Safe Sleep practices #StopChildAbuse

Blue Ribbon for Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month

During the day, I work an office job for Child Protective Services in Texas. I hear lots of awful stories, ones that most people would prefer not to hear. In my work at CPS, I’ve been a caseworker and a supervisor and I’ve seen, heard, and told others about abuse as a casual conversation – but it’s never casual, it’s never okay, it never gets any easier.

I think about these stories and pictures at night sometimes, especially when I’m with my boy. I want to always keep him safe, but I know that it is not always up to me. There are; however, things I can do to help prevent something bad happening – and so can you.

I read an article this morning about a woman who was found guilty of child endangerment in the death of her two month old son because she was co-sleeping with him when he died.

I wrote recently about my views on The Family Bed and I truly believe there are benefits to this bonding time – when the child is older, stronger, and better protected.

The parents in the news story above had already lost a son in 2009, possibly due to co-sleeping, and investigators found that their second son’s death in 2010 was most likely due to co-sleeping. While provided with safe sleep information, these parents chose to co-sleep and are now facing prison time.

There are so many legal, moral, ethical ramifications to this trial and the outcome, I can’t help but wonder, what is to come after this decision is made.

Is this a legal issue?

It’s not illegal to sleep with your infant, but the prosecutor in this trial argues that it is illegal to place your child in imminent danger. By co-sleeping with their infant, he feels that the infant was in imminent danger. I agree that co-sleeping with an infant can be imminent danger, but how do we enforce that when cultural practices, personal preferences, are to co-sleep?

Is this an emotional issue?

Anytime a child dies, the community goes through an outrage or a grieving period, rightfully so. It’s difficult to hear about a child dying. It’s even more difficult when you hear, know, or feel that the death could have been prevented easily.

Because this family had already lost a child through what many believe was co-sleeping, is this trial an attempt to “teach a lesson” to these parents for not “listening/learning” the first time? Is that a line that needs to be crossed into our criminal justice system?

Is this something we should be punishing for in the Criminal Justice system?

Wikipedia describes Criminal Justice as “is the system of practices and institutions of governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, or sanctioning those who violate laws”. What do you think? Is this something that we should be punishing, criminally, for or do you feel that this is something that should be written into law?

I’m conflicted, I have to admit. I do feel that parents should NOT sleep with infants as a Safe Sleep practice; however, I do not feel that this is a criminal offense in itself. There is only one exception – when the parents are under the influence of illegal substances or mind-altering substances – and sleep with their infants. That, in my opinion, is imminent danger (of course, it also includes an illegal act).

I want to hear your thoughts on safe sleep practices. It shouldn’t have to be said, but please be respectful of others’ thoughts as well.


  1. ANN*H says:

    I feel sorry for the parents that this happened to – what a horror. I think parents should learn about co-sleeping at the hospital before they take the baby home. I personally dont know how someone could sleep so sound knowing the baby is right there. I could never do that. I dont think they should be penalized, they will suffer the rest of their lives – maybe they should go thru some classes or something to learn more about child care.

  2. What a tragic story, I don’t think a parent should be punished by the law if they accidentally harm or kill their baby by co-sleeping it was intentional and besides the parent is already going to blame themselves and feel guilty as it is, why kick a horse when it’s down. 🙁

    • janet says:

      It is tragic and preventable…maybe!! That’s the key, though…maybe!!

  3. I feel so sorry for this family. We do not co-sleep (personal opinion) but I definitely do not agree if people do co-sleep. My philosophy is whatever works for your family! I Do not think it should be illegal at all!

    • janet says:

      I’m with you that it shouldn’t be illegal, but I think people need to be educated on Safe Sleep so once they are…are they liable?

  4. Clarinda Olenslager says:

    I have coslept with all 5 of my kiddos starting in the hospital-scared one nurse cause the baby was with me and not in the crib thing. But I know I am NOT a heavy sleeper. I wake up when my kids wake up no matter if I’m sleep deprived or not. They have slept in my arms, on my chest and by my side. Makes it easy to breastfeed.
    As for making it a law, that is ridiculous. I would gladly break that one all the days of my life. Punishing only for illegal drug and alcohol uses resulting in death is okay in my book. But they have to prove that the death was from illegal means and not SIDS because I would think that they could tell if the child had been suffocated.
    Anyway I believe in cosleeping and I also know some can’t but believe it is truly the best for baby.

