Fisher-Price Issues Warning about Bouncy Seat WHY??

Readers — I get the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s alerts every day and this one slimed out at me: Fisher-Price is officially alerting all owners of its Rock ‘n Play Infant Sleeper that it is filled with large, sharp rocks to play with.

No. I joke. It’s alerting consumers to the fact the bouncy seat  can develop mold if it’s not cleaned properly.

But…so can bellybuttons. So did all my children’s plastic bath toys. So can guacamole hidden behind the olives at the back of the fridge. (Don’t ask how I know.) Here’s the actual description of the heinous infraction on CPSC’s website:

Mold can develop between the removable seat cushion and the hard plastic frame of the sleeper when it remains wet/moist or is infrequently cleaned, posing a risk of exposure to mold to infants sleeping in the product. The CPSC advises that mold has been associated with respiratory illnesses and other infections. Although mold is not present at the time of purchase, mold growth can occur after use of the product.

How did we get to the point in our culture where we actually have to alert people to the amazing fact that if a kid is constantly sitting, possibly peeing, in a seat, and no one ever applies a little soapy water, things may start getting hairy…literally?

Of course it must be due to fear of litigation. (“Why didn’t someone TELL me a year’s worth of drool might get gross?”)  The problem with this is that:

1) Fisher-Price has to worry that someone WOULD sue them about this problem.

2) That this in turn accustoms us to being warned about even the most obvious things. (“Remove baby before folding stroller.”) Which —

3) Seems to suggest that if we are NOT explicitly warned of the most obvious things, we should be able to sue any company for anything stupid that WE do. (“It doesn’t say NOT to put my arm up the exhaust pipe!” “Why didn’t it tell me I couldn’t microwave a live fish?” “I figured if candy bars taste good, so must iPhones!”)

Time to go bury my misery in a nice, big bowl of guacamole.

Oh wait…

L.

Fisher-Price Rock 'N Play Infant Sleeper

Mold magnet or litigation lure?

65 Responses to Fisher-Price Issues Warning about Bouncy Seat WHY??

  1. Reformed Republican January 9, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    Even worse, the overabundance of warning labels causes people to ignore them, including the warnings that actually are important.

  2. KimZ January 9, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    OMG What? I thought it was a sleeper as in footie pjs. Not a friggin bouncy chair!!!! come on? ridiculous.

  3. LisaS January 9, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    By that standard, houses should come with a warning too: failure to adequately maintain this structure, including painting, repairing the roof, and cleaning the gutters, can cause mold and eventual structural failure. Really?

  4. pentamom January 9, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Lenore, I feel called upon to warn you that if you drip guacamole on your chair and don’t clean it up for 22.4 weeks, mold could grow.

    Also, if you try to swallow the chips whole, you might choke.

  5. pentamom January 9, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    And Reformed Republican nails it.

  6. Pophouse January 9, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    I’ve seen a warning label on birth control pills that admonishes: “Do not take if you are pregnant, or are planning on becoming pregnant.” The world is becoming easier to figure out all the time.

  7. Will January 9, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    Reminds me of that Dr. Quinn episode where she gets sued by the parents of an infant who dies in her care, but it turns out it’s because the long nipple attachment on the bottle was riddled with mold and other nasty growths because it’s design prevented it from being cleaned properly. In the end, the father goes on to sue to nipple company.

    Admittedly, that was a serious design flaw issue that probably directly caused a death. But, seriously.

    Also, did I just admit to not only watching Dr. Quinn but recalling a plot from the show? Damn.

  8. Taradlion January 9, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    This one is right up there with the warning on the sun/heat shade for windshields that says “do not drive with sunshade in place” …seriously….

    Are there warnings on diapers about not changing them frequently enough?

  9. Charity January 9, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    I have two of these. One got wet and I didn’t notice, then didn’t use it for a while, and it developed a few mildew spots. You know what I did? Washed it with a little bleach. I figured this out because I am an adult human being with critical thinking skills. Also, I learned to check for wetness on these sorts of things. I never once thought about reporting it to the company or even giving it a bad review for that.

  10. Steve January 9, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again and add a few extra words.

    All disclaimers on EVERYTHING should read pretty much the same way:

    “This information, product, service, public or private space, (or whatever) — though found to be completely harmless by the majority of users, could seriously harm or kill YOU. Some people fall out of bed and kill themselves, while others choke to death. Use this ______ at your own risk.”

