New Safety Rules for Baby Rockers — What Parents Need to Know

The new rules aim to reduce the risk of suffocation and accidents related to these popular items.

By: Amanda Mushro

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young mother plays in the living room on the floor with her little baby

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young mother plays in the living room on the floor with her little baby

Photo by: ReMa

ReMa

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued strong recommendations for rockers designed for infants. These rockers are popular products that are often purchased by parents and caregivers to help soothe their babies. However, the rockers were linked to 11 deaths, 88 injuries, and 1,088 incidents from 2011 to 2022.

Infant rockers are designed with reclined seats and use a rocking motion that helps soothe fussy babies. The speed of the rocking motion is often adjustable and can be set to a timer or rocked manually. Often, these rockers will vibrate and play calming sounds or music. The CPSC says 567,500 rockers are sold every year.

While the product instructions say that babies should only use the rockers while under the supervision of an adult and that babies should not be left in the rocker for long periods of time, this is not how parents and caregivers often use the rockers. Parents have reported that their children sometimes take naps in the rockers or their babies sleep in the rockers overnight. Because of the reclined seat and motion of the rocker, babies are often lulled to sleep quickly while in the rocker.

However, if left unattended, babies can suffocate if they fall asleep and slouch down in the seat or turn their head into the cushion and padding around them. If the baby is placed in the rocker with extra blankets, the soft bedding poses a suffocation risk. Also, the rockers can tip or fall over if not placed on a completely flat surface, causing harm to the baby. According to the CPSC, many of the reported injuries were head injuries from the rockers tipping over with the baby inside.

To keep babies safe while using these rockers, the CPSC has proposed the following safety guidelines:

  • Infant rockers should be firmer and flatter to prevent suffocation.
  • Rockers need to pass stability tests.
  • To prevent strangulation, the length of hanging straps should be set.
  • Every rocker should feature prominent warning labels to discourage their use for sleeping and warn against adding bedding and blankets.

"I believe that this rule can have a real impact on the safety of these products," says CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric.

These safety rules would be instated on all infant rockers as well as infant and toddler rockers, and any "multi-mode products with a rocker mode." Rockers with distinct inclined sleepers like the Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play, were recalled in 2019 and have been reportedly linked to about 100 deaths.

Unfortunately, the only current standard requirements for infant rockers are strap security, stability, slip resistance, a drop test, and the presence of a secure toy bar system. Currently, the companies that make the rockers are not required to include warnings about possible injuries or death on the rockers.

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