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Asleep But Not Sound: Several Baby Deaths Linked To Sleep In This Rocker

As many as 32 babies have died while sleeping in a popular rocking product, and Australian authorities are echoing their American counterparts in demanding the product be kept away from children.

The Australian consumer watchdog has warned parents to keep a Fisher-Price sleeper "out of reach of children" following reports it has been linked with at least 10 infant deaths in the US since 2015.

On Tuesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for a recall of the Rock ’N Play, telling parents to stop using it “immediately.”

“This product is deadly and should be recalled immediately,” Dr Kyle Yasuda, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics  said in a statement.

However, there’s disagreement over the number of deaths the product has caused.

Last week manufacturer Fisher-Price and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission notified parents using any Rock 'n Play product that there have been 10 deaths reported since 2015.

IMAGE: Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play

But an investigation  by a safety not-for-profit organisation found the sleeper was linked to at least 32 infant deaths since its introduction in 2009.

The babies -- who were older than 3 months old -- all died after rolling over while in the Rock 'n Play sleeper.

The product is available in Australia including Target, and a range of online baby retailers.

An Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) spokesperson said they were not aware of any deaths of babies using the sleeper in Australia.

"We understand that Mattel has not shipped the Fisher Price Rock ’n Play to Australian retailers since 2012."

“The ACCC urges parents with this product to keep it out of reach of children. We are always concerned by reports such as those we are seeing from the US,” a spokesperson said.

Safety experts say children should not be left unsupervised or left to sleep in a rocker

"While the US product safety regulator has warned that consumers should stop using this product by 3 months of age or as soon as the infant exhibits rollover capabilities, the ACCC recommends that consumers consider using alternative products until we complete our investigation into the safety of this product," a spokesperson told 10 daily.

Rockers and bouncers are chairs that are designed to allow a baby to either bounce or rock in an inclined position, said Red Nose Chief Midwife Jane Wiggill.

Red Nose is a charity that aims to eradicate sudden  infant death syndrome (SIDS).

READ MORE: Some Of The Most Expensive Child Seats Found To Be The Least Safe

READ MORE: Health Authorities Warn Parents Against Use Of Baby Walkers And Exercise Jumpers

“When a baby falls asleep in a propped up device such as a rocker, their head can fall forwards, pushing the chin down towards the chest,” Wiggill said.

Wiggill said these products keep a baby in an incline position, which can lead to a baby’s airway becoming blocked and reducing airflow.

“Babies are also at risk of rolling on to their tummy or side in a rocker, or becoming trapped, which is a suffocation risk."

While parents and carers should always heed the safety warnings and instructions when using rockers and bouncers, Red Nose recommends only using them for supervised play time.

“These are just some of the reasons why Red Nose’s evidence-based recommendations are to always sleep your baby on their back, in a safe cot, and on a firm and flat surface.”

Despite these numbers, the product has not been recalled by Fisher-Price, part of the children’s products giant Mattel, which generated more than $6 billion in sales in 2018.

IMAGE: Fisher-Price released this statement on its Facebook page

Fisher-Price said it stands by the product and its safety.

"The Rock 'n Play Sleeper meets all applicable safety standards, including those of the international standards organization, known as ASTM International, and is certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA)."

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au