Twins' Deaths Should End Co-Sleeping Once & For All

baby toesThe story of twins Gabriel and Tryce Medrano is more heartbreaking than any mother can imagine. Last November, the 3-week-old twins went to bed with their mother, Kiarra Kimbel, but sadly, they never woke. The coroner recently ruled the cause of death was accidental suffocation.

I simply can't fathom how that mother felt waking to find her babies beside her not breathing just three weeks after she brought them into this world. A few days before their death, Kimbel posted on Facebook: "Wow, it is amazing to have two babies. Hard work and lost sleep but way worth it. I love them so much."

And now they're gone, in a tragic accident that very well could have been prevented if she hadn't chosen to embrace the practice of co-sleeping.  

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And while I know this is going to raise the defenses of those who embrace and promote the practice, this case highlights everything that terrifies me about co-sleeping and why experts warn against it. As Bannock County Coroner Kim Quick told the Idaho State Journal, “I would like to caution those that sleep with their infants, that this is an unsafe practice.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing without bed-sharing.

I'm typically a believer in families doing whatever works best for them and their children, but when it comes to co-sleeping, it just seems too precarious to attempt with infants. Proponents say it's safe if you take precautions, that there are plenty of benefits to doing so for both mother and baby. But is it worth the risk?

For me, it never was. I would never have been able to sleep well because I was so concerned about the dangers. For friends of mine, it has worked beautifully, and they wouldn't have it any other way. But as with things like crib bumpers, for me it comes down to this: If you don't have to take the risk, why would you? And for every mom who follows every safety rule, there are surely plenty who do not, or those who usually do.

For Kimbel, it's too late to ask questions or go back and do things differently. She doesn't deserve any judgement for what happened, as it seems she was just a mom trying to do what was best for her family -- like all of us. But all of us can learn from this tragedy, really consider the real dangers that co-sleeping presents, and put an end to this practice.

Does this story change your mind about co-sleeping? If you co-sleep, why do you think it's worth the risks?


Image via sabianmaggy/Flickr

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