700 Children's Blog

From Tragedy to Education: The ABCs of Safe Sleep

Oct 18, 2017

It was a Tuesday evening.

It was a typical night that turned out to not be typical at all. My baby, Jaya, and I were together in my room. I had just changed her diaper and she was doing her usual tummy time. Dad came by, but didn’t stay long because he had to go to work.

Lying next to Jaya, I was talking to her and admiring her. I was a first-time mom and was so in awe and in love. She was next to me on her back and eventually, we both fell asleep. It would have only taken a few seconds to put her in her bassinet, which was right next to my bed.

I woke up well-rested, which was surprising because Jaya would wake me up for a bottle in the middle of the night. I started preparing a bottle and talking to her, when I noticed she was still sleep. I reached over to pick her up and realized she wasn’t breathing.

I panicked. I screamed for my sister who was downstairs and I started CPR. My sister came up, called an ambulance and picked up my baby because I couldn’t stop crying and screaming. The ambulance transported Jaya to the hospital where they tried to revive her, but couldn’t.

As a first-time mom, I thought I did everything right. I planned my pregnancy, ate healthy and attended all of my prenatal appointments. Jaya was well cared for and loved. I thought I did everything right.

A mother’s first job is to protect her baby and I suffer every day feeling like I failed because I couldn’t save my daughter. I’m sharing my story in the hope that no parent or caregiver needs to feel this kind of pain and no other baby loses his or her life. Always follow the ABCs of Safe Sleep.

A stands for Alone. Your baby should sleep alone, in a separate space, for every sleep (naps and night-time). This space could be a crib, a Pack and Play, or a bassinet.

B stands for Back. All babies should be put to sleep on their backs, not their stomachs or sides. This position has been shown to decrease the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths, because babies are less likely to suffocate on other objects or their own gases when they are on their backs. A common concern among parents is that babies will choke and aspirate if they are laid on their backs to sleep. This is not the case.

C stands for Crib. Babies should sleep in their own cribs (or a safety-approved portable crib or bassinet). To prevent the risks of suffocation and death, the crib should have a firm mattress with a fitted sheet. There should be nothing else in the crib besides your baby, such as blankets, stuffed animals, toys, bumper pads, or pillows, because there is a chance that your baby could roll over and suffocate on them.

Please learn from my loss and always follow the ABCs of Safe Sleep. For more information, click here.

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700 Children’s features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.