Most parents of infants are hyper aware of how to put their infants to sleep safely to prevent SIDS or crib death. We all read the baby books and parenting class information about putting baby to sleep on his or her back, and keeping the crib free of blankets, bedding and stuffed animals that might cause an immobile infant to suffocate. But what about suffocation and crib death dangers for toddlers? One Scottish mum thought their was no danger for her 18-month-old toddler, and tragically, she now has reason to warn parents otherwise.
Dexy Walsh tragically lost her little girl, Connie Rose, last March when she suffocated under a large teddy bear in her bed. The 18-month-old was sleeping in a “big girl bed” that had a guard rail on one side. There was a gap between the bed and the wall on the other side, and wanting to protect Connie Rose from falling between the wall and bed and getting stuck, Walsh put a giant teddy bear in the bed against the wall. Though she thought she was protecting her child, her actions had tragic consequences.
Walsh told the BBC that because Connie Rose was 18 months old and perfectly mobile, she simply did not thing crib death by suffocation was a danger for her child at all. She tragically recalled the morning she found her unresponsive daughter underneath the giant teddy bear, saying:
“I got up to get my oldest ready for school, and I went over to get Connie and she was under a big teddy. I couldn’t wake her up and shouted on my partner. I put Connie on the floor and started CPR. Murray took over and he tried. My sister was on the phone to the ambulance people, explaining what to do. We were following instructions while the ambulance was on the way. Murray’s mum arrived and took over and then the ambulance came. They asked everybody to leave the room and tried for two minutes as well then came to the bedroom door. I can’t really remember what she said, I just heard ‘I’m sorry.’ I just ran back into the bedroom and grabbed her and cuddled her. They let me cozy her for a good half an hour and I kept hugging her, still hoping she would open her eyes, or grab me or something.”
On Facebook, Walsh has set up a page to warn other parents to keep toys out of their babies’ and toddler’s beds.
“I have been blaming myself as she passed away due to suffocation as I had packed down the side of her bed with teddy’s and placed a big one on top of the smaller teddy’s to stop her from falling down the side of her bed, and she did exactly that, but as it was all teddy bears she went under the massive teddy and fell asleep with the angels,” Walsh wrote on the page. “All I think about now is what if I just left it empty, she would still be here maybe with just a small bump on her head. It’s all what ifs now.”
Though the American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep guidelines (which we should ALL familiarize ourselves with) are technically for birth through twelve months of age, in light of Connie’s death, it seems parents of older toddlers would do well to keep observing the guidelines also. The bottom line is, in many, many cases, SIDS or crib death, or any kind of child death while sleeping are totally preventable. Our babies’ beds should be a safe haven, not a death trap.
Let’s honor little Connie Rose’s life, and her mother’s efforts to spread awareness, by spreading the word about child sleep safety and by ensuring that any infants and toddlers in our care have a sleeping space free of items that might cause them harm.