Infant dies after co-sleeping incident on Cleveland's east side

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It is a heart-breaking case on Cleveland's east side. A mother woke up to find her 7-week-old baby girl not breathing.

The baby was reportedly in bed with her mother at the time. The baby was brought to University Hospitals where she was pronounced dead Saturday night.

It's one of those scenarios that goes down as a parent's worse nightmare. While an investigation is still underway as to exactly how the baby died, it brings up the issue of the baby sleep safety.

The front door of little Ravyn Merritt's home has a rose and a note of condolences to her parents from neighbors.

When next door neighbor Dewey Smith heard commotion, he said he ran over only to find the worst.

"She was standing by the sink crying, he was holding the baby in the living room. I touched it and it was still warm," he said, adding paramedics weren't hopeful because the child wasn't breathing.

The baby's mother in this case is, of course, beside herself, but during a brief chat with Cleveland 19 early Monday, she stressed she did not roll over onto her baby, but rather, had the baby girl cradled up against her.

Police say she most likely will not face charges.

"It's just tragic," said Celina Cunanan, director of University Hospital's Midwifery Division.

Cunanan is all too familiar with infant sleep-related deaths. She says it's one of the top three leading causes of infant mortality, and can happen to anyone.

"It's not that moms are careless, it's that they think they are doing the best that they can for their children. What they need to know is babies need to be alone in their cribs and nothing else in their cribs," Cunanan said.

She said babies should never be in bed with their parents.

That's the concern that prompted her to co-found what's called Baby's Need Boxes, a nonprofit that basically provides cardboard cribs to anyone who requests them.

"It meets all the needs of safety requirements of a bassinet here in the U.S. and it's just for moms who maybe don't have a lot of space," Cunanan said.

For more information on the Baby's Need Boxes program check out babyboxesuniversity.com

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