Imagine being a new parent in the throes of sleep deprivation and discovering a product that helps your baby fall asleep. Anyone with a baby can tell you how desperate they were for a good night’s rest, which is why infant loungers appeal to so many caregivers. The baby lounger market is worth millions of dollars, and the products — often adorned with charming patterns and designs — are popular among infant parents. But many have no idea of the hidden danger of infant loungers. At least 79 babies died because of infant loungers from 2010 to 2022, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. What’s causing these deaths, and how do we prevent them?
Infant Lounger Dangers
Infant loungers are cushioned pillows with a spot for babies to lie down. Brands like The Boppy Company, Snuggle Me Organic, and DockATot have soared in popularity in recent years, enlisting the help of social media influencers and digital advertisements to promote their products to expecting and new parents. The product descriptions of these loungers sometimes include a warning against using the products for sleep and only putting a baby in when they’re awake, but that hasn’t stopped the dozens of deaths that have occurred in the last 15 years.
What makes infant loungers so dangerous? Young babies can fall asleep without warning, and the design of these loungers makes it easy for an infant to suffocate. If a baby rolls over in a lounger, they’re at an increased risk of getting stuck in the fabric and choking. Also, an infant may fall asleep in a position that blocks their airway, making breathing difficult. Parents may not realize their child is in a precarious position until it is too late. Even if a baby is placed in a lounger awake, they can quickly drift off to sleep, immediately creating a dangerous situation. A parent may put their baby down with no idea that it could have devastating results.
The Federal Government Steps In
Last month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to move forward with requiring infant lounger manufacturers to redesign their products. CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. told NBC News that companies “have to make a product that’s safe as it will be foreseeably used, and that’s not what’s happening here.” The CPSC and The Boppy Company recalled an infant lounger in 2021 that has since been linked to 10 deaths. The product was pulled from stores and is no longer available. But even after the recall, the pillow is still for sale secondhand on websites like Facebook Marketplace.
If the CPSC mandate is implemented, infant lounger companies must overhaul their products. The loungers would need to be as firm as a crib mattress, significantly reducing the risk of suffocation. They would require companies to reduce the height of the lounger’s side walls, decreasing the risk of infant death. The products would also need more prominent warning labels cautioning against using the loungers for infant sleep. If the proposed rule is finalized, companies would have to redesign their products and likely pay millions of dollars. These changes could drastically reduce the chance of tragic incidents.
Do I Have A Product Liability Claim?
If your child suffered injuries while using an infant lounger, you might wonder whether you have legal recourse. Dangerous product lawsuits fall under product liability law, with four types of claims. Design defects occur when a product’s design is inherently flawed and dangerous, even when manufactured correctly. Manufacturing defects happen when a product’s design isn’t dangerous, but something goes wrong during production. When a manufacturer doesn’t alert the public to a product’s potential danger, it’s known as a “failure to warn” defect. And breach of warranty defects occur when a manufacturer makes promises about a product and doesn’t live up to them.
Every case is different, but many infant lounger cases will likely fall under design and failure to warn. Product liability is complex and has many intricacies, so it’s important to contact a dangerous and defective product lawyer if you think you may have a claim. While the potential redesign of infant loungers is a step in the right direction, it rings hollow for families who have lost children in preventable ways because of the products. The Louisiana product liability attorneys at Herman Herman Katz can help determine whether you have a product liability claim. We are experienced in product liability law and know how to stand up to manufacturers on behalf of our clients. Call us at 844-943-7626 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.