A 5-month-old baby died while taking a nap in the Pea Pod Travel Crib. The baby boy was placed in the travel crib with his twin sister for a nap while visiting family in December 2011.
“The daughter was fine. The son never woke up,” recalls Natalie Diaz, a friend of the family whose son died.
The Pea Pod Travel Crib — made by KidCo. — is a collapsible travel tent that has been on the market since 2005. More than 220,000 of the tents are being recalled after the tragic death and related reports of children being entrapped or distressed. “The bed is very compact and easy to fold,” said Natalie Diaz, a friend of the family whose baby died. “It looks like a giant Frisbee and pops open. You assume when something’s on the market for this long, it is safe.”
The travel crib has an air mattress that fits into a zippered pocket in the floor of the domed, which collapses and slips in a case for easy transport. But if the mattress is placed on the floor of the tent, an infant’s head could lodge between between the mattress and the side of the tent, causing suffocation.
This is allegedly what happened to the 5-month-old New York baby who was found dead inside the travel crib.
While the travel crib is being recalled, the manufacturer is doling out kits to make the travel crib safer. The kit, which consumers can request from KidCo, contains a smaller mattress and supports to strengthen the sides of the tent. The combination is supposed to make the tent more stable and prevent a pocket from forming where a child’s could get stuck or suffocate.
“We believe that having the inflatable mattress much smaller reduces the chances of entrapment between the mattress and the fabric side of the tent. We want to make sure the suffocation risk is removed,” Kaiser states, adding that safety “what we’re known for.” Safety, he said, is “what our reputation is built on. The concern was more of a design issue as to how the product mechanically works. The kit adequately addresses that.”
But Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids in Danger, says her Chicago-based consumer safety group would prefer to see refunds offered, rather than the repair kits, so parents can buy products that have undergone safety tests.
Since the travel crib is not technically an actual crib, it does not have to undergo safety tests, even though it is marketed as a product for children to sleep in.
“This was a product intended for a baby to sleep in,” she said. “But parents don’t realize that because it’s not a crib or a bassinet or a play yard, there’s no standard, it’s not tested to be safe for sleeping.”
“A product where a child is sleeping needs to be safe enough without the parent constantly checking on them,” Cowles said.
The travel cribs, made in China, are sold at independent juvenile specialty stores and outdoor equipment stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com from January 2005 through the present for between $70 and $100.
For more information on the recall, click here.