Sales of UC Baby Heartbeat Bear halted after screw found in baby's crib

A national ultrasound company has decided to stop selling one of its most popular keepsakes after a plastic eye came loose from a stuffed bear and ended up in a crib just inches away from a baby.

Greg and Chrissy White of Corner Brook, N.L., bought the bear from ultrasound company UC Baby at its St. John's office in 2013.

Chrissy was pregnant with their daughter at the time, and after getting a 4D ultrasound done the couple decided to buy a UC Baby Heartbeat Bear, which plays an audio recording of the baby's heartbeat when you press the bear's chest.

A sharp eye

The bear sat on a shelf in their home until their son Dru was born last May, and the bear went from being just a keepsake to a toy in his crib.

Last Monday morning, Chrissy's mother went into Dru's room when she heard the 10-month-old stirring. She found a screw in the crib, just inches from the baby's face. 

"She ran up over the stairs excited to pick him up and saw him playing with the bear, but the eye had already fallen out and was just laying right next to him," Greg told CBC.

"It's very sharp and could easily pierce your skin, so I can just imagine what it could do if it was actually swallowed."

Shocked to see such a dangerous object so close to their son, the couple immediately wrote the company.

Chrissy also posted a photo on social media to let other parents know. To their surprise, they heard from another couple in Corner Brook who had the same problem. 

"To know that just within our group of friends there's another couple that had the same issues – if you extrapolate that out over the population, there could be a common issue maybe," Greg said.

Company to discontinue bear

After calls from CBC, UC Baby founder Tina Urteten got in touch with the Whites, and within 24 hours said that the company would no longer be selling that bear design with the plastic eyes.

She said the company has been selling the stuffed bear since 2005, and purchased it from a Chinese manufacturer through a middle man.

She said after a similar complaint several years ago, the Chinese company agreed to exercise more quality control and include a warning label on the product.

After hearing from the Whites about their bear, Ureten said UC Baby will now look at finding a newer, safer product.

"We decided to discontinue the bears with plastic eyes," she wrote in an email to CBC. "I am working on getting different bears which are from another manufacturer and they will be made with embroidery eyes."

Worried parents

Greg White said that since the incident with the plastic screw, he's been checking all the stuffed animals in their house to make sure they don't pose any safety risks. He said from what he can tell most teddy bears these days have embroidered eyes instead of plastic ones.

He's glad to hear UC Baby took their complaint seriously, and hopes that their story makes other parents think twice before assuming all stuffed toys are safe.

"It's only a piece of plastic but I would even go as far to say that it's even sharper than a [metal] screw," he said, adding that it's lucky Dru didn't swallow it.

"Whatever he can get his hands on he will put in his mouth. So I guess knowing that, when you see that, it's a bit of a shock to the system."