Health officials: Sleeping beside your baby is not safe

Special Report: Sleeping beside your baby is not safe, health experts say »

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Sleeping in the same bed with your baby may sound logical, even comforting. But health officials warn it’s not safe.

Now, a mother is speaking out after her newborn died right next to her.

Amanda Saucedo is a mother of three and said after her second baby, she never really understood the dangers of co-sleeping. She tells Eyewitness News the bedtime routine was the same every night: she would put her newborn son, Ben, to sleep in his bassinet. After a few hours, Ben would wake up and Saucedo would bring him into her bed to breastfeed him and they would fall asleep together.

Saucedo’s life changed forever on the morning of November 19, 2014, when she woke up next to Ben’s lifeless body. The Medical Examiner told her that Ben had suffocated.

Saucedo said that’s something he will never forget.

“I was surprised when he said that he suffocated because, well you know, his airways were clear and we were in the same spot that we were when I had fallen asleep and he had. He’s like, ‘no it could’ve been something as simple as your hand on his stomach because he’s so tiny,'” she recalled.

“Or what we think happened is I was exhaling in his face and it created this pocket where he couldn’t get enough oxygen, and it slowly suffocates someone when they don’t get enough oxygen,” Saucedo continued. “Who knows what exactly happened, but it’s hard to think that if I hadn’t brought him in my bed I would still have, he would still be here.”

Saucedo said part of the grieving process is sharing Ben’s story. She’s started a nonprofit in his name: Benny Bears. Their goal is to educate new parents on safe sleeping practices so no family has to live with the pain she does every day.

“I think probably always feel guilty,” added Saucedo. “It’s not as heavy as it used to be. It used to just consume my whole life. Now I’ve forgiven myself a little bit, but yeah, something I’ll carry forever. If I hadn’t brought him into my bed I would probably have a two-and-a-half-year-old kid running around right now.”

Eyewitness News checked with the Rhode Island Department of Health, and we’ve learned there were eight deaths related to parents sleeping with a baby over the past two years.

“Across the country, we know about 3,500 babies die each year during sleep, and often in unsafe sleep environments,” said Kristine Campagna, head of the Health Department’s Office of Newborn Screening. “Some of these are caused by entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation which often happen during co-sleeping.”

Guidelines on co-sleeping from the American Academy of Pediatrics and National Institutes of Health are clear: babies should sleep alone.

“Place your baby to sleep on his back for every sleep, so during naps and in the evening,” said Campagna. “If they fall asleep in a car seat or other place, take your baby and put them back in the crib. And even if they do fall asleep while you are in bed or on the couch or breastfeeding, again, as soon as your baby falls asleep, pick up your baby and put them in a crib.”

The Health Department also recommends making sure the sheet is tight-fitting when placing the baby in a crib or bassinet, and avoiding soft bedding, including crib bumpers.

It’s fine for children to share a bedroom with parents, according to officials, but not the same sleeping surface. And just as important: never use alcohol, drugs, or tobacco while caring for a baby. Health officials say the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is much higher for a baby who shares a bed with an audit who smokes or uses drugs or alcohol.

Saucedo hopes by telling her story it will prevent another baby from dying.