We’ve all been loathe to wake a sleeping baby, but that innocent decision had tragic consequences for this mum.
An inquest in the UK has been told the circumstances behind the death of three-month-old baby Leia-Mai Smith, who died after being left to sleep in a bouncer while her mother and siblings napped on the nearby lounge.
After returning home from a shopping trip, Leia-Mai’s mum, Danielle Jones, placed the sleeping baby in her bouncer, and lay down on the lounge with one of her other children for a nap.
At 4.30am the next morning, Danielle awoke and found Leia-Mai not breathing and unresponsive.
Paramedics attempted unsuccessfully to resuscitate Leia-Mae.
An Awful Mistake
Danielle explained in her heartbreaking statement to the inquest: “I woke up at around 4.30am and saw that Leia-Mai was not breathing and her lips had turned blue. I took her out of the swing, gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and dialled 999. When the paramedics arrived I pleaded with them to get my baby to breathe.”I woke up at around 4.30am and saw that Leia-Mai was not breathing and her lips had turned blue
“It all seemed so unreal, like a bad dream, and I thought I would suddenly wake up and it would all be OK. I love my children dearly and live every day with this pain. She may just have been a baby but she was my baby.”
The inquest was told that the bouncer did have a warning label on it, saying that children should not be left in it unattended. Since this tragedy the manufacturers’ warnings have changed and parents are now warned that baby bouncers are ‘not intended for long periods of sleeping.’
Sadly, a definite answer explaining exactly what happened was unavailable.
“The pathologist was unable to provide a cause of death. There are features of hypoxia present but also sudden infant death syndrome remains a possible cause.” says Senior Coroner for Gloucestershire Katy Skerrett.
A bouncinette (also known as a bouncer or rocker) is a chair that allows baby to either bounce or rock in a reclined position. Kidspot advises that you find one that isn’t too bulky and doesn’t have legs that extend far beyond the seat – this will save you tripping over them.
The recommendations for bouncer use from sidsandkids.org are:
There is no Australian standard for bouncinettes. Accidents can occur in bouncinettes. Accidents have occurred where baby has become trapped in the restraining, when the bouncinette has fallen from a high surface or been placed where baby could get caught in curtain or blind cords. Deaths have occurred when baby has been left unsupervised to sleep in a bouncinette.
- Only use a bouncinette on the floor
- Never carry a baby in a bouncinette
- Never leave a baby unattended in a bouncinette
Babies are capable of getting into dangerous situations when they sleep and so you need to ensure that their sleeping environment is safe before you put them to bed.
The safe sleeping position:
- You should always place your baby on his back to sleep.
- Don’t put your baby to sleep on his side as he may roll forward onto his stomach, which is an unsafe sleeping position.
- Make the cot up with the sheets tucked in low down in the cot – when you place your baby into bed, his feet should almost be touching the end of the cot.
- Don’t let the bedding come up any higher than your baby’s shoulder. Your baby’s head should always remain completely uncovered.
What happened in the UK is a tragedy, but sadly, it is easy to see how it happened. Babies just look so sweet and comfortable when they’re asleep in their prams and bouncers – combine that with the fact that we parents are exhausted and desperate for those babies of ours to be settled, it is understandable that a tired mum might leave her babe to rest like that.
So please, be vigilant – know that the best practice is to never, ever leave your baby unsupervised in a pram, bouncer or bouncinette, and definitely don’t leave your baby to sleep in those products for any length of time.