  11. Crazy times January 9, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Or the stroller warnings that warn parents to remove child before folding…..because we often forget to take our kids out of the stroller….or my hairdryer warning that said do not use in bathtub.

  12. anna January 9, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    Car seats have the same trouble. Ask me how I know that. :)

  13. bigdummy January 9, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    DANGER fire is hot and can burn you. Make sure flame is completely out before placing lighter in pocket.

  14. Not a Mom January 9, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    Here is my latest favorite warning… on… can you guess? A doormat!!

    http://overlawyered.com/2012/12/doormat-warning/comment-page-1/#comment-197545

  15. Randy January 9, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    I wouldn’t put an infant in that bouncy seat until I got some assurances that the bunny isn’t going to bite my kid.

  16. Not a Mom January 9, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    So sorry, just realized you’re the one who told ME about the doormat warning, oops.

  17. joanne January 9, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    So could it become a situation where they failed to warn about Z when they warned about A – Y therefore the company is negligent about not warning about Z too? ie The company has now warned about the mold problem and looking at it I would imagine there’s also a warning about not leaving baby unattended and not strapping baby in securely. There’s probably a warning about pinching fingers in the folding apparatus as well and taking baby out before folding and storage. So when, in my profound idiocy, I let the seams get loose on the cover and my baby tangles his/her hand into the developing hole or even his/her whole head in the hole that I’ve let develop, I can sue because, well they didn’t warn me about THAT possibility? I just don’t get it. I could see an SNL skit around this as a group of people stand around and use an item for everything but its intended use to see what kinds of warnings they need to put on items. (Or maybe it already has been an SNL skit. Probably it has.)

  18. Janet January 9, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    They don’t warn about mold in all of their products, so something is obviously wrong with this product. What is it made of that mold should develop so easily?

    “So far, Fisher-Price has received 600 reports of mold on the product. Sixteen people have reported that their infant was treated for respiratory issues, coughs, and hives after sleeping in it.”

  19. Captain America January 9, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    Too many lawyers.

  20. Lollipoplover January 9, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    “What is it made of that mold should develop so easily?”

    Probably cheap, Made in China plastic. The problem isn’t so much the material. Anything a baby sleeps in gets nasty. Babies drool, leak poop, and spit up. You clean them. You also clean up (and frequently wipe down) places they go- crib, seats, high chairs, this is Baby 101.
    Was she using this seat in a sauna?
    How much mold are we talking about here? When hairy black mold surrounds your baby, YOU CLEAN MORE.
    If things around you start growing mold and your baby is getting respiratory problems, you don’t blame the dirty devices you failed to clean. You smack yourself on the forehead for being a dunce and not cleaning your baby shit.
    Seriously.

  21. Rebecca January 9, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    Haha… There WAS an SNL skit about it… “Happy Fun Ball.”

  22. Jim Collins January 9, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    I’m pretty sure that joanne has it right. These days some plastics have chemicals that inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungus. I’m betting that these seats are not made of that plastic, so they have to issue the warning to cover themselves in the event some infant gets a respiratory infection while sitting in one of these seats.

  23. missjanenc January 9, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    My favorite warning on the take-out pizza box warning me the contents may be hot. They damned well better be hot or I will be compelled to sue for cold pizza!

  24. tramlover January 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    You see I look at that and think helpful -from the description it appears the mould is between cover and frame so not visible – not being an obsessive cleaner myself without this hint I would be unlikely to take the cover off unless was an ‘accident’ in it so wouldn’t see mould. This helpful tip would lead me to make sure I checked for mould frequently or just make me not buy in first place as cleaning not a love of mine. To me that is the difference between this and other examples given is that in this case the mould is not visible – unless you take it apart.

  25. Jennifer January 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    “Although mold is not present at the time of purchase, mold growth can occur after use of the product.”
    HAHAHAHA! This made my day!

  26. tramlover January 9, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    It is not normal for baby bouncers to develop mould underneath (none of mine have) so something particular with this model so unlike the pizza example is not something that is widely applicable that everyone should know anyway.

    I think this post and a lot of the comments are actually ‘worst-first’ thinking of a different kind. Assuming the manufacturer is only worried about being sued and that people it has happened to are lazy and unclean, and people who have reported it only do for own benefit rather than just to warn others.

  27. DS January 9, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Well….. A: It’s not a bouncer. B: As it is a rocker / sleeper, there would be a greater chance of mold to grow as there’s a greater chance it will be moist due to a body lying in it. Not a terrible warning to send out as people were clearly not making sure it was clean.

