Four infants in Wisconsin who were co-sleeping with adults have died in the last six weeks. Here's what our pediatrician has to say about the risks.
Four infants in Wisconsin who were co-sleeping with adults have died in the last six weeks. Reportedly, in each case, the adult turned over and accidentally landed on the baby, suffocating it to death.
- Two-month-old Tyler Winston died April 19 while sleeping with his mother, Carlen Friday. When she woke up, she found the newborn faced down on the bed dead.
- Three-month-old Kymarius Hunt died April 5 after his grandmother apparently smothered him while they slept on a couch.
- Ten-month-old Gavin Robinson died April 4 of accidental suffocation after sharing a futon with his mother, police said.
- Six-day-old Ceianna Buchanan was found dead March 8 in her home after sleeping with her mother on the couch. She appeared to have been smothered.
Granted, two of these adults broke a cardinal rule of co-sleeping: They slept on couches, not beds. Experts advise never to co-sleep on a sofa as your baby could get wedged in the cracks
between the cushions or between you and the back of the couch. Co-sleeping on a waterbed is also a no-no, as they are too soft and may have deep crevices around the frame
where your baby could get trapped.
Alcohol was also a factor in two of these incidents. Drugs and alcohol can impair your memory and cause you to forget that your baby is sleeping next to you. They can also cause you to sleep so soundly that you may not realize it if you roll over on your baby.
Is co-sleeping safe?
Pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson says: The "family bed" is another term for parents sleeping with one or more children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has officially recommended against the family bed, and the proponents of attachment parenting adamantly disagree. The AAP recommendation is based upon infant safety issues. Here are three reasons why:
Tossing and turning: There is a risk that a parent could roll on top of a baby, potentially injuring or suffocating him or her. While this is uncommon, it is possible.
Down will come baby: Unless a baby is in the middle of the bed between two adults, it is easy for him or her to squirm or roll off the bed. Surrounding a baby with pillows or other bolsters is neither safe nor effective.
This bed's too soft: Parents tend to sleep in beds with soft mattresses and heavy comforters. It is safer for a baby to sleep in a bed with a slightly harder mattress with lighter covers or none at all.
The Milwaukee Health Department launched a citywide safe sleep awareness campaign yesterday. "If you love your baby, put them in the crib," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. "Do not have them sleep with you."
Our thoughts go out to the families of the babies who died. Tell us: Do your babies sleep in your bed?
|Dr. Cara Natterson, a graduate of Harvard University and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and author of "Your Toddler: Head To Toe," is a pediatrician and mother of 2. She is working on her forthcoming book, "Dangerous or Safe?"|