17 JeffCo infants died from bed sharing in 2016
SIDS, suffocation, entrapment... all dangers for an infant when they share a bed with an adult. The Jefferson County Coroner's office released disturbing numbers for 2016 on bed-sharing incidents:
17 infants died in total
14 of the babies were in a bed
2 on a couch
1 on a futon mattress
While an infant may sleep better snuggling up to you, mom Kimberly McDougall says at night she always put her baby girls in their own bed.
"I was not willing to get more sleep to risk my baby's life; it wasn't worth it. I have friends and all their kids slept in their beds with no incidence, but I was too worried to do that," explains McDougall.
McDougall opted for a bassinet right next to her bed. Just inches away she could soothe infant without getting out of bed. It was also convenient for nursing. As a working mom she knows what it's like to be exhausted and says she does not judge another mom for her decisions.
Doctors strongly warn against bed sharing, especially for infants under six months. Dramatic public service campaigns highlight the danger of rolling over on a baby or accidental suffocation with pillows and blankets blocking the airway.
"The bottom line, a baby shouldn't be sleeping in the same bed with you," advises Dr. Brad Troxler, Director Children's of Alabama's Sleep Lab.
Troxler says new 2016 guidelines encourage parents to keep the baby in the same bedroom, just not in the parent's bed.
Dr. Troxler says infants need their own safe sleep spot. No stuffed animals or big blankets should be in the crib or bassinet. Snug fitting pajamas are all a baby really needs at night. And he reminds parents, babies always need to be put to sleep on their backs.
For more information on safe sleeping for an infant:
The Alabama Department of Public Health does not have a breakdown of statewide numbers for deaths due to bed-sharing or co-sleeping. A spokesperson provided this information:
"The way deaths are calculated in Alabama includes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID), and other sleep related conditions such as strangulation and suffocation.
In 2015, Alabama had 108 sleep related infant deaths. These 108 sleep related deaths accounted for 22 percent of the total infant mortality rate. Eliminating these 108 sleep related deaths would lower Alabama's infant mortality rate from the current 8.3 infant deaths per 1,000 live births to 6.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births."