A seven-week-old baby died unexpectedly after her mother, Shelby Sands, fell asleep while bottle feeding in bed, a court in Norfolk, England has heard.
Sands, 19, arrived home in the early morning of July 3, 2016 after a night out and took her daughter, Deleilah Woodford, into bed for a feed.
The baby was found face-down at the bottom of the bed the following morning. Resuscitation attempts by a next-door neighbour nurse and paramedics were unsuccessful.
“The most likely explanation is that she was in the bed and got smothered accidentally because she was face down,” Norfolk Area Coroner Yvonne Blake said at the inquest into the Deleilah’s death.
“If you happen to get a baby in a face down position, they are not strong enough to move,” she continued. “Everyone accepts it is a terrible tragedy, particularly for you. You would not have done it, if you thought it would happen,” she said, addressing the 19-year-old mother.
Speaking to media after the hearing, Sands urged mothers to “think again” before feeding their babies in bed and shared her grief over the loss of their “little princess”.
“I will never forget Deleilah. She will always be in our hearts,” she said. Sands has a two-year old son, Deacon, and is expecting another son, Marley, in coming months.
The night before the accident, Sands and her partner Wezley Woodford attended a VW rally in Holt, a town near to their home in Stibbard.
Sands’ sister Abbi, 22, babysat Delilah and Deacon, along with her own child. She woke around 1:30am on the morning of July 3 to feed Deleilah, but Sands came home and took over.
Abby described Sands to police as being “tipsy” but not drunk. The following morning, she entered the bedroom to wake the couple and saw Deleilah face-down at the bottom of the bed.
“It makes me feel really bad,” Sands said at the hearing yesterday, which she attended with her mother Sarah, 47.
The coroner tried to alleviate some of the young mother’s guilt.
“You don’t need to be sorry about anything,” Blake said. “All parents have had moments, where if you could go back in time, you would change it. Clearly there was no malice or intention. It was just a terrible tragedy.”