Navigating Baby Product Recalls

When Should Recalls Be Followed and When Is Common Sense in Order?

Jan. 3, 2009— -- A long list of baby products was recalled in 2009. But how do you know when you need to follow the letter of the law when it comes to recalls? How many accidents are avoidable with just a little common sense?

Carley Roney, editor-in-chief of, answers some of these questions in a recall reality check. She breaks down how serious recalls are, what products get recalled the most, and keeping your children safe.

ABC News: Let's begin with how important product recalls are. Is it just the company trying to protect themselves or are they really imperative?

Carley Roney: Parents should always pay attention to product recalls for their baby and themselves to be aware of the consequences. If there have been reported injuries resulting in a recall and it's not just voluntary, then it's something that should be taken very seriously. It's also the company's responsibility to work with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to immediately notify consumers if there is an issue with one of their products. Of course companies also want to protect themselves as well.

ABC News: 2009 began and ended with the biggest recall in baby product history -- from cribs to car seats. What went wrong?

Roney: 2009 saw the largest crib recall in history. Stork Craft had more than 2.1 million drop-side cribs recalled that were made between January 1993 and October 2009. The problem was in the crib's drop-side plastic hardware, which caused pieces to break or go missing. The drop-side could also be installed upside down which causes it to detach and creates a space between the rail and crib mattress where a child can become trapped and suffocated, or even fall. Maclaren, a leading stroller company, recalled about one million strollers that were produced from 1999 to now. When the stroller is being unfolded or opened, the hinge mechanism posed a fingertip amputation and laceration hazard. There were 12 cases in the past 10 years where the stroller's hinge mechanism amputated children's fingertips. It's important to add this was not while the children were in the stroller.

Register Products to Stay Updated on Recalls

ABC News: Are you a bad parent if you don't do anything?

Roney: All parents want what's best for their child, so it's better to be safe than sorry. Take action if you have a product that has been recalled. Also use your judgment, depending on the type of recall, was it voluntary or not, what injuries were reported, some parents may opt to continue using the product or perhaps stop until they receive a repair kit from the company. Also if you have had an incident with a product you bought, it is important that you notify the company and the CPSC so they can look into it and protect the public.

ABC News: When you own a product that get's recalled, sometimes the company will come out with a repair kit or a "fix." Some products are just a matter of replacing a simple part -- like a screw, for example. Can the "fix" be trusted?

Roney: When a product is recalled, the manufacturer will distribute a free repair kit that will hopefully remedy the problem. It's better to not use the product until you receive a repair kit, just to be safe. Also take a look at the manufacturer's history, have there been multiple recalls for one particular product? If so, then it's best to try and return the item and get something else.

ABC News: Just hearing about a recall can be an issue as well. Besides word of mouth and a broad media announcement, is there anything else a parent can do to make sure they know when something goes wrong with a product they have?

Roney: Register your product. It's such a simple thing to do. You don't even have to mail in your warranty or serial number. A lot of companies allow you to register an item online, and by doing so, this ensures that you'll be personally alerted if anything were to happen to a product you buy. Also subscribe to an alert. You can subscribe to a recall alert feed on It's a special section on the Web site dedicated to updating moms and dads about the latest recall news. It also serves as a sounding board for parents to voice their concerns and opinions on these recalls. You will also receive a special e-newsletter from us when we hear about a recall.

For more tips on baby product recalls, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision and