• Thu, Dec 6 2012

Government Sues Mompreneur Behind ‘Nap Nanny’ Because Parents Can’t Bother Following Instructions

nap nannyLeslie 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)

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  • kt

    agreed. read the warnings on ALL products used with infants/newborns/toddlers..its parenting common sense. i was sleep deprived with my second boy who was a cat napping, screamer who needed constant stimuli and when i found products to help give him longer naps, i read directions and used those products with good results. he is still a cat napper and screamer, he has sensory issues, but all the products we use in our home are direction-followed. its sad that it came down to them losing their business over very tragic accidents. our country is founded on inventive, resourceful people. and it seems that is something that is no longer achievable. :(

  • ipsedixit010

    “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.”

    I’m sorry, this quote is just asinine. This wasn’t an inherent safety hazard, it was people failing to follow directions and just hoping a product was completely idiot proof. The “stressed and tired” comment is a complete cop-out and ignores responsibility.

    If you’re not going to take the time to read instructions (or at least look at the pictures in the instructions!) then don’t use the product or accept the consequences of YOUR MISUSE.

    • Joe Smith

      So you think those young kids deserved to die because the manufacturer failed their duty of making a safe product? The owner knew the sort of people she was targeting with this product, you don’t think she could have been more careful?

    • Danielle Bishop

      How could the owner have been MORE careful? There was a huge illustrated photo SHOWING the warning. It IS safe, if used properly.

    • TheHappyPappy22

      She did design a safe product and she was careful. She designed a product to be used a certain way. She made sure to put big, colourful illustrations on the box telling the parents what NOT to do with their product. The parents ignored the written warning, ignored the picture and used the product in the fashion they were SPECIFICALLY TOLD NOT TO. How is that the manufacturers fault?
      The deaths of those poor babies was tragic. I’m sure, if the parents had really thought they were endangering their babies, they wouldn’t have done what they did. I know they’ll have a scar on their heart for the rest of their lives and for that I’m sad. But it is not fair that Ms. Gudel has lost her business because of their mistake. She made a good product that works well when used properly.

    • Yves

      Are you kidding? So parent of newborns are inherently mentally retarded? They become blind? No they just ignore things because they are not bright or don’t care or who knows. The manufacturer has nothing to do with consumers stupidity!

  • Leslie Miikal

    Really? there are somethings that never fail to amaze me, and I have to say that I can not handle the “nanny-culture” we have. If you choose to not follow instructions and have a terrible thing happen, then it’s your own fault, you can’t blame it on a lack of warning.

  • TrueMan

    Yup that’s our government… dumbing everyone down below responsibility and then paying them because they can’t function, all the while punishing anyone who shows initiative.

  • RBX

    That’s insane! I have the Nap Nanny (the 2nd generation one from after the recall), and I loved it! It came with plenty of very obvious warnings about not using it in a crib and making sure your baby is strapped in at all times. I only used it on the floor (as it is supposed to be used), and it worked great. I will not be turning mine in as part of any recall and will be keeping it for future use! Short of the company’s coming in and nailing the product to people’s floors so they don’t put it elsewhere, I don’t know what they were supposed to do. If the CPSC wants to say that it is an inherently dangerous product, then so are the thousands upon thousands of bouncy seats with the same exact warnings, I mean, “catchphrases.”

  • trixiya

    i friggin hate lazy parents that expect everyone else to raise their kids for them.
    i played with plastic bags when i was a kid, i rolled around the house in a walker on wheels, i drank 1970′s formula heated in a plastic bottle and i turned out fine…
    none of my friends are afflicted with anything as a result of watching tv before the age of two and we certainly haven’t turned into serial killers because our parents gave us a slap every so often.
    parents need to stop blaming everyone else for their problems and take responsibility, themselves.
    i was working on my laptop the other day, getting a little too into my work, and my kid pulled herself up on the tv stand. could the tv have fallen over and crushed her, very likely. would i have gone after the manufacturer of the tv stand and the tv? no, because that would be friggin idiotic…just like these parents and this Kids in Danger advocacy group.
    i’m going to get into the business of protective bubbles…

  • Phillymom

    Leslie Gudel stop writing these comments!

    • lea

      What the?

      So are you saying that it is inconceivable that anybody else in the world agree that recalling these products in ludicrous, and therefore all supporting comments must be from the woman herself?

      Please.

  • HK

    So if I get in my car completely wasted and I opt not to use a seatbelt, may I sue the car company for negligence when I get injured? After all, cars were designed for the busiest of us, so safety needs to be more than a catchphrase.

  • Troy Hendrickson

    sounds like someone got a nice fat bribe for a false PR story. the deaths of those chidren are om your hands.

  • Troy Hendrickson

    It should be noted that the :instructions and warning were found to be completely inadequate. Sounds like another piece of human shit trying to hide from the consequences of the murders they enabled for profit

  • guest

    Six dead babies and you are defending this product. Products for infants should not be dangerous even when used improperly. this is not an example of the nanny state. Defending this dangerous product is irresponsible.

  • Shondra Giles

    I don’t think that they should take these off of the shelf, but I do think that people should follow the instruction on the warning label. If you are making a recipe you follow those directions. But then again cigarettes come with a warning label, but people don’t care about that one either. I’m not being mean at all. I’m a daycare provider and I have had children that do not want to sleep in a crib and on in their car seats, so I strap them in at they are by my side for theiir rest. Grant it they were short because i also have older toddlers to see to, but they were there and being monitored. I’m not being mean, I’m just being real. How many of these parents only used these on the floor?