  28. Kate January 9, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    The comments from this peanut gallery have made me giggle and chuckle – almost choked on my lunch. Time for a warning label on your comments section Lenore!

  29. katrina January 9, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    Anyone remember Bag O Glass from SNL Anyohttp://snltranscripts.jt.org/76/76jconsumerprobe.phtml

    There does not seem to be any video available, but here is an excerpt from the transcript

    Consumer Reporter: Alright. Fine. Fine. Well, we’d like to show you another one of Mr. Mainway’s products. It retails for $1.98, and it’s called Bag O’ Glass. [ holds up bag of glass ] Mr. Mainway, this is simply a bag of jagged, dangerous, glass bits.

    Irwin Mainway: (Dan Aykroyd) Yeah, right, it’s you know, it’s glass, it’s broken glass, you know? It sells very well, as a matter of fact, you know? It’s just broken glass, you know?

    Consumer Reporter: [ laughs ] I don’t understand. I mean, children could seriously cut themselves on any one of these pieces!

  30. mollie January 9, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    Looking at that product, I can totally imagine myself “letting it go” for, possibly, ever, like I did with the car seats. I wouldn’t be thinking that I needed to be detaching the cover from the frame periodically to inspect for mould, and might appreciate the heads-up that it could develop… wow, am I grateful I’m all done with the baby phase!

  31. Tomas January 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    Actually, I think you can microwave a live fish. Not nice of you, and it won’t be live for long, but in principle you can.

  32. Jenna K. January 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    My cousin posted this on her Facebook page and when I replied with a similar vein, that it was ridiculous, I had others jumping all over me saying how grateful they were for the warning.

  33. Amanda Matthews January 9, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    An $85 plastic device designed to simulate holding your baby so you don’t have to. Siiiiigh.

    Why do we insist that wrapping babies in plastic isn’t safe when it comes to their clothes and blankets (i.e. no acrylic clothes/blankets, it must be cotton treated with flame retardant chemicals that are banned in other countries), but then surround them in plastic anyway?

    I won’t be surprised if we discover that being surrounded by plastic is related to respiratory illnesses.

    @Will

    “Admittedly, that was a serious design flaw issue that probably directly caused a death. But, seriously.”

    Uh, no, what caused the death was the parents continuing to use a nipple the couldn’t/didn’t clean. If you discover after purchase that you can’t clean something, then return it; don’t continue using it until it gets so dirty that your baby dies.

  34. Sarah J January 9, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    The reason for this warning is to demonstrate the power and necessity for the CPSC. “Last year, the CPSC had to issue (insanely large number) of warnings to manufacturers, so we need lots of funding to keep our kids safe!”

  35. Donald January 9, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    Just this morning, I had a bowl of cereal for breakfast. I wanted a change from the same ole same ole so I poured Castrol GTX in my bowl instead of milk.

    It didn’t taste very good. I think it would be a good cure for constipation.

    Now I’m thinking of suing Castrol for not having a warning on the label.

    They are a multi million dollar company. They have plenty of money.

    Lawyers are looking for work as well. I’ll be able to find one that will do a no win no fee. If I lose, I’m not out anything. Sure it’s a long shot but it’s more fun than playing the lottery.

  36. Lollipoplover January 9, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    I like to remind myself every now and then the proper way to care for a baby:

    http://www.hemmy.net/2008/02/08/baby-warning-instructions/

  37. RobynHeud January 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

    I have one of these rockers and they are amazing. It’s not exactly easy to take the cover off and even harder to put it back on, but it can be done. If a parent does it with a car seat or a bouncer, it should be natural to do it for this one. And yes, it is made of plastic, but that’s not what grows mold, it’s the wet fabric. We had a down comforter that we didn’t get completely dry before we put it away for storage and the next time we pulled it out, it had tiny mold spots in quite a few places. Lesson learned, we no longer have any blankets too big for our dryer, and if we did, I’d probably hang a clothesline. The fact is, most materials will grow mold if not dried properly and left in a warm, dark place, ie where we put our babies down to nap.

  38. Stacey January 9, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    and yet I never see warning labels on bottles of liqour

  39. hineata January 9, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    Haven’t seen one of these before, but am wondering why there isn’t a warning about that creepy-looking bunny in the corner. I think that might cause some kind of psycopathy in infants, surely….

