Parents go to great lengths to protect their little ones from dangers that may pop up all over the house, especially those that could be fatal when a child is asleep. But tragically, accidents still happen, which a tragedy out of Scotland proves. Last month, upon waking her sister for school, Dexy Leigh Walsh, a 23-year-old mother, found her 18-month-old daughter Connie Rose lifeless. The little girl had died during her sleep, suffocating under a large teddy bear. Walsh had used the toy to fill a gap at the side of her bed, in an effort to prevent her from falling down between the bed and the wall. (The other side of the bed had a bed guard.)
Walsh says she believed that because Connie was 18 months, she was old enough that the teddy bear wouldn't pose a risk while she slept. The grieving mother told the BBC Scotland news website, "I got up to get my oldest ready for school, and I went over to get Connie and she was under a big teddy. I couldn't wake her up and shouted on my partner. I put Connie on the floor and started CPR. Murray took over and he tried. My sister was on the phone to the ambulance people, explaining what to do. We were following instructions while the ambulance was on the way. Murray's mum arrived and took over and then the ambulance came. They asked everybody to leave the room and tried for two minutes as well then came to the bedroom door. I can't really remember what she said, I just heard 'I'm sorry.' I just ran back into the bedroom and grabbed her and cuddled her. They let me cozy her for a good half an hour and I kept hugging her, still hoping she would open her eyes, or grab me or something."
She later took to Facebook to set up a memorial page for Connie, to detail the gut-wrenching loss, and to warn other parents. "I have been blaming myself as she passed away due to suffocation as I had packed down the side of her bed with teddy’s and placed a big one on top of the smaller teddy’s to stop her from falling down the side of her bed, and she did exactly that, but as it was all teddy bears she went under the massive teddy and fell asleep with the angels," Walsh wrote. "All I think about now is what if I just left it empty, she would still be here maybe with just a small bump on her head. It’s all what ifs now."
Now, she says she just wants every parent to see and be aware of this danger. "Let them fall," Walsh shared. "Don’t try to stuff small places up with soft things, just leave it empty. ... Please move everything off your kids' bed and away from the sides."
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics' safe sleep guidelines, parents can reduce the risk of SIDS avoiding soft bedding like crib bumpers, pillows, blankets, and soft toys. Of course, the organization points out that these rules of thumb are particularly important for babies under 12 months old. Nonetheless, given this tragic turn of events, parents of toddlers would clearly do well to follow these guidelines, as well.
With hope, this heartbreaking story will raise awareness and keep L.O.s safe. As Walsh and her loved ones navigate this unbelievable grief, the heartbroken mom has only one wish: "I really hope my little princess's tragic story can save someone else's baby's life."