It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. You wake up and notice your baby co-sleeping beside you is not breathing.
This heartbreaking situation recently unfolded in a Brisbane home. However, it wasn’t just one newborn involved, but two. And, devastatingly, both twins have died.
We first heard about this tragic story on Wednesday morning when it was confirmed that a six-week-old baby had died at home with the other twin rushed to the hospital unresponsive and in critical condition. Police have now confirmed that the second twin has also died in hospital, just one day after her sister.
What exactly happened?
Dubbed a ‘co-sleeping tragedy’ by media outlets, it’s been reported the twins were co-sleeping with their mother when they became wrapped up in the bedding. However, police have not confirmed this.
The only thing we know for sure is that a neighbour heard an ambulance arrive at the family’s Sunnybank Hill house at 5.40 am Wednesday morning. She then heard the poor father “howling and screaming” for hours afterwards.
At this stage, no one knows exactly what happened but police are not treating their deaths as suspicious. Investigators hope a post-mortem can confirm the exact cause of death of these two little girls.
Family described as ‘good people’
We cannot imagine the pain and heartache this couple is going through right now. Waking up in the morning to discover both your twins unresponsive would be one of the worst experiences in the world and something no family should ever have to go through.
A neighbour described the family, who have two other children – a preschooler and a toddler – as “good people”.
“The children were very happy; they had everything, you know, toys, swings, a pool,” she told the Brisbane Times.
Our hearts go out to this Brisbane family. Family and friends have set up a GoFundMe account to help with the costs of saying goodbye to these two precious babies.
Co-sleeping with baby safely
This tragic accident is an awful reminder just how quickly bad things can happen. Although it is not confirmed that co-sleeping is responsible for the twins’ death, it’s important all parents know the risks of co-sleeping with a baby and how to do it as safely as possible.
Red Nose has issued a reminder to parents following the tragedy, especially when co-sleeping with twins.
Sleeping baby in their own safe cot is always the safest option, however, Red Nose recognises that this is not always possible, especially if you have twins.
Sleeping twins in the same safe cot (known as “co-bedding”) is dangerous if one part of the body of one twin were able to accidentally cover the face of the other, causing an interference with breathing. There is a risk that this can happen if the infants are sleeping side-by-side.
Tips for safer co-sleeping
- Place baby on their back to sleep – never on their tummy or side.
- Make sure the mattress is clean and firm and keep pillows and adult bedding away from baby ensuring no bedding or sheets can cover baby’s face.
- Check that baby can’t fall off the bed – you can also put the adult mattress on the floor to help reduce the risk of baby being injured from falling off the bed.
- Place baby to the side of one adult – never in the middle of two adults, or next to other children or pets.
- Move the bed away from the wall – so baby can’t get trapped between the bed and the wall.
- Dress baby in a safe sleepsuit.
- Tie up long hair, remove all jewellery and remove teething necklaces.
- Parents and carers should avoid co-sleeping if they are overly tired, unwell, have been drinking, smoking or taking drugs, or if baby is unwell.
Tips for twins co-sleeping
- Place the babies head to head, at opposite ends of the cot.
- Do not use bedding. Safer alternatives to bedding include wrapping/swaddling the babies separately until they show signs of being able to roll over or their own safe sleepsuits.
- Babies must sleep separately when they show signs of being able to move around in the cot.
Below are a few things to always remember when it comes to safe infant sleeping in general.
General Safe Sleep Guidelines
- Sleep baby in your room (in own cot or bassinet) for 6 to 12 months. Room sharing reduces the risk of SIDS. Baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else, including siblings or pets.
- Make sure bub has plenty of tummy time when awake. This will help strengthen your baby’s neck, shoulder, and arm muscles.
- Vaccinate. Vaccines not only protect the baby’s health, but research shows that vaccinated babies are at lower risk for SIDS.
- Do not smoke during pregnancy, and do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby.
- Breastfeed if you are able to. Babies who breastfeed, or are fed breastmilk, are at lower risk for SIDS than are babies who were never fed breastmilk. Longer duration of exclusive breastfeeding leads to lower risk.
For more info please visit Red Nose.