The Consumer Product Safety Commission is telling families to stop using the Podster and Bummzie infant loungers.
The alert comes after reports that a 17-day-old baby and a four-month-old died while they were in one.
"We've found the Leachco Podster creates a risk of suffocation, and we are urging people to stop using it," said Alex Hoehn-Saric, CPSC chair.
The stern warning from federal safety officials is about the infant loungers, the Podster, Podster Plush, Bummzie, and Podster Playtime, which are all are made by Leachco, Inc.
"In many cases with these products, the baby turns in a way, either while they're sleeping or unattended, where they get their face into the soft, pillowy material," said Nancy Cowles of Kids in Danger.
Then their noses and mouths can be obstructed, so they suffocate. The CPSC chair said the agency is looking to take further action.
"I think this product should be recalled, and unfortunately, the company has chosen not to do it this time," Hoehn-Saric said.
6abc Action News reported in September the maker of the Boppy did take its lounger off store shelves.
"A few months ago, they recalled the Boppy Lounger for a similar hazard. So this is a product class that really consumers should not be using because of the danger if the baby falls asleep or is left unattended," said Cowles.
The CPSC said any infant loungers like a Podster is not safe for sleep, and any product like that should not be used on a raised surface due to the danger of falling.
Also, babies should always be placed on their back, and if they fall asleep in an inclined or upright position, they should be moved to a safe sleep environment.
"The only safe place for infants to sleep is on a flat surface in a product that meets a standard for sleep products. So that would be a crib, a play yard, a bassinet, those types of products," said Cowles.
Experts say use only a fitted sheet and never add blankets, pillows, padded crib bumpers, or other infants to a baby's sleeping environment.
A statement released by Leachco rejects the claims made by CPSC.
"Since 1988, Leachco, a family-owned company in Ada, Oklahoma, has made safe, innovative and quality products to support families and infants. The entire Leach family, including founders Clyde and Jamie Leach, and now their adult children, Mabry, Alex, and Andrew, are in the business of helping mothers, fathers and caregivers with the difficult task of caring for infants who need constant daytime care and supervision.
Leachco's Podster, an infant lounger, is made in the United States and has been sold to nearly 180,000 families since it was introduced 12 years ago in 2009. The Podster is specifically designed to help with daytime care of awake infants for the countless times each day when parents and caregivers need to free up their hands for the activities of daily life. The Podster provides a safe, secure spot to place an infant on its back as the parent or caregiver supervises hands-free, able to prepare a meal, pay bills, check email, give a hand to siblings and many other daily tasks. The Podster helps babies and is loved by parents and caregivers. The Leach family has used the Podster for their own children and grandchildren, and they stand firmly by the safety and value of the products they provide to the public.
The Podster is not a sleep product. Even though infants can fall asleep anywhere, safe sleep guidelines and CPSC regulations draw a clear line between products intended for sleep and products not intended for sleep. Leachco has always had clear warnings on the product and its packaging not to place it in a bed or crib or use it for unsupervised sleep. The CPSC is wrongly telling consumers to stop using the Podster altogether instead of explaining that no lounger should be used in a crib or bed and no lounger is safe for unsupervised sleep. The loss of an infant is truly tragic and families who suffered that loss have our deepest sympathies. Unfortunately, the statistics show that infant deaths can occur anywhere, even in cribs where sleep is the safest. Leachco supports the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safe sleep guidelines and urges families to use the Podster as intended for supervised daytime activity only-not for sleep.
Leachco believes that banning products like the Podster will not improve safety. In fact, it will leave families and caregivers with fewer safe ways to care for awake infants. Infant care requires constant attention. It can be an exhausting job and parents and caregivers need products to help them. For as many hours of the day that infants need care, it simply is not reasonable to expect parents and caregivers to put them in a crib.
The CPSC's claims are wrong. The agency ignores the important role loungers can have for parents and makes the wrong choice for families. Leachco stands by the Podster's quality, safety and value."