The mother of a two-week-old baby girl who died while sleeping in a Fisher-Price chair has called it “tragic” that it took a year to recall the product that a report has linked to dozens of deaths.
Erika Richter said she is finally speaking out so that no parent has to go through what she did after her two-week-old daughter died while using the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper in 2018.
Ms Richter appeared at a congressional hearing on Monday following a report which found 50 infant deaths were linked to the sleeper before it was recalled in 2019.
Fisher-Price has denied the claims made in the report and rejects the assertion that its product “caused or contributed to any death or bodily injury”.
The 20-month investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform alleged that the major American toy company failed to consult paediatricians before releasing the product in the market and even ignored warnings by international regulators, paediatricians and customers.
Video testimony from Ms Richter was played during the hearing in which she held her baby’s clothes and said: “Now this is all I have left to remember my daughter. Her outfit from the hospital that still smells like her.
“We trusted a name brand, and we were wrong,” Ms Richter said.
Speaking to Good Morning America, Ms Richter said when she got the sleeper she never thought it would be unsafe given it was a Fisher-Price product and so many parents were raving about it.
“I think about her all the time. I think about what life would be like with her still around. She would be 3 years old,” she said. “When I see children, I think about her all the time, because I just never expected life to be like this.”
She said she only linked Emma’s death to the sleeper when she saw other reports of infant deaths associated with the particular product.
According to an analysis by Consumer Reports before the product was recalled in 2019, most of the children who died were younger than 3 months old.
“Fisher-Price’s poor safety practices and lack of meaningful oversight allowed the Rock ‘n Play to stay on the US market for a total of 10 years, during which time more than 50 infants died using the product—while the company raked in at least $200m in revenue,” the report by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform said.
The sleeper allowed infants to sleep at a 30-degree incline position but posed a risk to infants who could roll over and suffocate, the report said.
The report noted that Fisher-Price was aware of eight incidents in which infants using the Rock ‘n Play “stopped breathing, turned colour, or exhibited some kind of distress.”
But Fisher-Price disputed that the product was defective or hazardous. “Fisher-Price denies that this information in any way supports the contention that the product caused or contributed to any death or bodily injury,” the company said in a statement to the committee.
The company’s spokesperson also disputed the oversight report’s claims, saying Rock ‘n Play was designed and developed “following extensive research, medical advice, safety analysis, and more than a year of testing and review,” reported NBC.
Fisher-Price told ABC News said their “hearts go out to every family who has suffered a loss” and that the safety of its products was its top priority.
It added that the “Rock ‘n Play Sleeper was designed and developed following extensive research, medical advice, safety analysis and more than a year of testing and review.”
“It met or exceeded all applicable regulatory standards. As recently as 2017, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) proposed to adopt the ASTM voluntary standard for a 30-degree angled inclined sleeper as federal law.”
Last week, Fisher-Price recalled two more products, including 2-in-1 Soothe ‘n Play Glider and the 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soother. It was after four infants allegedly died while using the soother, while no deaths were linked to the glider.