Following a spate of heartbreaking infant fatalities over a five-year period, The Boppy Company has finally recalled one of its most popular baby products that unbeknownst to many new parents was putting their infants at serious risk for asphyxiation.
On September 23, 2021, The Boppy Company issued a joint recall with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for about 3.3 million infant loungers after eight infants reportedly suffocated after they were placed on their back, side or stomach in these pillow-like products. The recall notice states that infants can suffocate if they “roll, move, or are placed on the lounger in a position that obstructs breathing, or roll off the lounger onto an external surface, such as an adult pillow or soft bedding that obstructs breathing.” All of the deaths occurred between December 2015 and June 2020.
The recalled loungers are: Boppy Original Newborn Lounger, Boppy Preferred Newborn Lounger and Pottery Barn Kids Boppy Newborn Lounger. The loungers measure 23 inches long, by 22 inches wide and 7 inches high and were made in a variety of colors. They were sold from January 2004 through September 2021 for between $30 and $44 at juvenile product stores and mass merchandisers nationwide and online, including Pottery Barn Kids, Target, Walmart and Amazon.
The recall notice instructs consumers to immediately stop using the recalled loungers and to contact The Boppy Company for a refund.
The recall comes 11 months after the CPSC warned parents about the risks of using pillow-like products, including infant loungers and nursing pillows, for infant sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be put to sleep on their backs, on a separate, flat and firm sleep surface without any bumpers, loose bedding or stuffed toys.
According to news reports, CPSC incident reports tying the Boppy loungers to fatalities suggest that babies can push off of the product’s padding and roll from their back to their stomach, causing their face to press against the lounger’s soft padding and their airflow to become blocked.
In one reported incident, a 2-month-old baby girl died after being found face-down on the lounger. The medical examiner determined that her cause of death was positional asphyxia. In another incident that highlights the risks of placing the lounger on an adult bed, a 3-month-old boy reportedly was found unresponsive lying on top of a Bobby lounger, with his head between and adult’s body and the lounger, which was folded in half.
In the face of the massive recall, The Boppy Company has attempted to take cover behind its product warning label and to blame the victims. The company put out a statement indicating that its lounger “was not marketed as an infant sleep product and includes warnings against unsupervised use.”
However, a simple internet search, even after the recalled loungers (and consumer reviews) were removed from many retailers’ websites in the wake of the recall, reveals that it should be well-known to The Boppy Company — and other infant lounger manufacturers — that their warnings that these products are not for infant sleep are clearly inadequate and are not getting through to parents and caregivers.
One parent gave the recalled Boppy Original Newborn Lounger a 5 out of 5-stars rating and gushed in a product review that their baby could “relax in and take a nap” in the lounger. Another reviewer described the product as a “bed,” and a third reviewer called it “bed boppy.”
In an online discussion about using the Boppy lounger for sleeping, one parent wrote that they started using the Boppy as their son’s sleeping method the day they brought him home from the hospital “because I was paranoid and didn’t want to put him in his crib.”
Although the recall notice applies only to infant loungers made by The Boppy Company, there are many other similar products presently in the marketplace.
Alan M. Feldman, a co-founding partner and product liability attorney at Feldman Shepherd, recommends contacting a product liability attorney as soon as possible if your child has been injured by an infant lounger.
Feldman said that all products should be safe for their intended as well as expected use. “It is well-known that babies spend much of their time sleeping. It is simply intolerable that The Boppy Company — or any manufacturer — would place a giant, unsafe, pillow-like product for babies into the marketplace and then attempt for years to hide behind an ineffective warning label that the product is not meant for infant sleep, when parents, clearly unaware of the risk, are using it for infant sleep,” Feldman said.
Feldman’s team at Feldman Shepherd, which includes partners Daniel J. Mann and Edward S. Goldis, have secured substantial recoveries on behalf of infants and young children who have been seriously injured or killed by children’s products, including baby slings, unstable furniture and magnetic toys. The team presently represents three families whose babies died from asphyxiation in inclined sleeping products.
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