What to Use instead of Rock n Play

When the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play portable bassinet premiered on the market in 2009, it was heralded as a lifesaver for exhausted parents. For a decade, parents used this baby sleeper seat, which rocked infants as though someone was holding them, instead of a regular crib. All the while, health professionals warned that it wasn’t safe for babies to sleep in. However, it wasn’t until 2019 that Fisher-Price finally recalled the product when 32 deaths were linked to this cradle. Although that’s a win for infant safety, many parents are now asking what to use instead.

We’ll provide some information on the recall as well as various alternatives to the Rock n Play. Although it’s been established that this particular sleeper is hazardous, sleep-deprived parents still have options when it comes to safe rocking bassinets.

The Fisher-Price Rock n Play Recall

Every new parent knows that babies don’t sleep well. They’re used to the warmth, comfort, and motion of the womb. Though a newborn may sleep well in the first six to eight weeks, after that, sleep becomes a challenge for the baby, and thus for the parents as well. Any product that allows parents to get some much-needed sleep instead of needing to stay away to hold and rock their baby is sure to be hailed as a miracle.

Enter the Fisher-Price Auto Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. This portable sleeping seat held babies in an inclined sitting position, rocked them, and played soothing sounds. Since 1992, pediatricians have recommended that infants sleep on their backs on a firm, motionless surface to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. Sleeping sitting up or on their stomachs can cause babies to stop breathing, and in fact, that’s what happened with the Rock n Play.

An article in the Wall Street Journal exposed this fact in November of 2018, and by the following April, Fisher-Price was forced to issue a full recall and Rock n Play refund. Any model that had been purchased in the previous six months could be returned for a full refund. You can still return older models in exchange for a voucher. Overall, approximately 4.7 million units were subject to recall.

What to Use Instead of Rock n Play

Although the Rock n Play was extremely popular, it is fortunately not the only rocking baby sleeper on the market. Now that this model is no longer available, here are some safer alternatives.

Snoo Smart Sleeper Bassinet

The Snoo Smart Sleeper from Happiest Baby is the gold standard of safe, automatic rocking cribs… and in some respects, it might as well be made of gold. At $1400, the price is sure to give any new parent sticker shock. It is especially frustrating because one of the Rock n Play’s key appeals was its low price. However, Happiest Baby’s technology behind the Snoo is sophisticated and safe.

Developed by Dr. Harvey Karp and engineered by MIT, the Snoo makes it easy to swaddle your baby and strap them on their backs safely. Moreover, if they start to fuss, the Snoo will pick up the noise through built-in microphones and begin slowly rocking and playing soothing sounds. It will gently increase the rocking until the baby has calmed, or it’s clear that the baby needs changing or feeding. You can also control the motion of the crib from your smartphone.

The good news is that all this technology is not completely out of your reach. You can rent a Snoo from Happiest Baby for $129 a month, and you only need to commit to one month at a time. Most babies respond well to it, but if yours doesn’t, at least you won’t be out $1400.

Graco Duet Glide LX Gliding Swing

At $200, the Graco Duet Glide is much more affordable. The bassinet seat can swing back-and-forth, side-to-side, or a combination of the two at any of six different speeds. There are also 15 soothing sounds to choose from, and the bassinet has three recline positions. Compared to the Snoo, the drawback is that this Graco Rock n Play alternative doesn’t turn on and off automatically. It also doesn’t have clip-in swaddle sacks to ensure your baby doesn’t turn over.

However, keep in mind that a similar product, the Graco Little Lounger Rocking Seat, was also subject to a recall in January 2020 for similar reasons to the Fisher-Price version. Although you can no longer purchase the Little Lounger, you may still see used units for sale. Do not allow your baby to sleep in the Little Lounger.

Fisher-Price Rock with Me Bassinet

This is the Fisher-Price product that’s closest to the Rock ‘n Play, both in design and price. It only allows for manual rocking, but it is as portable as the original without the inclined sleeping surface. You can also lock the rocking motion to keep the bassinet still. At $83, it’s the most affordable alternative.

Our Verdict: What to Use Instead of Rock n Play

Ultimately, we recommend renting the Snoo. It’s the safest automatic rocking crib out there, and the option to rent is worth taking advantage of. Although you can use it throughout the first 6 months of your baby’s life, you probably won’t need it all that time. Newborns sleep reasonably well for the first 6-8 weeks, and the rocking feature is most useful for the sleep regression that tends to occur around months 3-4.

