New report from Consumer Reports:
Consumer Reports' safety experts tell parents to stop using the Otteroo; the company refuses to recall it
The Otteroo “neck float” is an inflatable ring that, its manufacturer says, gently keeps a baby’s head above water in a bath or a pool, so they are free to kick and turn and play. The smaller of the two versions is marketed for babies as young as 2 weeks old, while the larger one targets children up to 35 pounds. The products are described as perfect for bath or pool time, as well as for use in the type of water therapy that special needs babies might benefit from.
But the popular product line—Otteroo says 430,000 of its neck floats have sold since hitting the market about 10 years ago—has been implicated in multiple injuries and at least one infant death. And despite warnings from both the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission that the products are unsafe, they remain for sale.
In a public statement in June 2022 warning against the product’s use, the FDA (which regulates medical devices) said baby neck floats could lead to neck strain or injury, especially in babies with special needs. The agency said some baby neck floats were being marketed “for use as a water therapy tool” without the agency’s approval, though it did not name Otteroo specifically.
Five months later, the Consumer Product Safety Commission added to the pressure and singled Otteroo out directly. In a public statement, the agency said that a 6-month-old infant had drowned in Maine in 2020 after slipping through the neck hole of an Otteroo, according to an incident report, and that a 3-month-old had been seriously injured in New York in 2022 in a similar situation.
In all, the CPSC said it had received 68 incident reports since the Otteroo went on the market that all involved babies having to be rescued by caregivers. (Some of those reports referred to the first iteration of Otteroo that launched in 2014, which the company voluntarily recalled in 2015.) Many of the babies in the agency’s publicly available incident reports recovered immediately and had no lasting injuries; others required hospital visits, CPR, or even intubation, according to the reports.
The agency said Otteroo had not complied with its requests to initiate an acceptable recall of its current products and warned consumers to stop using them.
Read the full report at CR.org.