Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Rock ’n Glide Soother Recalled After Being Linked to 4 Deaths

The action comes days before a congressional hearing on the company's handling of infant sleepers

The Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soother, as shown on Amazon before it was recalled
The Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Rock ’n Glide Soother, as shown on Amazon before it was recalled. A similar product, the 2-in-1 Soothe ’n Play Glider, was also recalled.
Source: Amazon

Fisher-Price recalled about 120,000 of its 4-in-1 Rock ’n Glide Soothers today after the baby product was linked to at least four infant deaths, according to an announcement from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which oversees thousands of home goods.

The deaths, which occurred between April 2019 and February 2020, included an 11-week-old, two 2-month-olds, and a 4-month-old, according to the CPSC. One report in the CPSC’s public database noted that an infant was sleeping in the Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Rock ’n Glide Soother when “the baby turned on her side and the cushion in the soother restricted her breathing,” causing her to suffocate. Fisher-Price did not respond to the report in the government database.

Fisher-Price also recalled about 55,000 of its similar 2-in-1 Soothe ’n Play Gliders, though no deaths have been linked to that product. Both were sold online and in many stores for over $100.

Consumers who still have either soother in their home should immediately stop using the product and contact Fisher-Price for a full refund.

“There is nothing more important to Fisher-Price than the safety of our products and the trust that families put in us,” Chuck Scothon, senior vice president and general manager of Fisher-Price, said in a statement. “These incidents are indeed heart-breaking. We are committed to educating parents and caregivers on the safe use of all of our products, including the importance of following all warnings and instructions to ensure the health and safety of babies and children.”

The company also said it recently created a medical and scientific council and launched a Safe Start education campaign "focused on engaging parents and caregivers in important conversations about the safety, health, and development of babies and children.”

The situation is “appalling,” says William Wallace, manager of safety policy at Consumer Reports. “Fisher-Price kept selling inclined products that it marketed as a way to help get infants to sleep, even after it recalled the dangerous Rock ’n Play Sleeper,” he says, referring to another Fisher-Price product, which was recalled more than two years ago after an investigation by CR linking it to dozens of infant fatalities. "Now we’ve learned four babies died in the span of just 10 months in another product, causing unimaginable pain for their families. The behavior of Fisher-Price and its parent company, Mattel, yet again raises serious doubts about their commitment to safety."

The recall comes just two days after the CPSC voted to approve a final rule to require that all products intended or marketed for infant sleep meet established safety standards for sleep products. And on Monday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform is scheduled to hold a hearing investigating the dozens of deaths tied to the Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleeper, and how the company was allowed to keep the product on the market for a decade despite the risks it posed.

“The company never should have released these dangerous products to the public, and this appears to be part of a troubling pattern of Mattel selling products that pose serious risks to infants,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., the chairwoman of the house committee, in a statement. “The Oversight Committee has been investigating this issue for nearly two years, and next week the company’s CEO will testify before the Committee and explain why his company appears to have put profits over people.” 

Scothon will testify on Monday along with Mattel’s chief executive officer Ynon Kreiz, chief executive officer of Mattel. It will mark the first congressional appearance by company executives since the inclined sleepers were recalled in April 2019.

More on Safe Sleep

Consumer Reports warned caregivers to avoid the 4-in-1 Rock ’n Glide Soother for sleep in November 2019 because, like the Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleeper and other infant inclined sleepers, it does not align with long-standing safe sleep recommendations. CR’s president and chief executive officer, Marta Tellado, also wrote to Fisher-Price asking the company to recall the product. The company declined at the time, telling CR that the item was not an infant inclined sleep product and was “not marketed for overnight sleep.”

However, while the 4-in-1 Rock ’n Glide Soother isn’t called a “sleeper,” it has clearly been marketed for sleep. A recent online ad stated that “the Fisher-Price infant seat gives you the chance to do other things while your baby gets rocked to sleep” and that “the gliding and rocking motions along with the calming vibrations, gentle music and nature sounds can make putting your baby to sleep quick and simple.” Marketing images also showed babies sleeping in the product.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that babies should sleep alone, on their back, on a firm, flat, surface that is free of soft bedding and restraints. But the 4-in-1 Rock ’n Glide Soother and the 2-in-1 Soothe ’n Play Glider run counter to these guidelines. They have soft padding on their headrest and sidewalls that can block babies’ breathing if they turn over onto their side or stomach; they put babies at an incline, which can allow their heads to drop forward toward their chest or shoulders, constricting their airway; and they have a three-point harness, which can increase the risk of entanglement and prevent babies who roll over from moving to a position in which they can breathe freely.

Ben Hoffman, MD, chairperson of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, says products like these are particularly dangerous because they give sleep-deprived parents a false sense of security. “Parents who are desperate for sleep may be tempted to use a product that claims to put their baby to sleep easily, but they may not be aware that the product is unsafe,” he says.

Acting CPSC chairman Bob Adler agrees. "Loving parents put their babies in these products never expecting a tragedy," he said in a statement. "Inclined products, such as gliders, soothers, rockers and swings are not safe for infant sleep, due to the risk of suffocation.”

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Rachel Rabkin Peachman

I'm a science journalist turned investigative reporter on CR's Special Projects team. My job is to shed light on issues affecting people's health, safety, and well-being. I've dug deep into problems such as dangerous doctors, deadly children's products, and contamination in our food supply. Got a tip? Follow me on Twitter (@RachelPeachman).