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Sheriff warns parents, guardians of co-sleeping dangers after two children died last month

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Posted at 12:48 PM, Apr 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-23 10:02:02-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — You've heard it time and time again, "don't sleep in the same bed as a baby." Despite the advice, a Florida sheriff is warning parents and guardians of the dangers of co-sleeping after two tragic deaths.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said two children died as a result of co-sleeping, last month, in Hillsborough County. In 2018, eight children died of co-sleeping and seven more suffocated from unsafe sleeping environments.

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED: Infant sleep-related deaths rising in the Tampa Bay area

"Parents, I know you're tired, and it's easier to let your baby sleep next to you in bed or on a couch, but it's extremely dangerous," Sheriff Chronister said in a video posted to YouTube. "Not only can you rollover on your child, but your baby can also get trapped between the mattress and the wall or suffocate from blankets, pillows and stuffed animals."

While co-sleeping may seem tempting, Sheriff Chronister said the safest place for a baby is in their own crib or bassinet.

"Remember, a baby isn't developed enough to let you know they're in a bad spot, they can't move or can't breathe."

Watch Sheriff Chronister's message below:

This warning comes after two co-sleeping deaths last month in the area.

Eight babies Hillsborough County children died the same way last year.

“It’s very heartbreaking," said Jessica Reynolds with Healthy Start Coalition of Hillsborough County.

She works to educate as many people as possible on the dangers of co-sleeping.

“The main goal is always to have a baby alone on their back in a crib or bassinet that has been safety approved," said Reynolds.

A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found most infant suffocation deaths could have been prevented with safe sleep practices

They say in many cases suffocation was caused by soft bedding, wedging against a wall or another person rolling over against the infant.

“Being a new parent is very challenging when you are very tired, or perhaps you are breast feeding. There is a risk that your baby will fall asleep and then you’ll fall asleep. And unfortunately that’s when we see these tragedies take place," said Reynolds.

There are about 17,000 babies born just in Hillsborough County every year.

And while there are a lot of things that can wrong, experts say this is one tragedy that is completely avoidable.