The JoJo and Safe Sleep | the Rock n' Play recall

This post is strictly the opinions of The Mompreneur LLC. Cited and quoted information is identified.

When Adam and I created the JoJo, we had one specific idea in mind:

Create a rest environment for baby that we felt was an essential tool in promoting better and longer sleep for baby, and would last the entire time the practice of sleep was being developed.

What we have found with our own children and the many, many children we’ve helped care for, is that many sleep aids exist, but none of them “stick around.” Most products are made for infants OR toddlers, and once baby begins to physically grow out of the product, we introduce yet another change.

Change is hard for children, especially when it comes to rest. A baby’s sleep development isn’t secured until early childhood, and, when we have to make drastic changes in a baby’s sleep environment, we can see major setbacks.

Our goal was to create a product that allowed us to change one less thing while baby was still developing sleep habits – environment.

We are a very active family, meaning that our children must learn to sleep anywhere. With lots of travel, days out of the house and unfamiliar spaces, we found that our oldest had a hard time finding the peace and familiarity to rest without stress.

The JoJo solved this problem for us. The JoJo was his rest space, whether it was in our bedroom, his own sleep space, the couch, the hotel room, or grandma’s living room floor, the JoJo provided him his own familiar rest space, promoting better sleep, more sleep, and less stress.

After realizing that healthy sleep and rest habits were essential for a happy and healthy family, we knew we needed to get this product out into the world for other families.

Enter, the JoJo and our extensive journey to create, promote and sell a product that promotes healthy rest habits for baby, infancy through toddlerhood.

The response has been incredible. The JoJo is helping thousands of families get better rest all over the country, and we are so proud of the product we’ve made.

Through extensive research, a lot of prayer, and going about the process slowly and CORRECTLY, we’ve been able to ensure that the JoJo is as safe as we can humanly make it. And because we are a small company, aka, me and Adam, we are able to keep our quality assurance integrity very high, and make sure each and every JoJo that goes out the door is held to our highest standards in safety, quality and love.

When you buy a JoJo from us, you are not making a small purchase. You are investing in a tool for your own family, as well as investing in the integrity of our family. We don’t take your purchase lightly, and each and every dollar spent on a JoJo has been put right back into the company, making it so we can add quality items, accessories and further our own testing and research to ensure our product is the best possible.

Though few and far between, we do get legitimate and extremely valid concerns about the safety of the JoJo. Understandably so, since we are putting literally all our eggs in one basket.

The safety of our children is the only, and the highest, concern for families. Ours included.

In transparency, here is the safety claim we iterate on our own website, packages, labeling and promotional material:

“Not intended for unsupervised sleep. Please abide by AAP recommendations for safe sleep practices.”

WHAT PROMPTED THIS POST

I had a troll.

You know the type. The keyboard warrior behind the screen, picking a company or person and basically mom shaming them (and their following) until they take down the post and cry themselves to sleep.

Why people gain pleasure from doing this to others is beyond me. I can understand the motive – educating other mothers on safe sleep practices – but the way to do that is not by shaming them and the poster into feeling unworthy, naive and uneducated.

The comment that really got to me:

“I”m going to trust the AAP over a company that is out to make money.”

I realize that silence is my friend. And in all honesty, it took all of my self control not to respond to this comment with an emotionally driven, “how can you even think that?!”

Because if you know us, at all, you know we aren’t in this to make money. We are in this for the well-being of families.

So instead, I blocked those commenters, turned off the Facebook ad that was generating these haters, and dove into my own research. I’ve since put together this post in an effort to be completely transparent, educational, and also give information about myself, my family’s opinions and experiences with safe sleep, and what the legal information is regarding the JoJo and other sleep positioners.

WHO IS THE AAP?

First and foremost, if we, and anyone else, is going to refer to the AAP in any sort of safety claim, I feel it’s important to know who the AAP is, and why we refer to them.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) is “an organization of 67,000 pediatricians committed to the optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.” The AAP is an independent forum to address children’s health needs.

The AAP is funded through a wide array of sources including membership dues, revenues from continuing medical education activities and publications, as well as grants and contributions from individuals, foundations, corporations and government agencies.

In short, the AAP is a small, self-funded public agency that serves as a public awareness organization, and that lobbies with Congress and other government agencies to implement policies.

It’s important to understand the AAP is a very educated, strategic and forward thinking group of pediatricians. However, there is no publicly stated standard for who the pediatricians are, who they serve, and what their personal opinions are.

