Ashlie Nicole Williams was washing the dishes when Aaron Cade carried their sleeping 2-year-old daughter, London, into their home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

According to BuzzFeed, Ashlie told Aaron to “just put her in the bed,” so they wouldn’t disturb her. When Ashlie walked into the bedroom, she snapped a picture.

Ashlie told BuzzFeed that she laughed when she saw the baby sleeping in a car seat on the bed. Then, the parents left London alone to sleep in her car seat.

The tweet has been shared 42,000 times and many other parents have shared similar stories of children sleeping in car seats on beds.

The problem is … it can be extremely dangerous for children to sleep in car seats. 

For instance, Ali Dodd lost her son, Shepard, on April 6, 2015. She previously told IJR that a daycare worker left her 11-week-old baby unbuckled, swaddled, and unattended for two hours while he slept in another child’s car seat.

It’s suspected that Shepard slid into the car seat while he was sleeping, his chin touched his chest, and his airway collapsed.

Since Shepard passed away, Ali has been advocating for stronger safe-sleeping practices at child care providers and at home. She started an organization called Shepard’s Watch and published a pamphlet on safe-sleeping practices based on information from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

According to the pediatrician’s organization, an estimated 3,500 infants die annually in the U.S. from sleep-related infant deaths. Babies are at higher risk of sleep-related deaths when sleeping in car seats and other sitting devices:

Sitting devices, such as car seats, strollers, swings, infant carriers, and infant slings, are not recommended for routine sleep in the hospital or at home, particularly for young infants. Infants who are younger than 4 months are particularly at risk, because they may assume positions that can create a risk of suffocation or airway obstruction or may not be able to move out of a potentially asphyxiating situation.

When Ali saw the photograph of London sleeping in her car seat — and tucked under a blanket — she told Dearly that she was shocked to see the media reporting the incident without a warning:

“It would be life saving if the media would speak up about safe sleeping environments. Parents are bombarded with pictures of ‘normal.’ Unsafe sleep pictures should never be passed as normal. Parents deserve grace but every baby deserves to wake up. We should all work together so that happens and safe sleep is a big part of that conversation.”

She understands that parents make mistakes, but she hopes the photograph can be used to teach about safe sleeping practices instead of putting more children in harm’s way.

Some of the other recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to help ensure safe sleep include:

  • Placing the baby on his or her back and on a firm surface with a tight-fitted sheet.
  • Removing any soft bedding items from the crib, including blankets, pillows, and toys.
  • Sleeping in the same room with the baby but not on the same surface until the baby turns 1 year old.

If you have any questions concerning safe sleeping practices, you can visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website or follow Shepard’s Watch on Facebook.

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