Parents Should Stop Using Leachco Podster Baby Loungers After Reports of 2 Deaths, Government Warns

 The company refuses to recall the products despite reports of fatal incidents

Recalled Leachco Lounger
The Leachco Podster Baby Lounger.
Photo: John Walsh/Consumer Reports

Update: On February 9th, 2022, the Consumer Product Safety Commission sued Leachco, the manufacturer of Podster loungers, after the company refused to recall the products. The suit asks that the company be ordered to notify all consumers who have the product that it poses a suffocation hazard and to offer them a full refund. CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric said in a statement that “Filing complaints like this one is a last resort when a manufacturer fails to respond to the type of safety concerns raised in this case, yet in the interest of protecting consumers we were left with no other options.”

Original Article: Parents should immediately stop using the Leachco Podster, Podster Plush, Bummzie, and Podster Playtime Infant Loungers because they pose a suffocation hazard, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said today. The CPSC said the warning follows reports of two infants who died after being placed on a Podster and suffocated when, due to a change in position, their noses and mouths were obstructed by the Podster or another object. 

One of the deaths was in 2015: According to a CPSC incident report, a 4-month-old boy was at a day care and placed on the lounger. He was discovered unresponsive. The cause of death was ruled to be “accidental complications from asphyxia.” The other incident involved a 17-day-old who died in January 2018.

More on Safe Sleep

The CPSC had asked Leachco to recall the products, but the company has failed to do so, and the agency can’t force companies to recall products without taking them to court. The agency issued this warning but said it would continue to investigate the Podsters and consider other actions.

About 180,000 Podsters have been sold. They measure between 71 and 75 inches in circumference and have dimensions of approximately 23.75x21.5x8 inches. They have a padded insert and a removable cover. The covers come in a variety of prints and are either 100 percent polyester or a cotton and polyester blend. The covers also contain an elastic center made of a nylon and spandex blend.

In a statement on the Leachco website, the company rejects the CPSC claims and says its products are safe when used as directed. “Leachco has always had clear warnings on the product and its packaging not to place it in a bed or crib or use it for unsupervised sleep,” the statement says. “The CPSC is wrongly telling consumers to stop using the Podster altogether instead of explaining that no lounger should be used in a crib or bed and no lounger is safe for unsupervised sleep. The loss of an infant is truly tragic and families who suffered that loss have our deepest sympathies.”

The CPSC’s warning comes several months after the Boppy Company recalled about 3.3 million infant loungers because the products were tied to a reported eight deaths. It also comes more than a year after the CPSC warned caregivers to never let infants sleep on lounging pads, which are meant for babies to sit or lie on while awake and supervised, or nursing pillows, which are meant to make breastfeeding more comfortable. The reason for the warning: When babies are left unattended or sleeping on these padded products, they may roll over or their heads may fall in a way that can block their airway and cause suffocation. 

In fact, Consumer Reports tied at least 28 infant deaths to lounging pads and nursing pillows.

“Two infants are dead, and two families are grieving,” says Oriene Shin, CR’s policy counsel for product safety. “Leachco must do what’s right and recall these products. When a company refuses to act, the CPSC’s warnings to the public are critical to keeping people, and in this case, babies, safe. Leachco should immediately change course, and if it doesn’t, the CPSC should take legal action to force a recall.”

Ben Hoffman, MD, a pediatrician and chairman of the AAP’s Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, says that though caregivers may be tempted to let their babies sleep on cushioned loungers, it’s not worth the risk.

“Loungers are, under no circumstances, a safe sleep space,” he says. “While they may seem like a comfortable place for babies to sleep, or an easier way to get your baby to sleep, they are a serious danger to sleeping babies.”

CR echoes the CPSC’s advice that the best place for babies to sleep is on their back, on a firm, flat surface in a crib, bassinet, or play yard. 

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