Leslie Gudel was a normal working mom with a baby that wouldn’t sleep. She works as a sports reporter with the Phillies, but she also ran a small business called Baby Matters. Her company was famous as the creators and manufacturers of the Nap Nanny. Now, the Federal Government is suing Baby Matters for refusing to recall their product after five infants died while sleeping in their nap nannies. The problem is that these tragedies occurred when the product wasn’t being properly used. And really, that’s not Gudel’s or Baby Matters’ fault.
The nap nanny has run into a couple problems over the years. In 2010, it agreed to a recall from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The CPSC charged that there weren’t adequate warnings on the product instructing parents not to put the nap nanny into the crib or telling parents that babies needed to be strapped in at all times. Also, the product got a larger “lip” around the edge to keep infants from falling out.
Now, more children have died and the CPSC is asking for another recall. This time, the makers of the product have refused. In fact, they went out of business last month after their prolonged fight with the consumer protection agency.
There’s just one small problem. Now, the nap nanny comes with lots of warnings telling parents to never place the product in a crib. I called a friend of mine who happens to swear by her nap nanny. She told me, “There’s a big picture illustrating the point. There’s a huge warning! You don’t put it in a crib!”
The more I talked about the nap nannies, the more frustrated parents got. One dad told me, “I don’t want to give our’s back, even if there is a recall. We follow the warnings and it works great!” Another mom admitted that the deaths were scary, but that she really loves the product. “Anytime you have of a tragedy like that, it’s horrible and heartbreaking and makes a product really scary. But at the same time, those warnings are right there.”
For it’s part, the CPSC is arguing that parents are still using the product in a crib and babies are still dying, and their concern really has to be for the children first. Spokesman Scott Wolfson said, ”Parents are placing (the Nap Nannies) inside cribs and there have been tragic situations when they tipped over.” Nancy Cowles, executive director of the Kids in Danger advocacy group, says, “If you design products for the most sleep-deprived and stressed among us – parents of fussy babies – safety has to be more than a catchphrase.”
For her part, Leslie Gudel stands by her product. She argues that when used according to instructions, on the ground and with the harness fastened securely, there’s never been a problem with the nap nanny’s safety. And while everyone agrees that the tragedies are horrible, I think lots of moms and dads might stand with Gudel. Her product helped a lot of sleepless mothers. They’re sad to see it taken off of the shelves because some parents didn’t heed the warnings on the label.
(Photo: Nap Nanny)