Leslie Gudel was Philadelphia's first full-time female sports anchor, spending more than a decade with Comcast SportsNet. A couple of years ago she left the desk to report on the Phillies, where she continues to this day. But in her spare time, she created the Nap Nanny, a foam recliner meant to reduce gas and gently put the baby to sleep. It's worked well for most of the 150,000 recliners sold, but not so well for the five babies who've died.
Today, the Consumer Product Safety Commission filed a formal complaint against Gudel's company, claiming it has received more than 70 reports of infants falling out of the recliner. The Nap Nanny "poses a substantial risk of injury and death to infants," the complaint reads. The company went out of business last month, but the CPSC wants to force Gudel to notify purchasers of the danger and offer full refunds.
An earlier model of the Nap Nanny was recalled in 2010, after it was found responsible for the death of a four-month-old.
Gudel posted a statement on her company's website, expressing sorrow for the babies who died but maintaining that the Nap Nanny is safe when used as directed. Her statement concludes:
The filing of CPSC's complaint does not mean it's illegal to sell the Nap Nanny. Anyone who wants to sell the Nap Nanny certainly can, for now. The CPSC may succeed in its attempt to legally ban the sale of the product, but there's no telling whether that will happen or how long that will take. It matters little, because very few Nap Nannys remain on the shelves. The ongoing battle with the CPSC cost us so much money that it forced us out of business a month ago.
Another small business is gone. Twenty-two Americans are out of work between Nap Nanny and our supplier. This doesn't take into account the financial impact our closure has had on our other U.S. suppliers.
For those consumers who have reached out to us since learning we closed, THANK YOU for your support. It means more to us than you will ever know. For those of you who have asked for a Nap Nanny and can't find one at a retailer, I'm sorry we can't be there for you. I set out to make a product that comforted babies and improved infant sleep. I know we accomplished this mission. I'm sorry we won't be around to carry it on any longer.
Here's a reenactment of one of the deaths from the CPSC's first recall. Ten weeks 'til pitchers and catchers!