Foster parents have been asked to "stop sharing their bed" with infants by Alberta's child advocate after a six-week old baby was found dead in her foster parents bed.
A six-week old baby, being referred to as 'Baby Dawn' was found "unresponsive" in her foster parents bed and later died in a hospital in the year 2013. The foster mother had put the baby to sleep in a playpen next to her, but later shifted her to their bed sometime in the night. After a thorough investigation, Alberta's Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff recommended the need to have a policy in place that "prohibits" bed sharing among foster parents with their infants. The death of 'Baby Dawn' has prompted the province to analyse and apply regulations on bed sharing practices with infants. The autopsy of the infant did not reveal anything suspicious and the police ruled that no crime had been committed.
Stating that there are "conflicting theories" about the best practices for infants in regards to sleeping environment, Graff told CTV Edmonton on Tuesday, "We're not saying that to parents. We're not saying that even to relatives or the kinship care. But we're saying there needs to be a policy for fostering in this province."
The report, which looked into the "probable" cause of the death of the infant, further said, "Some argue that 'attachment parenting,' which includes bed-sharing, is best; while public health agencies and medical professionals recommend that babies should sleep in a crib. But, at the end of the day when children are in the care of the Ministry of Human Services everything that can be done to make them safe needs to be done."
Dr. Ian Mitchell, a pediatrician at the University of Calgary, agrees with Graff and said, "All of the national bodies and international bodies strongly recommend that infants do not share a sleeping surface with an adult."
Meanwhile, Manmeet Bhullar, Alberta's Human Services Minister issued a statement after studying the report. "While we recognize co-sleeping can be an important cultural aspect, each child in care must have a separate bed or crib as a permanent sleeping arrangement. We do not recommend bed-sharing due to a number of associated risks including falls or suffocations," it said. "To ensure children are raised in safe and caring environments, we will clarify our policy on co-sleeping and the Safe Babies course is now a requirement for all foster parents that care for children under the age of three", further stated the report.