If you’re wondering what similar organizations are out there that do similar actions and public and government outreach but in different industries, think PETA, American Farm Bureau Association, and The Humane Society. Each of these organizations, though focusing on animals and/or agriculture, are non-government funded, non-government regulated agencies that lobby for policy.

Similar to the treatment of animals, best farming practices, etc., AAP lobbies for the health and safety of children.

No matter what your personal, ethical or moral opinions are (please try and set those aside), every single one of these organizations puts out “recommendations.” Not law.

THE INTEGRITY OF THE AAP

Because the topic of conversation is the safety and welfare of our own children, the integrity of the AAP is held to the highest standard. Much higher than that of agencies for basically any other mission.

There is no evidence to support the idea that the AAP does not hold the highest of integrity.

It’s important to remember that just like every other “policy recommending” and “policy making” group, that it is made up of a group of human individuals, with opinions, and strong ones.

Based on fact, science and statistics, the AAP makes recommendations to government agencies such as the FDA and the U.S. CPSC about things such as (stating from the last 5 news releases) vaccinations, sugar intake, when to introduce peanuts, therapy for children with disabilities, and graphic cigarette ads.

Safe sleep is not the ONLY thing the AAP focuses on. All of these other topics, and there are thousands or more, cover the gamut of keeping our children safe.

HOWEVER, we do not, as parents, citizens and human beings, comply blindly with each and every recommendation the AAP releases. Nor are we required to by law.

A very similar, and very controversial, comparison, is vaccinations. It does not take much to look through and find what AAP’s recommendations for vaccinations are, and realize that many parents may or may not comply with those recommendations.

WHAT THE AAP SAYS ABOUT SAFE SLEEP

NOTE: As I currently research the AAP’s website, I click on their homepage link to read about their pressure to Fisher Price to recall the Rock n’ Play, I am taken to a different post about policies to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks. So even in an effort to learn more about their recommendations for baby safe products, I cannot easily find their guidelines.

When I eventually was able to find the news release about the recall of the Rock n’ Play, the AAP stated that they “urge” parents to discontinue use and “advised” that the brand alert parents immediately.

The government that regulates the actual safety of children’s products, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, did work with Fisher Price immediately to alert consumers to discontinue use of the product after 3 months of age.

According to this same news release, the AAP states:

“The AAP advises against using car seats, strollers, or other devices for sleep because of the risk that a baby could roll or turn into an unsafe position and be incapable of moving, leading to suffocation or strangulation.”

Also note that the AAP does not recommend inclined sleep products, such as the Rock n’ Play.

You can read the entire news release here: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Urges-U-S-Consumer-Product-Safety-Commission-to-Recall-Fisher-Price-Rock-n-Play-Sleeper.aspx

WHAT THIS MEANS

According the the AAP, the Rock n’ Play is not a safe sleeping solution because it is inclined as well as restrains baby, leaving them unable to move.

What the recalls says: “Infant fatalities have occurred in Rock ’n Play Sleepers, after the infants rolled from their back to their stomach or side while unrestrained.

So, as a reference, (most of) the infant deaths occurred when the children were unrestrained and able to roll from back to side or stomach.

Here’s another statement from the recall, citing a pediatrician who supported the use of the Rock n’ Play:

“As pediatrician and baby sleep expert Dr. Harvey Karp of Happiest Baby has written, newborns are comforted by sound and movement because it mimics their time in the womb.”

Though not an excuse, it’s important to note that the reported infant deaths were reported if and when the product was misused - meaning, that infants were not strapped in appropriately.

That’s not say that the brand is not responsible for mis-marketing the product. However, Fisher Price is not responsible for user error, nor are they required to market the product per AAP recommendations, since the AAP is not a regulating organization. The Rock n’ Play did market their product as a sleep solution, showing photos of sleeping infants and using terms such as “baby can sleep at an incline” but per my own research, did not market the product to prevent or decrease the risk of SIDS or suffocation.

The Rock n’ Play does follow all CPSC standards, and the recall was a wake up call for both Fisher Price (Mattel) and the CPSC as to what standards should be in place for making expectations for use more apparent in and on marketing material.

WHAT IS LEGAL, AND WHAT ISN’T

The FDA and the CPSC state:

For quick reference, this means that the government does not clear or support any sleep positioner that makes claims to prevent SIDS (or suffocation).

