Tragedy of 25-day-old baby girl who died after mother fell asleep while holding her in bed

A coroner has warned parents against holding newborn infants in bed following the tragic and accidental death of a child.

Thursday, 13th April 2017, 3:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 7:06 pm
The coroner said "the public must know about the dangers of holding babies in this way".

A baby girl died in her mother’s arms aged just 25-days-old after they fell asleep together while sat up in bed.

Because of the sensitivity of this accident, we have chosen not to identify the family affected.

HM Coroner Anne Pember said at the baby’s inquest: “This is a very sad and untimely death, and the mother had no intention of falling asleep.

“The public must know about the dangers of holding babies in this way.”

Following an emergency cesarian, the mother, a woman from Daventry, gave birth to a baby girl in June 2016, weighing 8lbs 7oz.

Her mother, in a statement read out by the coroner at the inquest, said: “When I was younger, I was told I would not be able to have children. My partner and I were so surprised when we were told I was pregnant.

“She was such a good baby girl, who slept and fed well. She was a lazy baby and I would have to wake her up just to feed her.

“She loved sitting in her beanbag. She was a real daddy’s girl.”

In the days before her death, the little girl became “whingy and clingy”, and would cry whenever she was put down, the inquest heard.

She slept in a cot next to her parents’ bed. Then one night in July 2016, she woke her parents up three times for feeding. Her mother said: “At around 3.30am, I carried her to bed with me. I sat up and held her in my arms while I fed her. I didn’t mean to fall asleep.”

When the mother woke up, it was 7.15am. The mother said: “She was lying on the mattress next to my hip. She wasn’t breathing.

“I woke my partner and he called 999. I don’t remember much of what happened after that.”

A paramedic arrived within minutes but saw that the girl had died some time ago.

HM Coroner Anne Pember said: “She was found lying on her front on the mattress. A post-mortem found evidence that her airway had been blocked.

“This was an accidental death and the mother had no intention of falling asleep. Very often, parents will carry their newborn babies to bed with no consequences, but the public must know about the dangers of holding babies in this way.”

A spokeswoman from The Lullaby Trust, a charity dedicated to reducing instances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), said: “The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a cot or Moses basket in your room. We know that many families bed share with their babies, particularly in the early months, and we advise all parents to make sure they are aware of the advice regarding bedsharing.

“There is a higher risk of SIDS occurring during co-sleeping if you or your partner smokes, has drunk alcohol, is overtired, or taken any drugs or medication. The risk is also higher if your baby was born prematurely or at a low birth weight.

“The Lullaby Trust would like to extend its sympathies to the family at this difficult time. We offer free, non-judgemental bereavement support to anyone affected by the sudden and unexpected death of a baby. Our free bereavement support phoneline is available seven days a week on 0808 802 6868, and we also have a befriending service where we put bereaved parents in touch with others who have gone through a similar experience for extra support.”