Sydney mum-of-four Felicity Hughes has plenty of experience when it comes to babies and cots. She’s always been careful to follow the safe sleeping guidelines. But despite that, she nearly lost her 17-month-old daughter Eleanor earlier this week when she became twisted in a blanket.
“I put her to bed as I usually do,” Hughes remembers. “She was in a sleeping bag with a light waffle-weave blanket over her. Her feet were at the bottom of the cot. The blanket was tightly tucked in at the bottom of the cot with no folded-over part. It only went to her shoulders.
“I tuned in her monitor and stood at the door so she could see me, as I do every other night. She was thrashing round, as she does. I was not looking at her, on purpose, but was listening. She went quiet suddenly and I started to ease away from the door thinking, ‘Wow, that was quick!’
“I often creep away so she can’t see me but I peeked over and thank God I did. The blanket was completely covering her head, twisted over her neck and tightly across her body. She couldn’t move and was not making any noise. It gave me a horrendous fright!
“I keep feeling sick every time I think of how I was just about to walk away.”
Hughes shared her story on social media, in the hope of preventing a tragedy. Some mums said very firmly that blankets have no place in a cot. But it was obvious that there are plenty of other parents who use blankets on their children of a similar age.
"I've already had friends contact me, saying they are taking their kids' blankets and top sheets out of their cots," Hughes tells The Motherish.
"I do think there needs to be a warning on blankets and maybe the message that babies should be put to bed with nothing in the cot, only sleeping bags."
Here's a song from The Wiggles promoting safe sleeping. Post continues after the video...
Hughes is now buying Eleanor a thicker sleeping bag so she won't need a blanket again.
"I still can't work out how exactly she did it and how quickly and quietly it happened," she says. "I was congratulating myself on how she'd finally self-settled when in fact she was possibly being smothered by her own blanket.
"She was tightly wrapped and completely covered, so I think if she'd started struggling she would have just made it worse.
"I could easily be talking about my daughter's death if I'd walked off without checking."
Do you use blankets in your child's cot?