New Ad Uses Mothers Who Lost Babies To Promote Safe Sleeping Choices

September is Baby Safety Month, and this year the B’More for Healthy Babies project in Baltimore is warning parents that the safest place for a baby is in a crib. The project is using real mothers to help drive home their warning.

baby sleeping crib

Dearea Matthews is one of the mothers involved in the B’More for Healthy Babies project. She lost her infant son, Charlie, when he was only 1 month old due to unknown causes. Matthews had co-slept with her older children, just as several members of her family had done with theirs. According to Matthews, even her doctor had co-slept with his four children. The cause of Charlie’s death has not been determined, however Matthews is certain that co-sleeping is what is to blame. She hopes her voice will help encourage other parents to use a crib instead of their beds.

Last year in Baltimore there were 27 infant deaths due to unsafe sleeping conditions. These include infants becoming smothered by blankets and toys, laying on their stomachs, choking, or being laid on by a sibling. According to the health officials, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), formerly known as crib death, is far less likely to happen to babies properly positioned for sleeping.

The campaign for safer sleeping will cost $7.5 million in federal, state and private sources such as the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). Videos for new mothers in local hospitals, signs on buses, radio ads and even door-to-door information are all being planned to increase awareness of safe sleeping for infants. Dr. Gena O’Keefe, the group’s director of healthy community initiatives, says the plan is to reach new mothers, families, caregivers, and everyone that is a part of a new baby’s life.

“It’s about changing people’s behavior,” she said. “To do that, we have to get out there in their community.”

Matthews says she had a crib for her son, but sometimes let him sleep with her and her husband. When he did not wake up one morning, she was devastated. Now she hopes being a part of this campaign will help another family from facing the same thing.

“I thought it was better,” said the 25-year-old North Baltimore mother. “I was afraid if he was in his crib he’d choke and he’d be alone. This way he’d be close. And he’d be comfortable near his mother.”

For more information on Baby Safety Month and safe sleeping for infants, visit the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association website. – Summer, staff writer

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About the author


Summer is a mom of three, living life in the slow lane along historic Route 66. She writes, homeschools, gardens, and is still trying to learn how to knit.


  • I find it extremely disconcerting to once again see people’s tax dollars being combined with money from the crib industry to warn people against co-sleeping.

    There is no 100% safe place for a baby to sleep and with all of the crib recalls in recent months, it should be obvious that a crib is not by default a safe place either.

    Parents should make an educated decision about where their baby sleeps and should do everything possible to make that place as safe as possible, whether it is in the parents’ bed, a crib, or a bassinet.

    More info on co-sleeping safety here:

  • “The cause of Charlie’s death has not been determined, however Matthews is certain that co-sleeping is what is to blame.”

    SIDS is heart breaking, but to blame co-sleeping does not make sense. And, I take issue with SIDS being discussed in the same paragraph as commentary on *explained* infant death (ie: suffocation, smothering, etc…). This confuses the issue for a lot of people about what SIDS actually is while simultaneously vilifying co-sleeping for its supposed “dangers” (preventable when done mindfully) and glossing over the various risks today’s cribs pose: we’ve ALL seen the recalls.

    I hope everyone has an opportunity to read Annie’s post (link in previous comment, but I’ll add it here, too: for more balanced and realistic piece on infant sleep and safe choices.

  • Heartbreaking as it is to lose a child, I don’t see that linking an unknown causes death with co-sleeping is doing anyone good service.
    Safe sleeping for babies and parents is what should be promoted, and there are ways of safely co-sleeping to gain from the benefits shown by sound medical research.
    Co-sleeping isn’t the villain – shoddy statistical research and reporting are!

  • Thank you for your comments.

    I have changed the title because I think that it’s doing more harm than good.

    Our intention when posting this was to create awareness about the need to create a safe sleeping space for your baby.

    And while I know that co-sleeping can be done safely, some new parents are doing it unintentionally because they are exhausted, which can lead to tragedy.

    There are many factors that lead to Sudden Infant Death including an over dressed crib, unsafe co-sleeping, defective cribs or those that are not put together properly and poor sleep positioning.

    Hopefully the media blast that will occur in September for Baby Safety Month will help parents make safe choices.

  • I am a parent who co-slept with both my first and second child.

    I believed in the benefits for both the baby and us as parents and I was one of those people who believed that if done properly it is safe.

    That is until one night in 2009 when we lost our second son Liam. Liam was only 3 months old at the time. We went to bed as we always had (and up until then we had no problems), but this particular night sometime between 1-3am I rolled over SLIGHTLY and suffocated my son. To know that you caused the death of your child and it could have been avoided is devastating.

    “When done properly” doesn’t cover off tragic accidents that can (and do) happen – take it from me. Did I mean for this to happen? NO. Will I ever get over the guilt I feel every day? I don’t know but to this day I haven’t.

    From one parent who’s lived the worst case scenario I can’t warn parents enough against co-sleeping. The guilt, sadness, and heartache I feel could have been avoided and my baby boy would be with us today.

  • My wife and I recently had our first child and I was very clear from the beginning that we would not co-sleep – under any circumstance.

    I am a paramedic and I’ve been called to many calls where infants have been injured or killed by co-sleeping.

    I’ve seen situations where the baby has rolled slightly and suffocated between the parent and the bed, or by a sheet/blanket, I’ve seen situations where the parents have rolled on top of their children (as noted in the comment above) and in all cases these parents have been devastated.

    I know how tired both my wife and I have been at times (especially in the early days after my sons arrival) and I can’t imagine that at any time we could say we would be fully aware of the baby should we co-sleep.

    I know that parents who do co-sleep feel very strongly about it. At the end of the day it’s each parent’s decision to make but you need to understand and accept the consequence of what can happen.

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