The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission is warning parents and caregivers to immediately stop using a popular brand of bassinet after the death of a second baby attributed to the product.
The warning covers the Simplicity 3-in-1 and Simplicity 4-in-1 bassinets. CPSC spokeswoman Julie Vallese said Thursday the danger is so severe that the agency was compelled to issue the warning late Wednesday ahead of a likely recall.
"Recalls can take time, and the commission felt that time was of the essence and that warning the public about this product was so important that we could not wait until a recall was announced," she said.
Juneau resident and new mom Lauri Walton said she heard about the warning Thursday morning while watching a TV news program.
She said she bought a Simplicity 4-1 bassinet prior to her baby girl being born on Aug. 7. She said her baby was still in the hospital and hasn't used the bassinet yet. Walton said was "shocked" to see the exact same bassinet she had in her house shown on TV.
"My heart fell to my stomach," Walton said. "It was very alarming to me."
Walton returned the bassinet to Wal-Mart for a refund.
Wal-Mart is one of the largest distributors of the product. The company said Thursday it is pulling the bassinets off of its shelves and its Web site.
"We are working with the supplier and CPSC and are directing store managers to remove product identified in the CPSC press release from store shelves and initiating a register block to prevent sale," Wal-Mart said in a statement. "In addition, we are in the process of removing this product from sale at Walmart.com."
A spokeswoman for Fred Meyer Inc. did not immediately return a phone call seeking a comment for this story. A local Costco employee said the store does not sell the bassinets.
Last week, a 6-month-old Shawnee, Kan., girl was strangled after trying to slip through the metal tubes that run down the side of the bassinet. Police say her body fit through the tubes, but her head was too big and she became hung.
In September 2007, a 4-month-old Pineville, Mo., girl died after being caught between the rail of her Simplicity 4-in-1 bassinet and the mattress.
The CPSC says the "close-sleeper/bedside sleeper" bassinets have metal bars spaced farther apart than the maximum 2 3/8 inches allowed under federal crib safety standards. The bars are covered by an adjustable fabric flap that is attached by Velcro, which can fall if not properly attached and allow an infant to slide between the bars.
Vallese said there are about 1 million of the affected bassinets, which have been on the market for about seven years, in stores and in homes across the U.S.
The Juneau Empire's Alan Suderman contributed to this report.