Being a parent means that you're constantly on alert for things that could harm your baby. For the most part, parents are pretty well aware of how to keep their babies safe. Unfortunately, not every danger is always apparent and the cost of not knowing it can be all too high, as this family found out ...
When Derek and Ali Dodd, a young couple from Oklahoma, dropped off their infant son, Shepard, to a local daycare, little did they know that it would be the last time they would see him alive.
A careless employee at the facility placed Shepard in his car seat to sleep instead of putting him in a crib. When she came to check on him 2 hours later, he had turned completely blue. A 911 call was placed but it was already far too late - Shepard was gone.
Many parents aren't aware of the potential danger that sleeping in a car seat can present. If the child is not properly strapped in, they can actually suffer from what is called "positional asphyxiation." It was a lesson the Dodds tragically had to learn about the hard way.
Derek says he was able to kiss his son on the forehead as they wheeled him. "He was cold," Derek says, "So I knew it was coming."
Positional asphyxia is actually more common than many parents may realize. As a result, the Dodd family has lost a son and must live with that sadness for years to come if not the rest of their lives.
The craziest thing about the situation is that the official report by Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) didn't even mention their son's death. All it says is that a baby was allowed to sleep in a car seat. As it is stands, parents potentially wishing to enroll their child to that facility would have no idea that a child died under their care.
In fact, that same daycare had already faced a recent code violation and had been instructed on the dangers of putting kids to sleep in car seats. According to Ali, the negligent employee responsible for their son's death had been counseled by DHS just a few days prior.The daycare remained open for another four months and was only shut down after its license was revoked for undisclosed reasons.
Jennifer Albright is another parent who understands the pain that the Dodds are experiencing. Her 2-moth-old daughter, Emily, had also died of positional asphyxia, with the only difference being she was in a bouncy seat instead of a regular car seat.
It was a mistake any uninformed parent could have made.
Newborns have especially heavy heads, or rather, they have spine and neck bones and musculature that is not developed enough at that stage to properly support their heads. This is why anyone who has ever been instructed in holding a newborn knows the most important thing is to cradle and support the head.
In a car seat, if the infant is not properly secured, their head can slouch over and block the airways. This suffocation slowly kills them.
It is advised that if you're ever in a position where a crib is not handy, the best thing to do is lay your baby flat on it's back on the floor (to avoid falling by rolling over off a couch/etc).
A Facebook page dedicated to Shepard has since created this easy-to-follow anagram for parents. Remember the ABCDEF rule,
Out of this tragedy, however, some good is also emerging. Ali and Derek are now determined to spread awareness about positional asphyxiation and lobbying to have sleeping standards be a higher priority in their home state of Oklahoma.
To learn more about the Dodd family and the dangers of positional asphyxiation, watch the video below: