Dec. 5, 2012 at 3:35 PM ET
Makers of the popular Nap Nanny infant recliner seats, which have been tied to the deaths of five babies, have failed to do enough about the potential hazard, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday.
The CPSC voted to sue Baby Matters LLC of Berwyn, Pa., which makes the Nap Nanny and Nap Nanny Chill seats, saying they pose “a substantial risk of injury and death to infants". It is seeking an order to require Baby Matters to notify the public of the product defects and to offer consumers a full refund.
But the company's owner, Leslie Gudel, said that "improper use," not flawed design, may be behind any deaths or injuries associated with her product.
"The loss of an infant is an unthinkable tragedy, and I am truly heartbroken for the families who have lost a child," she said in a statement posted on the company's website. "But the fact that infants have died 'while using' the Nap Nanny improperly, such as when used in a crib where the child could suffocate on a crib bumper or blanket, does not mean our product caused the child's death or is hazardous."
The company issued a cooperative recall in July 2010 of 30,000 Nap Nanny portable baby recliners after the death of a 4-month old girl who became caught in the baby seat’s harness, CPSC officials said.
At the time, the company offered an $80 coupon to owners of Nap Nanny Generation One owners toward purchase of a newer model. It also issued improved instructions and warnings to consumers.
Since then, the CPSC said that four more babies have died in Nap Nanny Generation Two or Chill seats and the agency has received more than 70 reports of children nearly falling out of the product. Babies have fallen out of the seats and become entrapped in the harnesses.
Gudel, however, said that while one child died after using the Nap Nanny Chill seat, the seat was not used according to directions posted prominently on the product packaging and the seat itself. She said the issue facing her company and the CPSC is the product design, not blame.
"I do not want to point the finger at anybody; that is not my intention," she told NBC News.
However, the CPSC said discussions with Baby Matters officials “failed to result in an adequate voluntary recall plan." CPSC officials voted 3-0 to approve filing of the complaint.
The Nap Nanny Generation One and Two and the Nap Nanny Chill seats are portable recliners used for sleeping, resting and playing. The product includes a shaped foam base with an indentation for the baby to sit and a fitted fabric cover with a three-point harness.
The seats are dangerous when they’re used in cribs or when the harness straps aren’t securely fastened, CPSC officials said.
About five thousand Nap Nanny Generation One and about 50,000 Nap Nanny Generation Two models were sold between 2009 and early 2012 and have been discontinued. About 100,000 Nap Nanny Chill models have been sold since January 2011. All of the seats were priced around $130.