Family warns others about unsafe sleep practices after baby’s death

A local family is sharing their story of heartbreak after an infant died as a result of unsafe sleep practices. The family says they had never heard of safe sleep and didn't know they were doing anything wrong.

The Morgan family will never forget that February day.

"No breathing, no pulse, no nothing," David Morgan said.

Morgan went to get his 4-month-old grandson, Jaxon, dressed for the day when he noticed something was wrong.

"I turned around and I seen Jaxon and everything changed at that moment. He wasn't breathing--just the color of his face. You knew it was bad," Morgan said.

An autopsy revealed Jaxon died as a result of positional asphyxia. The family says they never heard of safe sleep practices until after the baby's death when investigators came to the home.

"They had given us flyers that had empty cribs, Jaxon's crib wasn't empty and he laid on a pillow. And I didn't think we did anything wrong," Morgan said.

Indiana has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. In 2015,  613 Indiana children died before the age of one. Infant suffocation and unsafe sleep practices being among the leading causes.

"The most important safe sleep practice is to make sure that you put the baby to sleep on their back. Not really having anything in the bed at all. No blankets, no quilts, no pillows, no big squishy stuffed animals and certainly no bumpers," said Dr. Michael McKenna, a pediatrician with St. Vincent.

The rules for safe sleep are known as the ABC's:

  • Alone: Have your infant sleep by themselves and not in a bed with others. That also means removing all toys, bedding, blankets, and stuffed animals from an infant’s crib.
  • Back: Have your baby sleep on its back. Statistics show infants have a higher risk of dying from SIDS if they sleep on their tummy.
  • Crib: Place your baby in a flat crib, bassinet, or playpen.

Jaxon's father, Chris, is left wondering what would've happened if he'd known that information before becoming a father.

"Why, why did I do this? I just started putting everything on myself because like he was there with me that night," Chris said.

Now the family will take this pain and spread the word about safe sleep in hopes of sparing another family the same tragedy.

"If I have to be the one to do it in Jaxon's name, if we have to be the one's to do it in Jaxon's name, I'll do it. If it saves another life it was worth it and that's why we want to do this," Morgan said.

The Indiana State Department of Health just awarded $11 million to groups statewide in hopes of getting more education out there to reduce the infant mortality rate.