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Baby Dies Sleeping On Grandmother's Chest

Last updated on Friday, August 17, 2012

(INDIANAPOLIS) - It happened early Wednesday morning in Indianapolis; a baby boy was sleeping on his grandmother’s chest. The baby’s mother wakes up the grandmother when she realizes the baby hasn’t been crying, and they discover the baby isn’t breathing.

A lot of caregivers and new parents find themselves in similar situations. The baby is crying, the parent is exhausted so he or she holds the baby and both fall asleep. Unfortunately something so innocent can be deadly.

"Unfortunately it's an issue that happens more than people realize," says Sharon Johns, Program Director of Perinatal Support Services at St. Vincent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 4500 babies die every year in the US from Sudden Unexpected Infant Death.

"Babies are inherently nose breathers so when their face is covered or they're up against something and they're re breathing their own air yes that leads to death," says Johns.

Its called accidental suffocation and it's under the same umbrella as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but the two are different. SIDS usually can't be explained through an investigation, unlike suffocation.

"Parents when they go home with a new baby, it's exhausting and sometimes even not meaning to they can fall asleep with a baby in their arms on a couch in the bed in a recliner and it can end up being very devastating," says Johns.

Johns recommends not putting anything but a firm mattress in the crib, meaning no pillows, stuffed animals, blankets or bumpers. And always lay the baby on its back. Also, when getting up in the middle of the night, make sure to put the baby back in its own sleeping space.

"Everybody that takes care of the baby: parents, grandparents, child care providers, babysitters, all need to be doing exactly the same thing," says Johns.

Johns mentions breast feeding can make moms a little more relaxed and sleepy, which is why it's so essential to make sure to put the baby back in its own bed. She highly recommends room sharing; that way it's easier to put the baby back in its own bed, while still being able to hear cries coming from the baby.

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