Every mother knows the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night to feed a hungry, crying baby. By the time her son John was seven weeks old, new mother Kristin Hoffman was already familiar with those sleepless nights.
One night, the habitual night feeding turned tragic
Hoffman picked up her crying son from his crib and went back to her own bed to breastfeed. While feeding, she drifted off back to sleep and didn't wake up until the morning.
By then, it was too late
When Hoffman awoke, she found her baby boy had passed away in his sleep.
"My precious son slipped off my breast and into the covers of my bed early Sunday morning and into heaven," Hoffman said in a Facebook post.
While Hoffman was sleeping, her son had suffocated in her bed sheets.
Now she is speaking out so this doesn't happen to anyone else
"No matter how tired you are as a mother, GET UP AND GO TO A CHAIR or somewhere you wont [sic] fall asleep when you feed your child at night," she said.
Hoffman said choosing a chair over a bed while breastfeeding could ultimately be the deciding factor between life and death for a child.
Preventing tragedies like this in the future
While co-sleeping is a popular trend, there are some serious risks. Instead, experts suggest letting your baby sleep in their own crib next to your bed to help keep them safe. Also, follow these guidelines:
Infants should sleep without blankets, pillows or toys around them. (Swaddling is often the best alternative to keeping your baby warm without a blanket). Experts suggest that infants be kept without blankets until they're 12-18 months old.
The sleep surface should also be firm. Your sweet baby is so small, and your soft, plush mattress is much deeper for them than it is for you. Let your baby sleep in their own crib rather than letting them sleep with you.
Bedding should be stretched tight across the mattress to avoid excess fabric.
The mattress should be fitted tightly into the crib so there's no room on the sides for the baby to slip in and become stuck. This also goes for couches - babies should NEVER sleep on a couch, as the soft and removeable cushions make it easy for your baby to become trapped and unable to breathe.
Your baby should be put to bed on his or her back. Some parents insist that their baby prefers to sleep on their tummy, but this can be dangerous. Experts have found that a baby's underdeveloped brain means they can't wake themselves up if they stop breathing. If your baby is sleeping on her tummy and turns her head against the mattress, she won't be able to wake herself up to readjust her head. If your baby is old enough to start flopping onto her tummy while she sleeps, her brain has matured enough to be able to wake up if there are any breathing problems. If your baby rolls over by themselves, don't worry!
There are risks whenever you put your baby down to sleep, but each parent can take precautions to keep their baby as safe as possible.