Baby Matters, the company that makes Nap Nanny recliners, claims the product is safe when used as directed, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says the baby recliner is dangerous and is responsible for 5 infant deaths and numerous injuries.
In an unusual move, CPSC has teamed up with four major retailers who say they will recall the product themselves after Baby Matters refused to issue a voluntary recall.
Amazon.com, Buy Buy Baby, Diapers.com and Toys R Us/Babies R Us had already agreed earlier this month to stop selling the product. Now they are offering customers a chance to return the Nap Nanny.
CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson praised the companies.
The retailers were great. They were not obligated to carry out this recall, he said. It's estimated that 150,000 of the Nap Nanny have been purchased since the product came on the market in 2009. The recliners sell for around $125.00.
CPSC has been in negotiations with Baby Matters for a mandatory recall but the owner of the company and creator of the Nap Nanny, Leslie Gudel, says the product is safe.
In email, Gudel told ABC News, Baby Matters is disappointed to hear that four retailers have chosen to voluntarily recall the Nap Nanny. As I've said before, the loss of an infant is an unthinkable tragedy, and I am truly heartbroken for the families who have lost a child. But when the Nap Nanny has been used properly, no infant has ever suffered an injury requiring medical attention.
This isn't the first time the product has been recalled. The initial versions of the Nap Nanny were recalled and redesigned in 2010 after the first reported death. The sides were raised, additional warnings added, and an instructional video was added to the company's website.
CPSC says the Nap Nanny recliners have continued to cause infants to suffer injuries and deaths. The government agency believes the product contains design defects, as well as defects in the warnings and instructions.
It has taken the rare step of suing Baby Matters to force a recall. Even though the major retailers have intiated a recall of their own, because smaller privately owned stores continue to sell the Nap Nanny recliner, CPSC believes the recall is necessary. Since the 2010 recall, CPSC has received an additional 70 reports of children nearly falling out of the product.
The Nap Nanny website has posted a letter to consumers from Gudel discussing the lawsuit. Gudel writes, In July of this year we learned that an infant died in a crib in which a Nap Nanny Chill was present. Unfortunately, the baby was placed in the Nap Nanny without a cover and without being secured by the harness. The infant was found in the crib, outside the Nap Nanny, near loose blankets. The cause of death was Sudden Unexplained Infant Death with accidental asphyxia not excluded.
Upon learning the news of this incident, the CPSC reversed course and informed us that it deemed the Nap Nanny Chill unsafe because of what the Commission described as reasonably foreseeable use. In addition, the CPSC now says the warning labels are inadequate. These are the same warning labels the CPSC helped us write and approved two years ago. They are also claiming the harness is defective in that it's difficult to adjust the waist straps, making it less likely parents will use the harness. The changes to the harness on the Nap Nanny Chill were made at the urging of the CPSC two years ago.
Meantime, Gudel shut down her company because, she said, it couldn't afford to continue the fight with the CPSC. She continued to defend the product and told ABC News in her email, We look forward to presenting our case before a judge who will hear all of the facts.
The Nap Nanny is a portable baby recliner that is designed for sleep or play. It contains a deep seat made of foam and comes with a fitted fabric and a three point harness.
CPSC contends that the products pose a substantial risk of injury or death to infants. It is also urging consumers to return the Nap Nanny if they bought it from one of the retailers who are now voluntarily recalling the product.