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kolcraft.pngI made a mistake this morning – a big one. I incorrectly identified the recall of millions of Graco playards as a current recall announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In fact, that one is from 2003. Rich Palmer pointed out my error, and when I checked again, I saw that the current recall is actually for 425,000 Kolcraft playards sold since 2001. A 10 month-old baby died in a Kolcraft playard. But it turns out these recalls are just the tip of the iceberg.

I’m sure there will be those who disagree with my decision, but I removed my original post and have replaced it with this one, which offers corrected and more complete information.

Playard recalls, and infant deaths and injuries as a result of playard design flaws have been going on for decades. Every major children’s supply company sells a version – many of which have been recalled one or more times.
Yet Graco, Kolcraft, and a host of other major children’s furnishings manufacturers do not feel the need to mention safety hazards of these products on their websites! And those that do bury them deep within the site.

It seems to me that one infant death is one too many, yet there have been many deaths as a result of unsafe playards.
Why are these products still in stores? Where are the laws to protect children from these design flaws?

Playards are known to be potentially lethal because they pose a strangulation risk that has been the subject of dozens of recalls.

The issue is certainly not new. A 1998 article: reports that, since 1983, CPSC had received eight reports of toddlers who strangled in their playpens when pacifier strings or clothing they were wearing caught on the playpens’ protruding rivets.
The CPSC site indicates that, since 1983, more than 12 million playards have been recalled because of strangulation risks and deaths of infants.
Playards (portable playpen/changing tables) that have been recalled over the years carry the brand names including Bilt-Rite, Evenflo, Gerry, Graco, Kolcraft, Playskool, Pride-Trimble and Strolee.
The Child Product Safety Organization, Keeping Babies Safe lists the dangers of playards and notes

“These products can present choking or entanglement hazards; head entrapment or suffocation; and risk of injury from tipping when legs on the product become loose and separate. …CPSC estimates there are still 20,000,000 unsafe cribs/play yards in use or lurking in storage.”

Yet all of these companies continue to sell playards of the same or very similar designs to the ones that have caused children’s deaths!
Astoundingly, neither Graco nor Kolcraft mention the recall on their homepages. Graco’s solution? They added a safety warning sticker to the product that they still sell. Kolcraft still features the recalled product on its site, without the recall information on the product page!
Parents’ best defense? Search for product recalls before purchase products for children.