THE mum of a baby who died of cot death is warning others of the condition after his childminder thought he was having a “really long sleep”.
Jennifer Wakefield, 33, was left devastated when six-month-old Ralph was put down for a nap and didn’t wake up again.
The little boy, of Hull, died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) at his childminder’s house in September 2015.
Even though his death was tragically unavoidable, Mrs Wakefield wants to make sure other families don’t have to go through the same trauma.
Along with husband Stephen, she is trying to raise awareness of safer sleep for babies to prevent stoppable infant deaths.
‘DIDN’T REALISE HE’D DIED’
Speaking about the tragic day Ralph died to Hull Live, she said: “I was at work in Scunthorpe when I got the call from the childminder to say that Ralph had been put down for a nap and just died in his sleep.
“They just thought he had a really long sleep and didn’t realise he had died.
“The paramedics had done their best to save him, but he had died a while before, so there was nothing to be done.
“He was not ill at the time – he had a cold the week before and that was it.
“He was our first child and he was perfect.
“We were in complete disbelief and shock at the loss of Ralph.
“It was absolutely surreal as we couldn’t work out why a perfectly healthy baby that was put down for a nap didn’t wake up again.”
Mrs Wakefield added: “His death had a massive impact on us, as no parent ever expects to lose their baby.
“Then the inquest was emotional and gut wrenching and hard to deal with – the coroner said Ralph’s death was unascertained, but we knew that it was SIDS that could not be avoided.”
His death had a massive impact on us, as no parent ever expects to lose their baby
A month after Ralph’s funeral, Mrs Wakefield discovered she was pregnant with their now three-year-old son Edward.
The couple also now have a nine-month-old son Edgar.
Mrs Wakefield said: “We went through a massive bereavement but being pregnant again helped us as, when Edward was born, we were able to see another baby healthy and thriving, and we let out a sigh of relief after we passed the six-month mark with him.
“We had never experienced teething, so when that started for Edward, and then when all the next stages of growing up started with him, it was like being new parents all over again.
What is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and what can be done to prevent it?
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – sometimes known as “cot death” – is the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby.
In the UK, more than 200 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly every year. This statistic may sound alarming, but SIDS is rare and the risk of your baby dying from it is low.
Most deaths happen during the first 6 months of a baby’s life. Infants born prematurely or with a low birthweight are at greater risk. SIDS also tends to be slightly more common in baby boys.
SIDS usually occurs when a baby is asleep, although it can occasionally happen while they’re awake.
Parents can reduce the risk of SIDS by not smoking while pregnant or after the baby is born, and always placing the baby on their back when they sleep.
Here are a list of things that can be done to prevent SIDS:
- always place your baby on their back to sleep
- place your baby in the “feet to foot” position – with their feet touching the end of the cot, Moses basket, or pram
- keep your baby’s head uncovered – their blanket should be tucked in no higher than their shoulders
- let your baby sleep in a cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months
- use a mattress that’s firm, flat, waterproof and in good condition
- breastfeed your baby, if you can – see benefits of breastfeeding for more information
- smoke during pregnancy or let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby – both before and after birth
- sleep on a bed, sofa or armchair with your baby
- share a bed with your baby if you or your partner smoke or take drugs, or if you’ve been drinking alcohol
- let your baby get too hot or too cold – a room temperature of 16C to 20C, with light bedding or a lightweight baby sleeping bag, will provide a comfortable sleeping environment for your baby
“There was nothing that we needed to change in terms of sleep practices with Edward, as we had followed all the advice when putting him down.
“But we thought it was important to spread the message of safe sleeping practices, as Hull and the East Riding has some of the highest rates of SIDS in the country and not much is known about it.
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“If more parents were educated, unlike Ralph’s death, many other SIDS deaths could be avoided.”
Mrs Wakefield has been working with the Lullaby Trust and Hull Royal Infirmary to raise awareness of SIDS, better known as cot death.
The syndrome claims the lives of around 240 babies a year in the UK and around 85 per cent happen in the first six months of life.
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