Jefferson County, IL (KFVS) - Health experts warn sleeping with your baby may not be as safe as you thought.
In Jefferson County, Ill. four babies died while co-sleeping with their parents in the last seven months. Jefferson County Coroner says that's more than he's ever seen.
One of those parents to lose a child is Cynthia Travis.
"This one was taken at a birthday party," Travis explained about a picture.
Travis says the picture was taken just after she had given her baby girl some icing.
"I think she wanted more and I think that's why she looks like she was trying to eat my cheek in the picture," Travis said.
It's the last time Travis took a photo with her infant daughter. About a week later, Travis says she was nursing Taylor when she fell asleep.
"Even though you don't make the choice to sleep with them, you still take the chance if you don't get up and get awake enough to make sure that you're awake, because all it takes is one minute," Travis said. "That's all you get."
Travis lost her baby girl that August day. A few months later Kaysie Belmont also experienced the same painful loss.
"I was slept for 15 minutes and I woke up and he was gone," Belmont said. "You don't want to sleep with your baby."
Belmont says she was worried about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), so she slept with her newborn. But health experts and doctors in Jefferson County say while you may think its safe, co-sleeping actually puts your child at risk.
"A baby's airway, in case you don't know, like an infant is about the size of a soda straw and just a head tilt, just one way or another can obstruct this air way," Eddie Jo Marks, Jefferson County Coroner said.
"A lot of time when that's baby snuggled down into the nestle of your arm, you know, that's compromising that baby there," Becky Brooks with the Jefferson County Health Department said.
Brooks suggests parents break the habit of co-sleeping. She says, instead, do room sharing and put a safe crib or bassinet next to the adult bed.
It's a message both Travis and Belmont want parents to hear, so others don't have to face the same pain of losing a child.
"It can happen to you," Travis said. "Even though you think it won't, you think you'll hear 'em, you think you wake up, you don't."
Health experts say bottom line, when it time to sleep, put your baby on its back in a safe crib.
To help get the word out about the dangers of co-sleeping, the Jefferson County coroner along with Angel's Cove launched an awareness campaign. It includes education along with support for parents.
To find out more contact Angel's Cove in Mount Vernon, Ill. at 618-242-4944.