A popular pillow-like baby product sold by The Boppy Company and Pottery Barn is being recalled after eight babies in five years accidentally suffocated in the devices, federal regulators announced Thursday.
The recalled products include the Boppy Original and Preferred newborn loungers and the Pottery Barn Kids Boppy newborn lounger. The fatalities presumably occurred after the babies – who were found on their sides or stomachs – fell asleep in the products, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The mandatory safety recall is notable because it illustrates growing alarm from regulators over the suffocation risks found in an expanding range of baby products.
The CPSC recently required all infant sleep products meet federal safety standards by the middle of 2022, closing loopholes that permitted some potentially dangerous sleep surfaces to be sold.
But the agency also is taking a harder look at the safety of other baby products not designed for sleep – any place where a baby might fall asleep that is not a stiff, flat surface.
The Boppy newborn lounger – like the company’s popular nursing pillow – is not designed for babies to sleep in.
The lounger is described as “the perfect place for baby to hang out during awake time when you need a hands-free moment,” according to the company’s website. The company has warned parents about the potential dangers: “Boppy products are created for adult-supervised awake-time only.”
Yet that was not enough to avoid the problem, according to regulators.
Because infants sleep so much of the time and suffocation can happen so quickly, “these Boppy lounger products are simply too risky to remain on the market,” CPSC acting chairman Robert Adler said in a statement.
About 3.3. million of the recalled loungers were sold nationwide at many popular retailers and online, according to the CPSC. Another 35,000 were sold in Canada. Details of how customers can seek refunds for the recalled products can be found at cpsc.gov and boppy.com.
The recall does not apply to Boppy’s nursing pillows, which are horseshoe-shaped devices made to support a baby’s head during feeding.
But regulators are continuing to probe potential safety problems with the nursing pillows because babies could fall asleep in them, too, according to a senior agency official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
The CPSC has previously questioned the safety of infant nursing devices. Last October, it issued a warning against allowing babies to sleep on nursing pillows. The notice indicated the agency was investigating potential ties between infant deaths and the products.
The new CPSC recall notice for infant loungers included a statement from Boppy saying it was “devastated to hear of these tragedies.”
“Boppy is committed to doing everything possible to safeguard babies, including communicating the safe use of our products to parents and caregivers, and educating the public about the importance of following all warnings and instructions and the risks associated with unsafe sleep practices for infants,” the company’s statement continued. “The lounger was not marketed as an infant sleep product and includes warnings against unsupervised use.”
A public database of product safety claims included several involving Boppy products.
One such report, submitted in August, came from an unnamed state’s child fatality review team that found a 1-month-old baby died from suffocation associated with a Boppy nursing pillow.