Is The Otteroo Baby Safe?
Not according to the CPSC (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission). While the popular infant flotation ring has not been recalled since 2015, it has recently been issued a drowning warning.
The CPSC warns parents and caregivers to stop using the Otteroo infant flotation rings, LUMI and MINI, due to the risk of drowning. (1)
In their official warning, released on November 22, 2022, they state that the neck float can deflate without warning, causing the baby to slide out. This can lead to drowning or serious injuries. (1)
A six-month-old baby reportedly drowned in Maine, while a three-month-old in New York suffered serious injuries after slipping through the neck device. (1)
According to the CPSC, there have been at least 68 incidents of babies slipping through the ring. Thankfully, most of them were immediately rescued by a parent or caregiver. (1)
After reviewing the safety issues involving the inflatable devices sold by Otteroo Corporation (Otteroo), the CPSC issued a drowning warning. (1)
These neck floaties are now being exclusively sold on the company’s site, otteroo.com, but were previously sold on third-party online stores amazon.com and zulily.com.
Direct Response To Motherhood Community
As parents who have used and enjoyed this product ourselves, we wanted to hear directly from the brand regarding this matter.
Our editor-in-chief, Osmara Aryal, personally reached out to the company for a comment and received the following response from the brand’s founder, Tiffany Chiu:
Thank you so much for reaching out and giving us the opportunity to share our perspective – we truly appreciate it. As a team of fellow mothers, we are deeply saddened to hear of the two incidents mentioned in the CPSC press release.
No parent should ever have to go through what they experienced. We understand everyone at the CPSC has the best intentions – to keep the American people safe. We suspect that they are basing their stance on the two tragic incidents where sadly, the infants were left alone in the tub.
We stand behind our floatie because of the extensive steps we have taken to ensure parents understand the drowning risk anytime a baby is in the water and the inherent risk of deflation for any inflatable, and consequently, the importance of always being within arm’s reach of their baby while using Otteroo.
We maintain Otteroos are safe to use as long as parents follow the instructions; in fact, there have been millions of safe Otteroo uses to date with over 400,000 Otteroos filing homes and therapy facilities throughout the country.
We are so truly grateful for all of the support our customers have shown us throughout the years. Many of our customers are parents to little ones with special needs, and they truly depend on Otteroo; and for countless other families Otteroo time is a magical part of their day.”
General Response About The CPSC Warning
According to the safety warning, Otteroo has refused the CPSC’s request for an acceptable recall. (1)
These are the reasons they reportedly provided to the CPSC: (1)
- The incidents involving the Otteroo inflatable baby float happened to babies who were apparently left alone in the bathtub for an extended period.
- There’s limited evidence that these products were “directly responsible” for the incidents.
- The neck floats include “thorough safety instructions and warnings” to ensure safe use (if followed thoroughly).
- Parents are instructed to regularly check for air leaks before use because deflation can lead to drowning if the adult isn’t within reach.
- The warnings are clear that these inflatable neck floats must be used under “close and constant adult supervision.”
- The neck floats are subject to damage, including holes that can cause deflation.
The company also issued the following statement after the CPSC’s safety notice: (2)
“CPSC’s statement is misleading because mere deflation of the Otteroo is not the hazard CPSC claims. Rather, a hazard may arise only if an adult is not closely supervising the infant while they are in Otteroo in the water.”
“This position of the CPSC would mean that no inflatables should be used in water with children. Their assertion that only our floats, which are designed with the highest quality materials and safety standards, should not be used because of the risk of deflation is irrational and unfair.”
The company had the following response to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) safety warning in June 2022: (3)
“To clarify, the 2022 FDA safety communication is not a recall announcement, and Otteroo nor any other neck float company were recalled.
The FDA has concerns over the use of neck floats on special needs infants, and the safety communication issued was specifically for healthcare providers about using neck floats in aquatic therapy.”
What To Do
This isn’t a recall. At the time of this writing, Otteroo refuses to recall the neck floats despite warnings from both the CPSC and the FDA.
Still, based on their return policy, you can send back the products for a refund within 30 days of purchase, but with a $5 restocking fee. You’ll also need to pay for the return shipping fees.
Is It Still Safe To Use?
For many parents, the brand’s safety has become questionable following infant death and other slipping incidents.
Surprisingly, despite having a previous recall in 2015 and discontinuing Versions 1 (sold from 2014 to 2015) and 2 (from 2015 to 2018), the device remains on the market. (1)
Based on the CPSC and FDA warnings, it’s best to discontinue their use to avoid any incidents that can potentially lead to serious injuries or even death by drowning. (1)(3)
Otteroo Recall 2015
In July 2015, Otteroo Corporation of San Francisco, California, recalled about 3,000 units of Otteroo inflatable baby floats due to drowning risks. (4)
According to the CPSC’s recall notice, the seams of the neck floaties can leak, causing the device to deflate. (4)
Affected consumers were offered a free replacement. (4)
Product Description: What’s An Otteroo?
