Child Safety

Unsafe Sleeping Conditions Blamed for Spike in Texas County’s Infant Deaths

As a mom of two I know that preparing for, and caring for a baby can be incredibly hard.  There is so much information out there and so many products are being thrown at you as the ‘one’, and must-haves – it really is daunting to pick through all of the facts to determine what is right for your family. To be honest, most of us are less, ‘trying to keep up with trends’, and more just ‘trying to get through the day’.  And sometimes the pure exhaustion of being a new parent causes us to make mistakes that could cause our babies their lives.

The big educational push over the last few years from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ has been safe sleeping conditions.  Sadly, the images we see in the media, and online of ‘beautiful’ nurseries contradict almost every rule that the AAP provides, which can be confusing for parents. I mean really?  How UNSAFE is the nursery Jennifer Lopez created for her twins?  And this image was printed inside one of the number one selling magazines in the world – People.

Jenifer Lopez's twin nursery

Jenifer Lopez’s twin nursery

The alarm is being sounded again this week after the medical examiner’s office in Travis County, Texas revealed that thirteen infant suffocation deaths were reported in their county last year, with 11 of the deaths being associated with bed-sharing.

The medical examiner’s office is asking parents and caretakers not to sleep with their babies, or use blankets to keep them warm,  due to risk of suffocation. Six of the deaths, they say, occurred during the winter months of January, February and December.

“When they sleep with a parent or caregiver either on a bed or a couch, the surface of the mattress is very, very soft, so they can suffocate in that,” Leanne Courtney, a forensic nurse and senior investigator with Travis County told

Adding that, “A baby’s risk of suffocation is 40 times greater if they’re in and adult bed.”

Ms. Courtney also warned about the use of bumper pads.

“The baby can actually roll over and get their face wedged into that bumper pad,” noting that blankets can also be dangerous in a crib. “If the baby moves around, the comforter can actually move and cover the baby’s face.”

If warmth is a concern for parents, it is recommended that babies sleep in a sack that will either swaddle the baby’s arms and upper body, or allow them their arms to be free as they get older.  Most sleep sack companies make their sleeping bags in various fabric weights so that they are perfect for all seasons.

Halo Innovations Sleep Sack Swaddle Micro Fleece Cream

Halo Innovations Sleep Sack Swaddle Micro Fleece Cream

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations to increase safety for sleeping babies are simple and as easy as A-B-C. Babies should sleep:

  • Alone: Bed-sharing, which is sleeping with a baby on a bed, couch, floor or in a chair, is dangerous. Babies should sleep alone, not with an adult, child or animal. Room sharing with a baby is a better way to sleep near your little one.
  • On their Back: Not on their side or tummy. Place babies on their back for every sleep time, including naps and at night.
  • In a safety-approved Crib: Put babies on a firm surface, preferably a safety-approved crib with a firm crib mattress covered by a fitted sheet. Do not use bumper pads, pillows, blankets, sheep skins, soft objects, toys or stuffed animals anywhere in your baby’s sleep area. (Safety approved bassinets, play yards and portable cribs are acceptable).


About the author

Lisa Arneill

Mom of 2 boys and founder of and World Traveled Family. When I'm not running around after my boys, I'm looking for our next vacation spot!

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