When it comes to infant safety, the doctor who checked my firstborn out of the hospital gave me some amazing parenting advice I’ve never forgotten. It’s so simple, but so important, that I’ve repeated it to many new parents over the years. “When you need to put the baby down, put the baby on the floor,” he said. “The baby cannot fall off the floor.”
It is infant safety advice my husband and I took to heart. At home or at friends’ houses, if we didn’t have a swing or bouncy seat to put the baby in, we laid him down to sleep or play on the floor. This is parenting advice that Tennessee mom Paige Ferguson certainly wishes she had followed. Since her son Colton suffered a tragic head injury earlier this year, Paige has become an infant safety advocate. She does not want any other parents or children do go through what her son and her family have gone through.
In a Facebook post last March, Paige posted a photo of her sweet son in the hospital, and described what had gotten him there: a two-foot fall from a queen-sized bed where she thought he could sleep safely. In an article on Parents.com, Paige explained that she and her fiancé were at a friend’s house with six-month-old Colton when they decided to lay him down for a nap on the bed. They surrounded the sleeping infant with pillows and sat right outside the door while he was napping.
Then they heard him fall—and cry out. The pillows had not protected him from rolling off the bed, and his parents found that he had a bump on his head. They immediately tried to calm him and see if he was ok. Paige wrote on Facebook:
“He had a bump on his head. A bump. He was crying, acting alert and at one point even smiled. Because we are paranoid parents, we decided to get him evaluated. We thought for sure they were going to say he hit his head, has a bump, and he will be fine. Not the case…”
Unfortunately, the stunned parents were told that their baby was far from okay. He was fighting for his life. He had begun to vomit and show signs of stress, and a CT scan revealed a fractured skull and a very serious brain bleed. Then, when half the blood in his body rushed to his brain, he went into cardiac arrest.
In a follow-up Facebook post, Paige writes of hearing horrifying words from the doctor:
“I was literally told today, ‘Ma’am, I need you to understand that there’s a good possibility that your son is going to die.’ As a parent…this was the absolute worst thing I can possibly imagine.”
Thankfully, Colton survived his ordeal, but he is not without the lasting effects of the fall from that bed. The once healthy little boy now suffers from severe epilepsy and cerebral palsy, and his parents and doctors are working with medications, occupational, speech, and physical therapy to help him recover as much as possible as he grows.
Any extra time Paige has is now devoted to spreading infant safety awareness and to let parents know that it is never, ever safe to lay their baby to sleep on a bed. The type of fall that Colton suffered is a leading cause of head trauma in infants, and they are almost always preventable.
Pediatrician Dr. Jen Trachtenburg told Parents.com, “I can’t stress enough that you should never leave your newborn/infant on a bed (even before you think they can roll) because they still may roll off or suffocate from the pillows surrounding them. Always have one hand on Baby while on a changing table and make sure Baby is secured in a car seat properly in a moving vehicle.”
If you know a new parent, if you have ANY advice to give at a baby shower, please share the good advice I was given: “Put the baby on the floor. The baby can’t fall of the floor.” And, share Colton’s story, so that as his mom Paige hopes and prays, no family will have to suffer what hers has because of a preventable accident. Still, as she says in the Facebook post below, she is so thankful that her boy is ALIVE, and knows that God has a plan for him—and so are we.
Let’s honor Colton’s sweet, precious life by sharing his story!