An Otteroo baby float is an inflatable neck device that keeps the head above the water while the body is immersed. It’s like a regular swim ring but smaller and used around your baby’s neck.
It’s popular, especially because it’s marketed as a fun bathtime device that can “soothe fussiness,” “stimulates appetite,” and “tires out your baby for better sleep.”
Can The Otteroo Hurt My Baby’s Neck?
The brand claims that the device doesn’t hurt a baby’s neck because of water buoyancy (the force that pushes up against gravity).
Is A Neck Float Good For My Baby?
A neck float can help develop stronger muscles.
A 2021 Healthcare journal study showed that the Otteroo can be used as a physical therapy intervention for babies with developmental delays and disabilities. (5)
Positive effects were observed on children with cerebral palsy following water therapy. This might also be replicated using the Otteroo. (5)
On the company’s website FAQs, the brand features a list of conditions where the Otteroo can be used to support water therapy. However, it disclaims that these are just customers’ experiences.
Some examples are:
- Congenital muscular dystrophy
- Spinal muscular atrophy
- Spina bifida
- Low muscle tone
- Brain injury
Still, the FDA and CPSC warn parents against using the product and gifting or reselling this to other families.
What Age Is Appropriate For Otteroo?
The product is suitable for babies who are:
- MINI: at least two weeks old and weigh 6-8 lbs
- LUMI: at least eight weeks old and weighing between 9 lbs and 35 lbs
How Long Can My Little One Stay In The Otteroo?
The brand recommends using the neck device for less than 20 consecutive minutes. However, the 2021 study mentioned above showed that some parents let their children use it for around 99.5 minutes or “as long as possible.” (5)
Does Otteroo Count As Tummy Time?
On their blog series, Otteroo claims that using the device can count as tummy time when your baby rolls their stomach, and their body floats on the water.
Baby Safety With Neck Floats
Injury Or Death Risks Of Baby Neck Floats
The Otteroo (and other neck floats) can have some benefits for your baby. However, the risk of drowning or serious injuries from slipping if the device fails can make it dangerous, especially if not closely supervised by a caretaker.
- Stop using the Otteroo even if you’re around to supervise your baby.
- The brand claims that the product is safe to use as long as there’s continuous parental or caregiver supervision. However, there’s a serious risk of drowning if the device deflates and an adult isn’t within arm’s reach of the baby. According to the CPSC, there have been at least 68 reported incidents of babies slipping through the floating ring. This is just too many times to qualify this product as safe, in our opinion. (1)
- Despite a study showing its positive effects, the FDA warns parents and caregivers from using it for water therapy intervention. The FDA warns that claims about the neck floats’ effectiveness and safety have not been established. (3)
How To Check If Your Baby Product Is Recalled
We know many parents worry about the possible recall of everyday family supplies. With the ongoing formula shortage in the US, and following the massive Similac recall involving Cronobacter and Salmonella bacteria, as parents ourselves, we understand your concerns.
It’s important to regularly check for recalls on baby food, baby diapers, baby formula, and other baby essentials, especially if your little one has sensitive skin or food allergies.
Here are some ways to check if your baby product has been recalled:
Check Official Federal Websites
- cpsc.gov of the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) – for children’s and household products
- fda.gov of the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) – for food, medicine, baby formula, and other baby product recall
- nhtsa.gov of the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) – for car seat and vehicle recalls
Other Recent Baby Product Recalls & Safety Warnings
Check these comprehensive lists of product recalls by category:
- Stroller recalls (2020 to 2023)
- Recalled toys list (2020 to 2023)
- Baby formula recall (2001 to 2022)
- Baby food recall (2015 to 2022)
- Pacifier recall (2019 to 2022)
- Baby wipes recall (2014 to 2022)
Other individual product recalls:
- Avanos Ballard infant ventilator system recall (2023)
- Walker Edison bunk bed recall (2023)
- Sakar’s Tony Hawk helmet recall (2023)
- Kindred Bravely bamboo nursing hoodie recall (2023)
- Cybex recall (2023)
- Patagonia recall (2023)
- Safety 1st recall (2023)
- Maxi Cosi recall (2023)
- Lancaster high chair recall (2023)
- Fabuloso cleaning products recall (2023)
- PJ Salvage pajamas (2023)
- Target blanket recall (2022)
- Crate & Barrel crib recall (2022)
- Laundress recall (2022)
- Bentex children’s clothing recall (2022)
- Green Sprouts sippy cup recall (2022)
- Parent’s Choice wipes removal from shelves (2022)
- Toddleroo cabinet latch recall (2022)
- 4moms Rockaroo recall (2022)
- NUK glass bottle recall (2022)
- BIBS bottle recall (2022)
- Winter Water Factory baby clothes recall (2022)
- Babyganics bubble bath product recall (2022)
- Frigg pacifier recall (2022)
- Maxi Cosi Pria 85 recall (2021)