Sleeping with your baby next to you can be a wonderful bonding experience, but as a young mum tragically discovered earlier this year, it’s a decision that can sometimes be fatal. She’s now urging other parents to re-think bringing newborn babies into bed with them.
A heart-breaking discovery
On June 3, English couple Lauren Jordan and her fiance Kieran Jones, did what a lot of parents do when their babies won’t settle – they brought their 12-day-old son Harrison into their bed to sleep. As reported by Kent Live, the 23-year-old mother of four was exhausted after a long day and apparently had only intended to give him a cuddle. Instead she fell asleep next to her new baby and 22-year-old partner. When she awoke several hours later, little Harrison wasn’t breathing.
A pathology investigation declared Lauren’s baby a victim of “unexplained death in infancy,” however it noted the possibility that Harrison might have been accidentally smothered by his sleeping parents or become too hot from their warm bodies – something which increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Unfortunately there’s no way to confirm exactly what caused his death, however, they do know that it occurred because he wasn’t in his own bed – something Lauren desperately wants other parents to be aware of to help prevent more babies from dying.
“We did not intend to fall asleep with him – but we were exhausted and it just happened,” she told Kent Live. “Sometimes it is nice to get that bond. But people need to speak out to stop this happening to other parents.”
A very risky habit
Studies show that sleeping in the same room as your young infant in fact helps reduce the risk of SIDS, but if they’re actually sleeping in the same bed as you the risk of suffocation or SIDS is increased by five times. Babies who are premature, small or under 4 months are most at risk. Co-sleeping is also even more dangerous if you or your partner smoke, or either of you are sleeping under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any medication which might cause you to fall into a deep sleep.
Co-sleeping safety tips
If you are still keen to sleep with your baby, it’s important to remember these crucial tips to minimise the risks and help prevent the unthinkable happening. Experts recommend the following:
- Have your baby in your room for the first 6-12 months, but in a separate bassinet or cot, and not in your bed until they’re older
- Place your baby on their back to sleep, never on the side or tummy
- Don’t smoke, take drugs, alcohol or medication that will cause you to sleep deeply
- Don’t sleep with your baby if you’re excessively tired
- Make sure their head is uncovered (so no blankets, toys, cushions or anything else near their mouth)
- Don’t sleep on the couch
- Don’t have more than one child in the bed at the same time
- Put your child next to one parent, not in the middle of both parents (to avoid them falling under the covers)
- Have a firm mattress and use lightweight blankets
- Make sure they’re safe from falling out but don’t place them next to the wall or a pillow, a bed rail is best
Our thoughts are with Lauren and her family at this difficult time.