A tiny baby smothered to death by her own mother. In a week too full of stories of unthinkable things happening to newborns, another one seems too depressing for words. But this one is not what you think.
The baby girl was suffocated when her mother fell asleep while breastfeeding her.
The court case has just been dismissed in New Zealand when it was decided that there was not enough evidence to push for a conviction of the mother, who admitted to being alcohol-affected on the night in question. She says that she lay down on the couch to feed her baby, fell asleep, and when she woke, her daughter was dead beneath her.
Heartbreaking. Sad. Entirely avoidable.
The conversations around babies and sleep are always emotive ones. How often, how much, and for how long. But nothing is more controversial than where.
Do you put your baby down in a sleeping space of their own as soon as they come home? Will there be a wall between you, or an arm’s length? Will you pull your baby into bed with you to feed while you try to snooze, or will you always take them to sit in the approved upright position, staying absolutely alert until they sleep again?
All of these decisions might be personal ones, but this is a matter of fact and not opinion – there are safe ways for babies to sleep, and there are dangerous ways for babies to sleep.
A new study carried out in the US has found that half of all American babies are sleeping in unsafe spaces. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed 19,000 parents, and found that more than half put their babies to sleep with pillows, blankets cuddly toys or comforters – all items that are considered seriously dangerous for small babies.