A coroner has issued a warning to all parents about the dangers of co-sleeping with their newborns after a "perfect" couple found their baby son dead at the side of their bed when they dozed off alongside him, an inquest heard.
Doting Keeley Makin and partner Nicky Marsh said the death of their 30-day-old son Archie was a "horrible shock" to them, adding that they never got to see him smile.
An inquest heard how they woke up to find the baby unresponsive and tests showed he had sustained accidental rib fractures thought to have been caused by him being ”squeezed side-to-side.”
Experts said Archie died from sudden infant death syndrome and Home Office pathologist Dr Charles Wilson recorded the cause of death as sudden infant death linked with adult co-sleeping.
The parents would routinely have one month old Archie sleep in his Moses basket in their bedroom at night but following a 1.30am night feed they let the infant lie alongside them and one of their other children.
Later that morning the pair – who have three other sons – woke up to find Archie unresponsive and dialled 999.
They attempted to revive the four week old but he was pronounced dead in hospital.
At an inquest in Bolton, Greater Manchester, Miss Makin who is in her 20s and Mr Marsh who is in his 30s wept as police and a coroner called for great awareness about the dangers of ‘co-sleeping’ following the tragedy on November 17 at the couple’s home in Atherton.
Recording a conclusion of an accidental death, coroner Alan Walsh said: "There are probably hundreds of thousands of parents who may have infants sleeping in their bed this evening.
"But every one of those parents potential puts their infants child at risk.
”Archie was 30 days old at the time of his death and was born into a loving, caring family and was born into a perfect home.
"He had everything that he could wish for as a baby. His brothers doted on him and as did his parents.
"He had no health problems apart from a cold. He was well looked after and on November 17 he had enjoyed a normal day."
Mr Walsh added: "He was put to bed and woke up for his feed at about 1.30am. After the feed, he was placed in bed with his parents.
”It is likely that that had happened with other children and there had never been any problems with that situation.
"Nobody could have foreseen what would happen in the next few hours and it is unimaginable to wake up and find a baby unresponsive. You have my greatest sympathy.
"We know that Archie died and he did have some injuries probably arising from the co-sleeping, they were not the cause of death but would have caused problems with his breathing which led to his death.
"Co-sleeping is a main factor in relation to sudden infant deaths. I have the benefit of dealing with deaths that arise from this.
"One thing that can arise from Archie’s tragic death is an awareness. This is a risk that can be avoided and a death that can be prevented.
"You would never have imagined this would have happened. You provided the perfect home, you were the perfect parents and I am extremely sorry."
The hearing was told on the day of the tragedy Mr Marsh had gone to work while Miss Makin stayed at their home to look after Archie.
When he returned from work that evening he went out to play football and then drank two cans of lager at home.
In a statement Miss Makin told the Bolton hearing: "Archie was our beautiful little boy. He was our fourth child, we already have three boys.
"I had a healthy pregnancy with Archie and was induced before birth. I had a natural labour and Archie weighed seven pounds and three ounces.
"We were discharged from the hospital and could not wait to get him home."
"On Friday November 17, Nicky left early for work and Archie stayed with me all day. Archie had been bottle-fed that day and was struggling to breath as he had a cold. I spoke to a doctor on the phone about his cold.
"Nicky returned home from work at about 7pmand later he put Archie down to sleep in a Moses basket in the bedroom.
"He had his last feed before bed at 8.15pm. Nicky woke up at around 1.30am to feed Archie.
"In the bed that night was me on the right, our son and Archie’s older brother slept between us as he had been struggling to sleep, and Nicky was on the left.
"Nicky fed Archie whilst he was in bed and we lay him on the left side on the edge of his bed instead of in his Moses basket.
"Nicky must have fallen asleep and then when he awoke he found Archie was unresponsive. We called 999 straight and performed CPR.
"Archie’s death came as a horrible shock for the whole family. We were all so excited for Archie to come along, his brothers were amazing with him.
"We did not get to see his first smile. Not a day goes by where we don’t think about our Archie. He will forever be in our hearts."
Home Office pathologist Dr Charles Wilson recorded the cause of death as sudden infant death linked with adult co-sleeping.
He told the hearing: "We know that there is an increased risk of sudden infant death in children that co-sleep with adults. It is possible to block an infants airway, or to construct an airway.
"It is very, very unusual to find these rib fractures. Archie has been squeezed side to side.
"It is a massive thing that many parents do co-sleep with their infants. It is an increased risk and in my view it is not worth taking."
Det Insp Nathan Percival from Greater Manchester Police said: "There was no previous history or anything that caused any concern in relation to the family. Nicky mentioned going to football practice that evening and having a couple of cans of lager on return. There was absolutely no suggestion of any more than that, two cans were found at the address.
"I could tell that they were caring and doting parents. The home address a lovely family, caring home. There were photographs and toys everywhere. It was just a lovely family environment. It could be described as a perfect home for them to be brought up in.
"There was nothing suspicious or any evidence of any third party involvement in the death."
He added: "These deaths are preventable, certainly coming up to this time of year when it is around the Christmas period and alcohol is consumed this gives us some concern. There could be 20 children and you only get one incident, but that one incident is preventable.
"The key for myself and the police in general is that these deaths are preventable, this can happen to the most caring and doting parents.
"We just want to get the message across to have separate sleeping areas and separate feeding areas."
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