant sleepers are not classified as a crib, they have historically not been regulated.
This can lead to a child suffering potentially deadly injury. Parents should be diligent to make sure that their children are being placed in safe sleeper products, both while at home and at day care facilities.
One of the best ways to prevent a child’s injury from a sleep-related product is to avoid using inclined infant sleepers altogether. But parents need to be even more diligent. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 3500 babies die unexpectedly every year while sleeping. These tragic deaths often occur from SIDS and suffocation.
For parents to keep their children safe while sleeping, there are certain steps that they can take. Parents should:
- Make sure babies sleep flat on their backs.
- Keep babies on a firm surface.
- Speak with day care providers to make sure they are not using infant inclined sleepers.
Parents also need to avoid certain actions such as placing a baby in a chair with no support or restraints. Children should also not be wrapped in blankets or left alone to fall asleep in a position in which they might topple over and block their airway.
Taking these steps and avoiding certain actions can help keep babies safe when they are most vulnerable and most reliant on their parents. Because babies lack the strength to pick themselves up from precarious positions, the use of poorly designed infant sleepers can have tragic consequences. Parents should avoid these products for their small children.
When a baby is injured or tragically dies while using an infant sleeper, the parents can file a products liability claim against the manufacturer of the infant sleeper. In a products liability claim, the parents would allege that the manufacturer sold them a defective product. It might seem obvious that if a baby dies or suffers injuries, the product was defective. But proving this from a legal standpoint requires four steps:
- The product was defective. To prove a product is defective, a person must show that the infant sleeper had a defect that made it unsafe to use. Research now suggests that the degree of the incline of the infant sleeper could be too much for a small baby, making the product defective.
- A child was injured or died. When a person can successfully show the infant sleeper was defective, they must then show their baby suffered injuries or died. This step is not complicated, as it simply requires a showing of evidence that a baby was injured or lost their life.
- The defective product caused the injury or death. This, however, is the more complicated step. Once a person shows the infant sleeper had a defect and that injury or death resulted, they must show that the defective product directly caused the baby’s injuries or death. This frequently comes from medical records and expert testimony.
- The product was used correctly. A person can be barred from making a recovery under a products liability claim if they did not use the product as the manufacturer intended. To be successful, a parent will need to show that they read the instructions and used the infant sleeper correctly and as intended by the manufacturer.
Once a parent can successfully prove the four elements of a products liability claim, they and their lawyer then get to work on trying to collect compensation for their loss. Whether a child suffers injuries or is tragically killed while using an infant sleeper, no amount of money will undo the pain and suffering the parents endure. But collecting money from the manufacturer of the defective product can help ensure that the parents have the financial support they need to cover the expenses related to their child’s injury or death.
A lawyer may try to get money for:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Medical bills
- Funeral costs
- Burial expenses
The tragic and untimely loss of a child never goes away. As many parents who have lost their babies because of defective infant sleepers show, not a single day goes by without them thinking about their baby and the life they missed.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Victims of Defective Products Recover
When you buy any product, especially one designed to keep your child safe, you expect that product to work as advertised. If it does not, it could cause your child serious harm and injury. An infant sleeper that does not work as intended could result in your child suffering dearly. The Philadelphia products liability lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC will assist you to help your child get better without you having to worry about how to cover the costly medical expenses, or to help you recover from the loss of your baby. Call us today at 215-569-8488 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.