ESSEX COUNTY, New Jersey - Health and law enforcement officials in New Jersey issued a new warning Wednesday about the dangers of babies sleeping in the same beds with their parents.
Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino addressed what experts say is a preventable threat, stressing that infants should be laid down to sleep in their own cribs with no pillows, thick bunting, big blankets or stuffed toys.
"I don't think people realize the danger of having children sleep in the beds with them," he said. "Probably, they had slept in their parents' bed in the past. We also don't think that they probably fully appreciate how soft surfaces can be extremely dangerous to a child, that can actually result in the child's suffocation."
The warning comes after three infants who were in bed with their parents or an older sibling died from suffocation in one 40-hour period over a weekend. There was no criminality in any of the cases, which were deemed horrible tragedies.
"We had a tragic case in one of the local municipalities where the mom felt that the crib mattress -- it was her first baby -- she thought it was awfully hard," assistant prosecutor Kate Lyon said. "So she put the baby to sleep on the pillow, and the baby died. So you understand why she did it, but it goes against instinct. But they must do this. It's got to be a firm surface, tight sheets. They cannot sleep with siblings. We had one with a 2-year-old in a Futon who accidentally rolled over."
Social workers at all Essex County hospitals can arrange for new parents to receive a crib free of charge so that their precious and fragile bodies are free from sleeping dangers.