The online marketplace eBay has agreed to ban all infant inclined sleepers from its website—including those that have not been recalled—based on information from Consumer Reports and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the agency that oversees more than 15,000 types of consumer products, including sleepers.
The company made the decision in response to a letter that CR sent last week to eBay and 14 other retailers, online marketplaces, and trade groups. The letter urged them to remove infant inclined sleepers—which position babies at an angle between 10 and 30 degrees—because the entire product category has proved to be unsafe and the products have been linked with a reported 73 infant deaths.
In its response to CR’s letter, eBay said that the company’s security team has begun enforcing the ban by targeting products CR has identified as particularly risky, including the Evenflo Pillo Portable Napper, the Baby Delight Go With Me Sway Portable Infant Rocker, and the Hiccapop DayDreamer. The products, which are marketed for sleeping or napping, position babies at an incline, which can cause a baby’s head to slump forward, chin to chest, and compress the airway, increasing the risk of suffocation. In addition, the products place babies on a rounded surface and are lined with soft bedding—all of which conflicts with the safe sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
CR’s ongoing investigation of infant inclined sleepers has already led to the recall of more than 5 million of the products, including the Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleeper and Kids II rocking sleepers. But several brands of infant inclined sleepers remain on the market, despite warnings from experts.
The AAP has advised caregivers to avoid using any type of infant inclined sleeper, as have consumer safety organizations, including Kids In Danger and the Consumer Federation of America. The CPSC also recently cautioned consumers not to use these sleepers and voted to move forward with a proposed rule to prohibit inclined sleepers, based in part on a recent study commissioned by the agency that found the products were unsafe for infant sleep.
Any new rules issued by the CPSC, however, would not go into effect for several more months. In the meantime, “eBay’s ban of infant inclined sleepers will help save lives and prevent tragedies worldwide,” says William Wallace, CR’s manager of home and safety policy. “Every retailer and online platform should follow eBay’s lead.”
Other retailers and online marketplaces that CR contacted include Albee Baby, Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond, Buy Buy Baby, Craigslist, Facebook, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Magic Beans, Target, Walmart, and You Are My Everything.
You Are My Everything, like eBay, told CR that the company would no longer stock infant inclined sleepers or sell the products on its website. Other companies have yet to respond.
“These companies also should publicly support the CPSC’s new proposed rules, which would take the guesswork out of whether infant sleep products are safe or not,” says Oriene Shin, CR’s policy counsel for home and product safety. “Many of these products today are marketed for napping, resting, or snoozing, or otherwise indicate they are safe for some kinds of sleep but not others,” she says. “Infants are vulnerable when sleeping in inclined products, regardless of how long they sleep, and it is wrong to imply that they’re safe for this purpose.”
Indeed, babies have died after being placed in infant inclined sleepers for less than 15 minutes, according to CR’s review of dozens of incident reports and conversations with many of the families.
The bottom line: The AAP recommends that babies should be put to bed alone, on a firm, flat surface with no extra bedding or bumpers. All infant inclined sleep products and accessories run counter to that advice.