Co-Sleeping Doesn’t Explain Toddler’s Sudden & Mysterious Death in Mom's Bed

duvetA 15-month-old child died suddenly after trying to sleep with her mother. And you know where this story is going to go -- someone is going to blame co-sleeping. Mother Kristy Hainsborough was sleeping on a sofa; her husband was sleeping on another sofa with their daughters, toddler Sienna-Louise and her baby sister. Sienna-Louise apparently got up in the night and crawled under the duvet to sleep with her mother. Kristy found her near her feet the next morning, dead.

Investigators say Sienna-Louise died of sudden childhood death syndrome, which is much less common than sudden infant death syndrome. Coroner Paul Kelly says co-sleeping was "a factor" in that death. But isn't that going too far?

I had no idea sudden child death syndrome even existed -- that definitely sends chills down my spine. It's extremely rare (1.5 cases in 100,000 births), affects children mostly age 1 through 3, and occurs more often in boys than girls.

Since Sienna-Louise was found underneath a duvet, I would think suffocation would be the culprit, not SCDS. But a thorough investigation was done, so I suppose we'll have to take their word for it. Still, I don't think we have to bring co-sleeping in as a factor. The link between SIDS and co-sleeping has been questioned by doctors and researchers. There's contradictory research suggesting that co-sleeping might even lower your child's risk for SIDS and SCDS.

Kristy and her husband say they had been warned of the risks of co-sleeping. It seems they made the choice to co-sleep anyway, for whatever reason. But I don't think we should blame co-sleeping for their daughter's tragic early death.

Do you think co-sleeping is a factor in SIDS or SCDS?


Image via Deron Bauman/Flickr

toddler sleep, safety, in the news


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Ariel Napier

Blaming co-sleeping is going to far.  It is just an excuse for someone against co-sleeping to show "risks" from co-sleeping.  I have actually heard of children between 1 and 4 dying from was on an episode of Law and Order about  8 yrs ago so I researched it then.  I still advocate co-sleeping and think asphyxiation is to blame.


Rosamond Marie Yarborough

If the baby got up to sleep with Mom then it was the baby's choice to sleep with Mom. Maybe somehow she knew what was coming and wanted to be near her comfort source.

LadyM... LadyMinni

Because you're a medical professional? You went to eight years of medical school, then at least two years of additional schooling to specialize as a coroner, and were then elected to be coroner? No, you are not and you did not. So why do you automatically assume that the coroner was wrong? Because he said something you believe in may be dangerous.

I personally highly doubt that co-sleeping caused this unless it was due to asphyxiation, but I am also not a medical professional. I know very little about SCDS. The reason the coroner is blaming co-sleeping is because SCDS (or SUDC, as it is more commonly known) can only happen when the child is sleeping, so of course how the child was sleeping is taken into account. Babies and toddlers are considered to be at a much greater risk of suffocation when sleeping in an adult bed, usually while co-sleeping. That's why co-sleeping is blamed. Suffocation is commonly the cause of death in SIDS cases, but it does not present in a way that is identifiable.

Oddly enough, the American Academy of Pediatrics has found that a pacifier reduces the risk of SIDS. So give your baby a pacifier while they sleep. This is where my doctor directed me to look:

NoR_C... NoR_CaL_MoMmY

I've co-slept with all three of my children. My youngest will be two next month and still nurses and co-sleeps. I've always loved it and it goes me piece of mind. I feel much more in tune with my kids when they are right next to me. I would worry way more about sids if if they were in their own bed in their own room. I wouldn't be able to sleep! I'm a very, very light sleeper though so they make one little peep and I wake up. It works for my family and it's what we enjoy. Everyone is different though. If you drink a lot, do drugs, or are a very heavy sleeper I wouldn't recommend co-sleeping.

tntmo... tntmom1027

i knew a family that lost a girl 18mths of sds....she was in her crib.

Tiffany Towner

I agree, blaming co-sleeping is goin too far.  I have five kids, all of which co-slept  with us.  I have always felt like I wouldn't hear them in the night if I wasn't right there with them.  My 3 year old still sleeps in our bed even though we bought her a toddler bed and put right next to our bed.  If she falls asleep before we go to sleep I put her in her bed.  Although she always finds her way back to me. 

Sandra Brown

I had both of my children sleep between my husband and myself from the time they were little. I never had any problems with them waking up the next morning. You just have to be careful, and make sure where they are on the bed. I'm a light sleeper and if anything is beside me or anything is out of the oridinary I always seem to know.

mandy... mandysue88

This is sad....I have a 3 and 4 year old that always slept in our beds....they have their own beds but prefer being with us. Intact I try to move them into thair own beds but they end up on ours either way. This scares me almost as much as SIDS when they were infants. I watched them sleep for hours just to make sure it never husband thought I was crazy lol, but my children are all I want in this whole world I couldn't imagine what this mom is going threw! This story is gonna make me watch my kids sleep rest for this mom.

Sarha Hardin

If I ever found my baby dead I would die. I would just die. I know people believe different things but I don't think this would have happened if that baby was a in a crib. 

Denise Pettit

I have co slept with my Children for many years with no problem & many cultures co sleeping families ,The childs Death had nothing to do with co sleeping thats CRAZY

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