A heartbroken mother warns of the hidden dangers of ‘unsafe sleep’ after her little baby suffocates in bed.
Alexandria Bowerman, 23, had dropped her two-month-old off at a family member’s house for the night so she could have some “time to recharge”.
The new mom from Tennessee, USA, made sure her ‘healthy’ baby Derrick Stone had everything he needed for a night away from her – including his safe sleeping bed.
But less than 12 hours late on the morning of January 1, 2021, Alexandria received a devastating phone call telling her that her little Derrick had choked to death in his sleep that night.
“I was shocked – my world was destroyed,” said the hotel worker.
“I was sure the ambulance would get him and take him to the hospital and revive him,” she recalls.
But the fire department had already determined that the baby had no pulse and decided not to call an ambulance.
Two months later, investigators determined that the baby had died due to unsafe sleeping practices.
“He was not laid down securely to sleep, but placed in an adult bed with his head on a pillow,” Alexandria explained.
“One pillow is already a choking hazard, but it caused him to roll over in his sleep and then suffocate on the adult mattress,” she added.
According to this, approximately 3,400 babies die each year in the United States from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as sudden infant death syndrome Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although the cause of death is not always clear and often cannot be prevented, in 2020 at least 905 of those deaths were attributed to accidental asphyxiation.
According to the NHS, around 200 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly in the UK every year.
Recent research found that three in five British parents have not received training on how to reduce the risk of infant death.
By sharing her story, the new mom hopes to help educate others about safe sleep practices and encourage other moms to speak up about their needs.
“I’ve definitely accepted it for what it is, and I’ve gotten a grip on my grief now that I know it’s productive,” she said.
Alexandria now participates in monthly meetings with the local health department on infant loss cases and infant mortality rates.
“My advice to others would be to become aware of safe sleeping early on. Learn the ABCs of safe sleep which is: Alone, on your back and in your own cot.”
She added: “If you want someone to look after your child, babysit it or even really hold it, it doesn’t matter how old it is. He needs to be aware of what safe sleep looks like.”
“You have to know how to practice it so that nothing happens.”
How to reduce the risk of SIDS
This is what you can do to reduce SIDS risk, says the NHS
- For the first 6 months, put your baby to sleep on their back, in the same room as you
- Keep your baby’s head uncovered – the blanket should be tucked no higher than the shoulders
- When carrying your baby in a sling or carrier, do not cover the head with the sling material or muslin
- Place your baby in the “toe-to-toe” position, with feet at the end of the crib or bassinet
- Don’t let your baby get too hot or too cold
- Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair
- Don’t smoke if you’re pregnant or around your baby after birth, and don’t let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby
New research has found that using a specially made baby cot, called a pēpi pod, can reduce the risk of infant deaths by 22 percent.
Pēpi-Pods are small portable plastic beds that create a physical protective zone for a baby when sharing a bed with parents.
They are specially made beds that allow babies to sleep safely with their parents.
Run by several Australian universities and health organizations, the program involved 900 families with babies from Australia between 2010 and 2018.
Parents received a Pēpi pod and individualized education on infant breathing and safe sleep strategies.
The experts found a staggering 75 percent drop in infant mortality rates in areas where the community was most involved in the program.
In June, a corner concluded that a newborn had died could have been prevented when a pēpi pod was used.