Updated Friday, December 28, 2012 at 06:04 AM
Four major national retailers — including Amazon.com, Toys R Us/Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby and Diapers.com — are voluntarily recalling more than 150,000 Nap Nanny baby recliners after reports of at least five infant deaths.
At the request of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a federal agency, the companies said they are calling back Nap Nanny Generations One and Two and the Chill model of the recliner.
The products, according to the agency, “contain defects in the design, warnings and instructions, which pose a substantial risk of injury and death to infants.”
Aside from the deaths, the agency said it received nearly 100 reports of children hanging out or nearly falling over the sides of the seats, despite usually being placed in a harness.
The portable recliners feature a foam base shaped like a bucket seat and a fitted fabric cover.
The agency called for the voluntary recall Dec. 5, the first day that it said it had taken the unusual step of filing an administrative complaint against the company, Baby Matters.
CPSC is seeking a mandatory recall that provides consumers a refund.
The recall affects the 55,000 now-discontinued Generation One and Generation Two models sold between 2009 and 2012 and the 100,000 Chill models sold in 2011 and after. The products were all priced about $130.
The four retailers are participating in the recall “because the manufacturer is unavailable or unwilling to participate,” according to CPSC.
Baby Matters founder Leslie Gudel, a Philadelphia Phillies reporter and anchor for Comcast SportsNet, closed the company Nov. 12, anticipating that CPSC was going to ask parents to stop using Nap Nanny and the Chill, and citing financial difficulties arising from months of negotiations with the agency.
Gudel maintains the infant seats are safe and all the deaths cited by CPSC involved product misuse.
In a statement Thursday, she wrote: “The loss of an infant is an unthinkable tragedy, and I am truly heartbroken for the families who have lost a child. 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 a blanket, does not mean our product caused the child’s death or is hazardous.”
The first-generation Nap Nanny product was initially recalled in July 2010 after the CPSC learned of one death and 22 reports of near-falls.
The agency paired with Baby Matters to offer an $80 discount coupon for owners to buy a newer model with updated instructions and warnings.
Since then, according to the CPSC, 70 more reports of close calls have emerged, along with reports of other deaths.
Material from The Philadelphia Inquirer is included in this report.