Rise in Unsafe Baby Products: A Cause for Concern

Unsafe baby products continue to flood the market despite CPSC's efforts. Here's what you can do about it.

The Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play Conundrum

While preparing for her third child in 2020, Jalan Burton, M.D., MPH, CLS, retrieved her baby gear and discovered the Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play sleeper had been recalled by the American government. She last used the apparatus during her son's infancy and was dismayed to find it linked to multiple infant fatalities.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) initiated the first recall in 2019 after 30 babies perished owing to their rolling from back to stomach or side unrestrained. Four years later, the agency issued the recall once again post an estimated 70 deaths and instructed retailers and the general public about the illegality of selling or distributing the recalled sleepers.

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Infant Deaths Linked To E-Commerce

Despite ample warnings and recalls, the CPSC's safety advisories seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Unsafe baby products, such as the Rock 'n Play, Boppy Newborn lounger, and DockATot Deluxe+ pillow, continue to surface on e-commerce platforms and are purchased by unsuspecting families.

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Many were stunned to find recalled items like strollers, swings, and monitors in their own homes. The key question is why this danger persists and what parents can do to ensure that all children remain safe.

Frequently Recalled Baby Products due to Safety Concerns

The CPSC, responsible for protecting the public against hazardous products, issues over 300 recalls for millions of defective or dangerous items each year. The majority of these recalls happen post the product's release into the market. Judy Echavez, a spokesperson for the CPSC, states that although CPSC lacks pre-market approval authority over consumer products, it requires all children's products and toys to undergo testing by an accredited third party.

The onus is on the manufacturer to adhere to safety standards, whether during product creation or while importing items to the U.S. Herein lies the problem—any omissions in safety considerations mean that recalls are only issued once numerous unsafe units enter nurseries, playrooms, and daycares.

The Persistence of Unsafe Baby Products

Children's products constituted 34 percent of all recalls in the previous year. Persuading consumers to return or dispose of recalled products can be challenging. Echavez emphasizes that the quick removal of items from store shelves makes recalls more effective and increases consumer safety.

The Solution: How to Address the Issue of Unsafe Baby Products

Manufacturers, resale sites, regulators, and, of course, parents need to play a more active role in keeping harmful baby products out of homes. Manufacturers need to improve their messaging about product recalls. Pediatricians and parents can help disseminate information about the recalls. It is essential to stay informed about recalls as it can save lives and protect the most vulnerable members of our community.

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