First-time parents face a steep learning curve. No matter how much prep work you did, how many classes you took, and how many times you stayed up late poring over Dr. Spock’s greatest hits, nothing quite prepares you for the enormity of your new responsibility. So much leads up to the birth day that, when the dust settles, many first time parents suddenly find themselves at home with another set of eyes in the room, everyone looking at each other a trifle uneasily, as if to say – now what?
New parents face an onslaught of advice and information from all sides – some good, some bad, all with good intentions. Part of the job of your healthcare providers is to ensure that you and your growing family leave the hospital knowing how to keep your vulnerable newborn safe and healthy. While proper preparation can help prevent poor performance, taking care of a newborn is not a matter of simple mechanics.
One of the most important pieces of information about newborns concerns sleep. Infants have a lot going on; they are seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling and sensing all sorts of new stimuli from their environment. Their bodies are growing and their brains are developing as fast as they ever will. All of that processing and growing takes a lot of energy, and as a consequence of this, newborns sleep – a lot.
You deserve to have peace of mind that the products you buy and use to help your baby sleep comfortably are both safe and secure. This is why the recent recall by the Boppy Company of more than 3 million “loungers” for the risk the product posed to newborns is especially devastating. This is a company and a product that millions of parents trusted.
Watch out for these Boppy products
The products in question are plush, pillow-like cushions. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Boppy offers a full line of products, variously marketed as “Boppy Original Newborn Loungers,” “Boppy Preferred Newborn Loungers” and “Pottery Barn Kids Boppy Newborn Loungers.” Similar products that are still on the market describe the products as “a cozy place for your baby to lounge, relax, and play” with a shape “which mimics the closeness of the womb” that make “a great gift for baby showers!” The Boppy recall came after eight infants suffocated and died while using their product.
Those are eight families that suffered the loss of a newborn, and eight individuals who were deprived of the possibilities of a life never lived. Eight sets of parents now have to live with the death of a newborn child and the guilt, remorse, and blame that comes with such a devastating consequence. While newborn deaths are always a tragedy, there is generally no straightforward path to blame or resolution. More often, a number of different factors contribute to this disastrous outcome.
Is there a “right” way for infants to sleep?
It may not be obvious (especially to first-time parents) that there is a right and wrong way for new babies to sleep, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Safe Sleep for Babies reports that “There are about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among US babies each year,” and recommends the following tips for sleep safety:
- Place your baby on his or her back for all sleep times – naps and at night.
- Use a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib.
- Keep soft bedding such as blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and soft toys out of baby’s sleep area.
- Have baby share your room, not your bed.
Back sleeping recommendations were instituted by the CDC in the 1990s and dramatically reduced the number of baby deaths in that decade. Since then, however, the decline in sleep-related deaths has slowed and the numbers have, unfortunately, remained steady.
What kind of claim can I file if my child was hurt while using a Boppy?
Boppy is self-described as “Leveraging decades of experience and listening to parents, caregivers, and health care professionals, Boppy supports all momkind from pregnancy through the first year of baby’s life with versatile, easy-to-use products.” The company has, over time, created the illusion of expertise, authority, and trust as a “family company” that knows best. Indeed, on the company page devoted to the lounger recall, Boppy explicitly states, “Parents and caregivers should never add blankets, pillows, padded crib bumpers, or other items to an infant’s sleeping environment. Babies should always be placed to sleep on their backs.”
The case can be made that a company that leverages decades of experience and the advice of health professionals created, produced, and sold a product that directly contradicted the best practices outlined by the CDC, NSF and other health agencies. These defective products resulted in the deaths of eight newborns over the course of five years. As such, you may be able to file a product liability claim against the company if your child was hurt.
At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, our experienced Georgia product liability lawyers understand the complexities of product liability litigation. We make sure that your case gets the attention it deserves.
One of the nation’s top trial attorneys, Jeff Harris is an award-winning litigator who handles high-profile, complex cases across a wide variety of practice areas. He excels at securing justice for clients who have been seriously injured or killed, holding responsible parties accountable for their actions as well as their negligence.
Read more about Jeffrey R. Harris here.