Renting a Snoo for 3 months is approximately the same price as the Fisher-Price Deluxe Rock n Play with automatic motion was. Many parents swear by the Snoo for allowing them to get much-needed sleep, and you can try it out for yourself without making a huge financial commitment. Please read our full review of the Snoo for more details.

How to Get a Baby to Sleep in a Crib Instead of Rock N Play

Even if you’re not using a recalled sleeper, it can still be difficult to get your baby used to a stationary crib. Supposedly, advanced rocking bassinets like the Snoo don’t create sleep dependency – that is, they don’t teach your baby that they need rocking to sleep. However, many parents have found that babies used to rocking have difficulty sleeping in something stationary, at least for the first few nights. Here’s how to transition a baby to a crib from a Rock n Play.

  • Use a transitioning swaddle like a Magic Merlin Sleep Suit or a Zipadeezip to provide familiar, comforting pressure.
  • Transition when infants are sleepiest: that’s at bedtime rather than nap time.
  • Place your baby on their back and remain with them at the crib, patting their chest or hair to soothe them.
  • Don’t put anything else in the crib. Rolled-up towels, crib wedges, or inclined cribs all present a suffocation hazard.
  • During naps in the rocker, turn off the rocking motion.

That’s how to transition from a Rock n Play to a crib. Keep in mind that you will probably have two to three difficult nights as your baby adjusts no matter what you do.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Rock n Play Sleeper Safe?

It’s been more than a year since the recall, but we still see this question pop up from time to time. Other variants of it include the following:

  • Is it safe for a baby to sleep in a Rock n Play?
  • Can a baby sleep in a Rock n Play?
  • Can a newborn sleep in a Rock n Play?

The answer to all these questions is a definitive NO. While simply setting a baby in this rocker for supervised playtime is probably fine, no baby under 25 pounds should sleep unsupervised in the device. Some of the advertising and labeling were undoubtedly deceptive, and it is not safe for an infant to sleep in, particularly a baby older than 3 months. Take Rock n Play sleeper safety seriously and find an alternative bassinet.

What Do You Do If You Have a Fisher-Price Rock n Play?

Mattel, the parent company of Fisher-Price, asks that you contact them if you have any recalled sleeper model. The company will send you a prepaid shipping label and instructions on how to disassemble the unit. As for what to do with the recalled Rock n Play, Mattel asks that you stop using it immediately. If you remove the hubs and mail them back to Mattel, you will get a full cash refund for bassinets purchased on or after October 12, 2018. If you bought your bassinet before that, Mattel will send you a voucher for another Fisher-Price product.

Can I Return My Recalled Rock n Play to Target?

If you purchased your Rock n Play from Target, you can contact Guest Services about the recall. Guest Services will help you determine if your model is eligible for the recall. If so, they will likely direct you back to Mattel for a refund or voucher.

How Long Did You Use Rock n Play Sleeper?

When the Fisher-Price RNP bassinet was available before it was deemed unsafe, babies up to 6 months could use it.

When Is a Baby Too Big For a Rock n Play?

Again, when it was available, the weight limit was 25 pounds.

When Should a Baby Stop Sleeping in a Rock n Play?

In case it isn’t abundantly clear, if you have a recalled baby sleeper, you should stop letting your baby sleep in it immediately. However, if you’re talking about rocking bassinets in general, around 6 months is usually the time to get your baby to transition to a stationary crib.

Is There a Difference between a Baby Swing and Rock N Play?

Baby swings and baby rockers are similar. Baby swings are essentially chairs that keep a young infant upright and swing back and forth (or, more rarely, side to side). Only babies who can’t yet sit upright on their own or wiggle out of straps should use them. Usually, around 6-9 months, a baby outgrows the swing.

As the name suggests, the Fisher-Price Rock n Play was more of a rocker, which used a side-to-side motion. The age and size limits were the same as most swings. However, it also played music and offered several vibration settings. Importantly, pediatricians do not recommend the Rock n Play for sleep. Supervised nap time is less risky, but the American Academy of Pediatrics states that an infant’s safest sleeping position is on their back on a stable surface.


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