Sale of Unsafe Infant Mattresses Decried by Consumer Groups

since 2000, at least 15 children have died as a result of unsafe supplemental mattresses

Sale of Unsafe Infant Mattresses Decried by Consumer Groups
Image: Pixabay
August 2, 2016

Several consumer groups and public health organizations are calling for stronger action to protect babies from hazards posed by supplemental mattresses for soft-sided play yards.

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA), Consumers Union, Keeping Babies Safe (KBS), Kids In Danger, the National Center for Health Research, Public Citizen, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group are the participating organizations.

Supplemental mattresses are sold individually, can be bought for use with play yards, and are advertised as safe. According to Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data from 2000 through 2013, at least 15 children died while sleeping on supplemental mattresses. These deaths involved a child being wedged between gaps created when the supplemental mattress was added to the play yard or portable crib.

A warning label attached to these mattresses tells parents not to use these mattresses, and instructs consumers to only use the original mattress pad contained in the play yard package. Still, these supplemental mattresses continue to be sold.

KBS President Joyce Davis asks, in a written statement "The sale of supplemental mattresses creates significant confusion for consumers. How can these products be sold if there is a warning about their safe use?"

The groups support the introduction of legislation in New Jersey that would finally ban the sale of supplemental baby mattresses in that state. The legislation (A-1139), which "prohibits the sale of unsafe supplemental mattresses designed for children products," is now before the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.

Specifically, the bill bans the sale of unsafe supplemental mattresses intended to be used by children in products, such as non-full size cribs, portable cribs, play pens, and play yards. If the legislation is adopted, retailers caught selling supplemental mattresses would be fined up to $10,000 for a first offense and up to $20,000 for any subsequent offense. Additionally, there could be punitive damages and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.