The Rock n’ Play, the JoJo, and other sleep positioners currently on the market (per my own personal research) do not claim to prevent SIDS or suffocation. In fact, it is illegal for manufacturers of sleep positioners to claim ANY medical claims (including but not limited to: help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by keeping babies on their backs, help with food digestion and reflux, ease colic, and prevent flat head syndrome).

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE JOJO

There are a few notes that we should make about the JoJo and other sleep positioners that are important to understand:

The JoJo, and The Mompreneur LLC (me), do not claim to prevent the risk of SIDS, suffocation, or other medical conditions. In fact, the only claim that the manufacturer of the JoJo (me) makes is to provide a familiar environment for baby to lounge.

There is currently no regulation or process for “approving” sleep positioners with the CPSC or FDA. The only regulations we must comply with are:

Labeling for where, how, and when the product is made.

Not making medical claims to prevent SIDS and other risks

Unless the product falls into one of the following categories, the CPSC does not regulate the product for sleeping spaces. According to the CPSC, these are the ONLY places baby is safe to sleep UNATTENDED:

Crib, bassinet, play yard

Since sleep positioners do not fall into any of these categories (mostly because they are not made of sturdy material and can stand alone), sleep positioners fall into one of the following categories, based on material, marketing and use:

Pillow, nursery products, bedding, loungers, play mat, etc.

The CPSC does not regulate USE of product. Meaning, the CPSC does regulate how the product is made, where it’s made, and how it is labeled and packaged.

The JoJo is Children’s Product Certified by the U.S. Product Safety Commission. This is called a CPSIA certificate. It means that the product is held to the highest manufacturing safety standards and has passed safety standards for:

Lead, flammability, hazardous materials, and safe packaging

Not all children’s products must be certified by the Safety Commission, and depending on the category of product, the testing requirements are different. The JoJo has had the same testing as all children’s clothing, nursery materials, and anything made with textiles (children’s decor). This testing is required for the import of products. Since the JoJo pillow is manufactured in China (by some amazing humans who I know well), the JoJo had to pass these safety standards to get through customs.

The JoJo has had an independent study done by Amazon’s safety team for the safe use of the product.

Amazon pulls each and every product from the category labeled “sleep positioners” for independent testing before the product can be labeled for sale on Amazon’s sites. This is a test that is not required for each children’s product category. The JoJo passed flawlessly.

The JoJo is in the sleep positioners category on purpose.

If you note, the Dock A Tot is in Cribs and Nursery Bedding (I can’t be sure, but I assume this is because the Dock A Tot is UK based and does not have to adhere to the CPSC’s regulations for being labeled as a “crib.”). Competing products in this category include things like The Snoo, Halo Bassinest and travel cots for children. The Snuggle Me is in Infant Floor Seats and Loungers. Competing products include the infamous Boppy Lounger and Bumbo.

The JoJo is in the Sleep Positioners category because we believe in the transparency of the product, and that is exactly what our product is. We don’t believe in the product’s primary use being a floor seat or used in or as a crib. The JoJo is meant to be used as a tool to promote better sleep positions for infants and toddlers.

INTENDED USE FOR THE JOJO

These competing products I mentioned are also sleep positioners, though their manufacturers chose to categorize them differently. Whether that’s to avoid regulation, abide by AAP recommendations, marketing purposes, or an oversight, we cannot be sure. However, they all fall into the same place: placing a baby to sleep or rest or lounge.

The JoJo and other sleep positioners are not meant to be used unattended. Nor is ANY PRODUCT MARKETED TO OR FOR CHILDREN EXCEPT IF IT’S LABELED:
Crib, bassinet or play yard

These are the only products that can make medical claims to reduce the risk of SIDs and suffocation.

Though, personally, I could argue that point, as well. Because leaving a baby unattended in any one of those products is also dangerous. I’ve watched babies roll out of bassinets and toddlers fall from the rail of a crib. So…

In fact, I would argue that babies, in general, should never be unattended.

But what does unattended really mean?

Kind of like most words these days, unattended can mean lots of things to different people. It’s very subjective, and rightly so.

What unattended means for the JoJo? Well, I can only pull from my own and my customers’ experiences for this.

We DO NOT recommend the JoJo be used in a crib.

We DO NOT recommend the JoJo be used when leaving baby to sleep while not being frequently attended to.

Attended sleep, for the JoJo, means that baby is checked on frequently. For many, this means for naps when parent is awake and present, nightly sleep when baby is close by and monitored, or cosleeping when and if the family chooses to do so.

