Popular Baby Loungers Linked to at Least 26 Deaths

Federal officials chose to target individual manufacturers rather than impose large-scale regulations

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Tired parents across the U.S. have turned to cushiony baby loungers since 2015 as a way to calm their infant. But to the horror of several parents, a number of babies suffocated in the loungers.

Federal officials became deeply concerned with the number of babies dying after being placed on one of these loungers, and issued a warning in September 2021 telling parents to stop using it immediately, as reported by NBC News.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled 3 million Boppy Newborn Loungers after it was linked to the deaths of eight babies.

But the Boppy loungers were not the only problem. The CPSC was concerned about the risks of other brands as well.

NBC News found that at least 26 babies have died in incidents linked to loungers from December 2015 through September 2021. Suffocation, asphyxiation or loss of oxygen were listed as the cause of death on several of the incident reports, and seven lawsuits have accused the loungers of causing the child’s death.

CPSC members wanted to take the recall a step further in 2021, and planned to consider regulating other infant loungers.

But the day after the recall was announced, the two Republican commissioners — who held the majority at the time — blocked the large-scale action and instead approved an annual operating plan that removed the proposal for regulating infant pillows.

Loungers have escaped regulation for the most part in the past since they are meant to be a place for babies who are awake.

However, newborns can fall asleep at any time, and NBC News noted that social media used many photos of babies asleep in the loungers, despite recommendation that babies should be awake while using them.

CPSC took an unsystematic approach to addressing the lounger concerns in place of a hard rule, commissioning a research study on infant pillows (including infant loungers and nursing pillows), developing voluntary safety standards with those in the industry and enforced action against individual manufacturers.

Democratic CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr., who joined the commission in December 2021, told NBC News the delay was a “grave error,” while Republican Commissioner Peter Feldman said that the agency “simply had not yet laid the required groundwork” and was doing its best to avoid shortcuts.

The other Republican commissioner at the time, Dana Baiocco, declined to comment when contacted by NBC News.

Last summer, President Joe Biden was able to successfully appoint two Democratic commissioners to CPSC. Regulations for the loungers have been added to CPSC’s 2023 operating plan, although many of the loungers still remain in stores.

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