WYTHEVILLE, Va. – A Wytheville mother is sharing her story during National Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness Month.
About 3,700 babies died of sleep-related causes in the U.S. in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Jessica Sexton gave birth to her baby girl, Nevaeh, in 2012.
“She was the most perfect baby ever,” Sexton said.
But just 37 days later, everything changed.
“It just so happened that I fell asleep with my child. Well, then my husband at the time was on the couch and then he took my baby out of my arms and went to bed with her,” Sexton said.
The next day, Jessica says she found Nevaeh blue and lifeless. The official cause of death was SIDS.
“I based my whole life on my daughter. I was 18 years old. I was a baby that just had a baby and now I’m burying my child,” Sexton said.
She’s not alone. Every three days in Virginia, a baby dies due to unsafe sleep practices.
“The majority of those are because they’ve been asleep with mom and dad or a sibling in their bed or on a couch,” Carilion Children’s Safe Kids Coordinator Jill Lucas Drakeford said.
So WSLS 10 went to experts at Carilion to find out what you need to know to keep your baby safe.
“They look cute and cozy and comfortable, but unfortunately these are the things that are really dangerous,” Drakeford said.
Things like blankets, covers, pillows and stuffed animals in a crib can all be dangerous.
“When we lay the baby down, never on their side, never on their stomach and they always have to be on their back,” Drakeford said.
She says it’s an important warning for all parents.
“It takes less than two minutes for a baby to (not) have the air that they need to breathe before their body system shuts down, and it’s something that you can never replace,” Drakeford said.
It’s a story Sexton knows all too well, and one she hopes other parents can learn from.
“That baby is a gift. And just like any gift, that baby can be taken away just that quick,” Sexton said.
There’s now a law in Virginia requiring parents to get safe sleep education.
To find more resources to keep your baby safe, click here.
Local organization Kelly’s Angels is hosting its third annual Candlelight Vigil to honor lost babies at the Max Meadows ballfield at 7 p.m. Oct. 15. For more information, call Kelly at 276-698-2023.
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