  40. Stephanie January 9, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

    Hmm. Cloth-covered seat for babies could develop mold. I’m shocked, shocked I say.

  41. Jenn January 9, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    Gee, someone should have put a warning label on my newborn daughter because (being my second), we didn’t bathe her every day. Actually, sometimes almost a week would pass and we’d wonder what that smell was and realize it was the baby! Turns out nursing a baby that drools all the time can get smelly under the chin if you aren’t diligent about washing (in my post-delivery haze and tending to two small children, sometimes washing under the baby’s chin wasn’t a priority). Oh well, we all survived those days just like all new parents do!

  42. Sarah January 9, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    My strong opinion is that they are really recalling them due to flat heads. I have the exact rock n play pictured, and stopped using it at seven weeks because it was very much positioning my baby’s head in way that was putting way too much pressure on the bottom back of his head.

    When I called Fisher-Price about it, they spent a lot of time documenting my concerns, and asked about his weight, age, how often he was in there, what age I noticed the problem and stopped using it, where else he slept, etc. They obviously had a lot of these complaints, and there are bad reviews that I brushed off that I wish I had paid more attention to.

    So, my opinion, they are recalling it due to “mold” to avoid liability. They know there is a problem.

  43. Beth January 9, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    @Amanda Matthews – it seems like you’ve never had to put your baby down in a safe spot to make dinner, tend to other children, or god forbid go to the bathroom?

    The assumption that people have these in order to avoid holding their babies is just wrong, and insulting.

  44. Erika January 9, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

    There actually is a serious problem with these rockers “not a bouncy seat”.

    They are geared to parents who have infants with reflux, they are angled specifically to help prevent it while napping, sleeping, etc. Obviously some of you have not had an infant with severe reflux and apneic episodes. There is a huge mold issue, we owned one and had to have it replaced (the company actually came out with a “new design” which consisted of them changing the color from light yellow to dark brown. Which in my opinion was to “hide” the mold issue). And yes, I know how to clean. The design of it makes it impossible to properly clean the part where mold tends to grow. It cannot be completely taken apart. It also causes flat spots from the bad design too. We didn’t have that problem, but it is a huge complaint from other parents.

    And I also held my baby to the poster stating parents that use this are lazy. I’m a Babywearing parent so that comment was just offensive.

    I usually agree with most of the posts here in general (I follow you on FB and get the emails) but you’re waaaay off base here.

  45. Rod January 9, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

    Where was the warning on my box of Pampers? “WARNING – Diaper my become full of feces and/or urine. Please dispose of immediately and properly after use.”

    A face palm doesn’t say enough. Yet another example to throw on the “How did I survive my horribly dangerous childhood?” pile. Meh.

  46. Donna January 10, 2013 at 3:22 am #

    Gee Amanda must be nice to have ample free time at your disposal to hold your baby 24/7. Not being wealthy enough to hire a personal chef, cleaning lady, personal care assistant, and doctor to insert a catheter, I actually had to put mine down occasionally throughout the day to cook, clean messes, bathe and pee.

  47. Andy January 10, 2013 at 3:39 am #

    @Beth I putted my kid on the floor when I needed to do those things. Not sure whether it makes me better or worst parent. (The floor had carpet and blanket on it, was warm and clean.)

  48. Andy January 10, 2013 at 3:44 am #

    @Donna Call me bad parent, but I putted my baby down also to surf the net a bit, exercise, read a book or do something else not strictly needed, but pleasant.

    I’m one of those weak people that need downtown to be calm and sane, so I took it. Kids seem to be doing ok so far. Actually, I think that everyone needs downtime and there is such thing as hero complex.

  49. Jenny Islander January 10, 2013 at 4:12 am #

    Speaking as someone who wanted very badly to wear my babies, when physical issues forced me to stop, you can bet I was grateful for a bouncy seat. Somewhere safe to put the baby where she can see me and I can still have my hands free? YES.

    But if the bouncy seat gets to looking grungy, you clean it. For crying out loud, babies leak from both ends, often simultaneously. Everything they touch is going to get smeared. How frightened of litigation do you have to be to recall a baby seat because somebody complained that it grew mold?

  50. tu January 10, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    I like mould, it puts the mud and dog hair into perspective.

