VANCOUVER - The BC Coroners Service is warning parents of infants about the potential dangers of using co-sleepers, a type of crib that attaches to the side of an adult bed. The warning comes after an extensive investigation into the death of a 10-month-old Surrey girl who died last year after becoming trapped between the co-sleeper and the adult bed.
In April 2011, Health Canada issued a recall notice for the most common type of co-sleeper - the "Original and Universal Co-Sleeper" manufactured by California-based Arm's Reach Concepts. Since that time, the co-sleepers have not been available through normal retail outlets in Canada, but many used ones are still found for sale at garage sales and through websites such as Craigslist. Also, it is still possible to purchase the co-sleepers in the U.S.A.
In its recall notice, Health Canada specifically noted the danger that an infant sleeping in one "can become entrapped between the edge of the mattress and the side of the sleeper. This poses a risk of suffocation."
The coroner's investigation found that this was precisely what had happened in the little girl's death. She had been placed on her back in the co-sleeper, but when found she was face-down wedged between the edge of the sleeper and the mattress of the adult bed. She was found to have died of positional asphyxia.
The BC Coroners Service reminds parents and all who care for infants that a baby is safest when put down to sleep on their back, in a properly-designed crib or bassinet, with no quilts, pillows, stuffed toys or other soft material in the crib.
For further information on safe sleep for babies, see: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/dca-dea/stages-etapes/childhood-enfance_0-2/sids/ssb_brochure-eng.php - a brochure produced by the Public Health Agency of Canada incorporating the latest research on this issue.
Coroner, Strategic Programs
BC Coroners Service