House Passes Two Bills Promoting Safer Children's Products

Lawmakers approved the STURDY Act, to prevent furniture tip-overs, and the Safe Sleep for Babies Act, to ban inclined sleepers and crib bumper pads

Recalled Ikea Malm dresser and and a recalled Fisher Price Rock n' Play sleeper
A recalled Ikea Malm dresser (left) and a recalled Kids II rocking inclined sleeper.
Photo: CPSC, Consumer Reports

UPDATE: On November 18, 2021, a group of senators, from both parties, introduced the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) Act in the U.S. Senate. The bill would direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to create and finalize a mandatory stability standard to help prevent tip-overs, which have been linked with thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities. The legislation also encourages furniture manufacturers to make design innovations that would enhance the safety of dressers and other clothing storage units.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on June 23, 2021 to pass two bills that would prevent injuries and deaths linked to furniture tip-overs and infant sleep products. Both bills passed with broad bipartisan support.

The first bill, called the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) Act, would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which oversees thousands of consumer products, to create a mandatory federal rule that would ensure furniture stability. Right now, there are only voluntary safety standards for furniture, which many consumer advocates say are too weak and ineffective at preventing tip-overs in real-world scenarios.

The STURDY Act would require manufacturers to pass more rigorous furniture stability tests before putting their products on the market. That is likely to decrease the incidence of furniture tip-overs, which have been tied to hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries over the past two decades.

Between 2000 and 2019, 451 children were killed when a piece of furniture or a television fell onto them, according to CPSC data. And from 2017 through 2019, 11,300 children per year, on average, were treated in hospital emergency rooms for tip-over-related injuries.

More on Safe Children's Products

“The House today approved the STURDY Act with bipartisan support,” says Gabe Knight, a policy analyst at Consumer Reports. “Now it’s time for the Senate. This lifesaving bill has the support of parents, pediatricians, safety advocates, and even major companies in the furniture industry. Every senator should stand with American families to help them keep their homes safe and their children protected from a furniture tip-over tragedy. There’s no time to waste.”

For Crystal Ellis, whose 2-year-old son Camden was killed by an Ikea dresser in 2014, the vote is a major step in the right direction, but she feels there is still work to do. 

“I am elated that we have continued bipartisan support in the House to keep children safe from the dangers of furniture tip-overs,” says Ellis, who is also a founding member of Parents Against Tip-Overs, a nonprofit group of parents whose children have died from furniture tip-overs. “With children continuing to die at the rate of about two fatalities per month due to tip-overs, lives absolutely depend on STURDY becoming law.”

The second bill passed today is the Safe Sleep for Babies Act, which would ban two dangerous infant sleep products: inclined sleepers and crib bumper pads, both of which are unsafe for infant sleep and together have been linked with more than 200 reported deaths.

The bill was prompted in part by a CR investigation that revealed dozens of deaths were tied to infant inclined sleepers, such as the Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleeper, which have been largely unregulated until now. The American Academy of Pediatrics has advised against using inclined sleepers and crib bumpers because they both increase the risk of suffocation and sleep-related infant death.

“Lawmakers today sent a clear message: Unsafe sleep products must be banned from the market,” says Oriene Shin, policy counsel at CR. “As the Senate takes up safe sleep legislation, we also urge every manufacturer and retailer to support the CPSC’s newly approved rule, which requires that all infant sleep products meet strong safety standards.”

The passage of the Safe Sleep for Babies Act is bittersweet for Erika Richter, whose 2-week-old daughter Emma died in a Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleeper in 2018. “ It is with great sadness and disappointment that the changes captured by the Safe Sleep bill were not made sooner. It cost too many lives, including the life of my daughter,” Richter says. But, she says, ”I am hopeful that bipartisan support for the legislation will continue and that this bill finally becomes law. I remain committed to seeing that through for my daughter and for all the innocent lives that need protection.”

The vote was praised in a statement from Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., as a “strong step toward protecting American families by keeping dangerous products off the market.”

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).