Note, the AAP advises against cosleeping of any kind. But there is evidence, and social proof to suggest that cosleeping works wonderfully for some families, and not for others.

The AAP also has advice on their site as to how, when and if to sleep train baby. Again, this is a family’s personal choice, and the AAP can be used as an educational tool if chosen for.

The JoJo should be used as a tool for promoting baby’s sleep. We firmly believe that if and when baby sleeps well without the JoJo, its use can and should be discontinued. However, many babies do great in the JoJo AND independently for sleep, making the JoJo a great tool for these circumstances:

Taking baby to daycare or away from home. Sometimes children have trouble napping or sleeping in strange places. The JoJo can provide that familiar piece of sleep aid when baby needs to sleep in a strange place.

Travel. The JoJo is fabulous for sleep on the go. We’ve seen JoJo be used in back seats of parked cars so baby can sleep outside of the carseat on long road trips while the family plays cards or watches a movie eats lunch in the car while baby sleeps. We’ve seen the JoJo be used on planes, in hotels, on buses and the list goes on.

Naps around the house. The most commonly used way to use the JoJo is for naps and cat naps around the house. Picture newborns sleeping in the JoJo on the couch while mom watches TV (or a myriad of other things she will be able to do hands free), on the kitchen floor while making dinner (this was how Joey used his for the first 9 months of his life), on the lawn while the family picnics in the backyard or at the park, and on the bed while family gets ready for big kids to go to school.

Overnight sleep. My favorite tool to use with the JoJo is the Owlet monitor, that tracks baby’s oxygen levels. This brings maximum peace of mind when using the JoJo for overnight sleep. However, baby should still not be left alone during this time. Cosleeping, or beside sleeping, is the better choice for this situation.

Other notes on overnight sleep:

Do NOT use the JoJo if baby likes to side or tummy sleep. The JoJo is meant to be used as a suggestion for baby’s sleep position, but DOES NOT prevent all babies from getting to their tummies or sides if they really want to. Also meaning, the JoJo DOES NOT prevent or lower the risk of SIDS and suffocation.

Once baby is strong and independently rolling from tummy to back, and back to tummy, and can lift head PAST the 4 inch sides of the JoJo, this suggestion changes. Many babies prefer to use the larger end of the JoJo to sleep on their sides and roll back and forth. ALWAYS use the larger end of the JoJo for this behavior. The smaller end of the JoJo, meant for newborns, will prevent them having the space to roll back and forth.

TODDLERS AND THE JOJO

Toddlers may or may not like the JoJo for sleep. Depending on baby’s preferences, some like to still feel snuggled close, especially when transitioning to a larger big kid bed. Some prefer the space to roll around, flip positions unrestrained, etc. The JoJo works best for toddlers that still want to sleep “snuggled up.” The JoJo won’t keep toddlers on their backs to sleep. It will hold their torso from bottom of head/top of neck to the bottom of the tushy, leaving their legs free to drape, curl up, or kick free. The top of the JoJo acts as a head pillow, keeping their neck in a neutral position, much like your tempurpedic pillow we all love.

INFANTS AND THE JOJO

Unlike any other product on the market, the JoJo has a smaller “egg” end for newborns. This end is still wide enough to house babies’ heads and shoulders up to approximately six months. Infants should be placed with their heads inside the pillow, not upon the top of the raised perimeter. The JoJo (with cover) will “squeeze” together when baby is placed in the center, making the pillow tighter around them. This is not to prevent rolling. This is to prevent the startle reflex – which is the most common waking factor when placing infants down to sleep after holding in your arms.

Infants should never be left unattended to sleep, especially in the JoJo. Though it’s unlikely infants will roll, in or out of the JoJo, it is still possible. The JoJo is a suggestion to stay on back, but we cannot guarantee against any baby’s eagerness to roll!

IN CONLCUSION

We will be changing our recommendations on our site and in promotion of the JoJo from abiding by AAP recommendations to instead stating:

“Please only use as a tool for aiding sleep development, attended sleep solutions and familiar rest environments. The JoJo does not prevent rolling or decrease or prevent the risk of SIDS or suffocation.”

“The JoJo is not intended for unsupervised sleep.”

And finally:

“The Mompreneur LLC strongly encourages safe sleep practices that caters to each individual family. You can find the AAP’s recommendations on safe sleep practices here, however, please use your own discretion for your family’s sleep solutions. Always consult with your pediatrician for recommendations on safe sleep.”

The JoJoNicole Andreini