    • janet says:

      I think that’s the problem with making it a law is that (1) you can’t prove it, and (2) it’s cultural or infringing on belief systems. There are too many families who can say exactly what you say – 5 children and no incidents. You know your sleeping habits and what is best for your baby and family.

  5. Gena says:

    I’m torn on this, definitely. While we are not a co-sleeping family, there were times when I slept with my infants. I remember when my second son came home from the hospital, he nursed all night long and I was exhausted. It has been said that moms have this instinct that no one else has and I do think it’s true, as it was for me. I was in a light sleep all night, always waking to check on him. (another reason we aren’t co-sleepers! lol!) I think it was very careless for this family to co-sleep after they had lost the other child while co-sleeping. No way would I be able to do that. So it makes you wonder what was going on in that situation, but I’m not the one who should judge them, for sure.

    Co-sleeping is as old as the Bible. There was a mom whose baby died while co-sleeping and she tried to steal another baby, remember? It’s a very common practice and if done correctly, I think it’s fabulous.

    I don’t know. I just don’t know! I want to say “to each their own” but someone’s gotta stand up for the babies, too.

    • janet says:

      You sound like me, Gena!! I just don’t know!! I can see both sides and I know what I would do for my family, but I can’t tell you that if I lost a child that I wouldn’t want to keep the second child closer. In this family’s situation, they lost a child to co-sleeping which would make you think they wouldn’t do it again, but they LOST A CHILD!! Anytime I hear about a child dying – which is too often due to my work – that night I’m holding my son closer in bed. It’s an instinct and I don’t know where to draw the line.

      I know the advice to give, I know what’s SAFE, but I’m a Mommy and I know what feels right FOR MY FAMILY!!

  6. Me as mother I have let my childeren sleep with me in the bed that was until one of my childeren which is is age 5 now fell off in the middle of the night that was so scary thank god he was ok, after that I never let my younger baby sleep with me they now have items that can purchused to connect to your bed so its like having your baby in the bed,

    • janet says:

      Diane, I’m so glad you mentioned that!! I meant to put something like this in the post because I DO believe that the closeness is very important!!

  7. Charlene says:

    I think the parents have to have been punished enough. What could the court possibly do to them by trying them in court that would surpass the pain of losing a child? The fact is that SIDS is a very real danger, and that a family who has one child die of SIDS is more likely to have another child die of it also. Could it have been from co-sleeping? I’m sure it’s possible, maybe even likely, but making co-sleeping illegal really seems like it is pushing into people’s homes more than it needs to be. Let’s face it, there are so many more horrendous things that go on and that need our attention so much more.

    • janet says:

      I agree!! I do think that the parents are punished enough by losing a child and wish there was a way to know that SIDS was the cause versus co-sleeping. Until we know that, I think it’s a slippery slope.

      • Charlene says:

        On the other hand, I can’t IMAGINE co-sleeping with your child if you knew that might have been the reason the first one died!

  8. I am not a fan of co-sleeping too. But sometimes new mothers want to cuddle with their babies and have some sleep time: this is does not make it illegal in my opinion..I feel so sorry for this baby and this mothers. She will be haunted for life.

    • janet says:

      I cuddled with my son ALL THE TIME when he was a baby, but if I ever felt like I was about to fall asleep while he was sleeping I made sure he was in his bassinet or crib. I cannot imagine the pain these parents are going through having known they lost two babies in the same situation. I don’t believe there was any malice in either child’s death, only love and grief and fear.

  9. I’m not a fan of co-sleeping. I know it works for others, but it would not work for me and our family lifestyle. I understand if people want to co-sleep with their child once they are older, but I think it can be quite dangerous co-sleeping with an infant. Should it be illegal though? No, it shouldn’t, unless (in which I agree with you) the parents were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

    • janet says:

      Co-sleeping for us now that our son is 4 years old absolutely works for us, but we were terrified of even relaxing with him in the bed with us when he was tiny. There were times when we would be so tired, but we would always take turns sleeping if he had to be in the bed with us. Otherwise, he was in the bassinet or crib!!

  10. Maggie @ Tethered Mommy says:

    I did not know that was your “day job”. While I am not a fan of co-sleeping, I don’t know that it should be illegal, unless, as you said, any adult in the bed is under the influence of any substance.

    I feel that this trial is a waste of our resources that are already under strain.

    • janet says:

      I think this is where I am..not illegal, but still not okay!! I certainly think the courts could use their resources better because there are parents who are sleeping with their children in their beds after having used drugs and alcohol.


  1. […] may recall that my family believes in the Family Bed (only now that my boy is older) so he still sleeps with us at age […]

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