  51. Dee January 10, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    This is how bad a parent I am. We were given a …. I don’t even remember what you call it. Those things babies can semi-stand in, with lots toys around it and they can spin around (not the walker but the newer kind). At any rate, we were given one and the seat had mold on it. It had been in the other family’s garage since their youngest used it. I tried to get a replacement for the fabric insert but no luck. So I washed the heck out of it in bleach. You could still see the mold spots, but I figured with all that washing – the actual mold was probably gone. So in went my child who spent many occasions happily spinning around in it. AMAZING – he survived and today is a 10 year old!

  52. EricS January 10, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    It might also be due to the fact, that most people these days are accustomed to being told what to do, think, and believe. Not many people actually look into things themselves. Whether through other sources online, or their own experiences (if they ever allowed themselves to have any). Eg. Someone posts a hoax (whether he/she made it up, or they picked it up somewhere online thinking it was real) on Facebook, in a matter of hours, it’s everywhere. And people are believing it. Never trying to confirm the legitimacy of what was said. Marketing companies know this about people, and they capitalize on it, or treat people like the invalids they are. That and litigious reasons. Because people are prone to sue because they tripped over their own shoelace.

  53. Katie January 10, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Back 100 years ago they didn’t have all this stuff and having all this stuff just creates more worry and work. The companies spent lots of money making you believe you need all this stuff and little money paying the 10 year olds who put it together in China. Then you wonder why you get a low end products with lots of problems.

  54. Donna January 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    People are not actually prone to sue because they tripped over their own shoelace. Such lawsuits are as rare as kidnapping pedophiles and such thinking as much worst first thinking as anything else we talk about. However, the fear of ridiculous lawsuits is also like the fear of pedophiles – completely invasive and overwhelming though not based on reality. So much like parents act as if their child is in dire threat of kidnapping at any minute, companies act as if they are in dire threat of lawsuits at any minute.

    But continuing to spread and assert this notion that lawsuits over stupid stuff are so prevalent and that the entire population sues at the drop of a hat is much the same as continuing to say the world is unsafe. It is untrue and simply perpetuates the fear.

  55. pentamom January 10, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Tramlover — a note on the package warning you that the problem could develop — helpful.

    A government-issued announcment that something that contains fabric is being recalled because it CAN GET MOLDY — something else.

  56. DS January 11, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    “Amanda Matthews, on January 9th, 2013 at 4:47 pm Said:

    An $85 plastic device designed to simulate holding your baby so you don’t have to. Siiiiigh.”

    You are an insulting, judgmental person. Please have someone more empathetic than you raise your children.

  57. pentamom January 11, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    I loved holding my babies. I didn’t like to put them down.

    But I also liked having hot meals, clean laundry, older children cared for, and tending to my bodily functions. Fortunately I didn’t have to spend $85 — cribs, playyards, car seats, and various other safe spots around the house did pretty well. (Plus with my older kids I had shower presents and/or hand-me-down versions of things like bouncy seats and a swing. Those things don’t tend to last for ten years/five kids though.) But the idea that someone would only use something like this so they don’t have to hold their baby (as though they don’t want to) bespeaks an unwarranted sense of superiority.

  58. bmommyx2 January 12, 2013 at 3:16 am #

    Most recalls are a joke & a waste of time. The CPSC has run amok. My oldest son’s stroller was recalled 5yr after the fact (real efficient) because a baby slipped through where the feet go, strangled and died (seven years ago). sad, but was it really the strollers fault? The stroller converted to a carriage so a baby should not have been able to slip through also a young child should have been buckled in & where the heck were the parents?

  59. Rosalie Bent January 14, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    My company recently bought a large Pelikan Box for the transport of AV equipment. It is air-tight and very solid. It came with instructions to NOT put your children in there (presumably for transport!)

    I have a stroller for my grankids that has a large label telling you to remove the child before folding it up.

    this is ridiculous.

  60. Farside January 16, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Who wrote the Release #13-087?

    If the names of the federal bureaucrats who wrote releases were attached to the releases, the number of releases would show a dramatic decrease over time — that one small step for a man and one giant step for mankind.

  61. HappyFunBall January 16, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Those saying that we start to ignore warnings that are printed on everything have it spot on. I purchased a Stihl chainsaw some years ago after having read all of these sites about copious warnings…I had no idea. The manual literally had 20-30 pages of warnings! I’ve been using my dad’s chainsaw for years on just his training. I just wanted to know how to remove the air filter for servicing and I had to leaf through so many pages that I just skipped them.

    Strangely, I still have all of my appendages…

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