Co-Sleeping Can Mean Danger for Babies and Parents

Co-sleeping causes accidental deaths among babies every year
Co-sleeping causes accidental deaths among babies every year

About 3,500 U.S. babies each year die of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), a broad category that includes deaths of infants from sudden infant death syndrome; accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed; and other unknown cause.

Sarah Danneman says she lost her newborn this way.

“She was a very happy baby. I would take pictures of her smiling. She brought so much joy to this family,” Danneman said.

But the pictures and the smiles came to an end just two months after it all started. Sophia Danneman died at two months old after suffocating on a sofa next to her dad.

“He had fallen asleep with her on the coach and not knowing exactly what happened but it was co-sleeping that did it. For that, I lost my daughter,” Danneman explained.

Danneman says her world has been turned upside down. She is well aware of SIDs and the dangers of co-sleeping but said she had no choice.

“We would try to put her in the bassinet and she would not stop crying so I would try to co–sleep with her,” Danneman said.

A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed there are a lot of parents like Sarah and that a number of babies are in unsafe sleeping environments.

Preventing these unsafe sleep practices is something doctors and nurses at UAB stress to new mothers.

“Babies don’t sleep in the bed with adults or other children. When a baby suffocates because it’s been wedged underneath an adult’s body, we know what caused that sudden infant death,” UAB Advanced Nurse Coordinator Freda Centor said,

Centor recommends room sharing, not bed sharing. She suggests bringing a bassinet, crib or even a pack ‘n play in the bedroom and placing beside the parent’s bed.

“Unfortunately, when we’re asleep we are unaware what we are doing. It’s no way to make the adult sleeping environment safe for babies,” Centor said.