Mother’s co-sleeping warning after tragic death of her seven-week-old ‘little princess’

Deleilah Woodford, who died when she was one month old, with her brother Deacon, 2. Photo: Shelby Sa

Deleilah Woodford, who died when she was one month old, with her brother Deacon, 2. Photo: Shelby Sands - Credit: Shelby Sands

A young mother has given a poignant warning against co-sleeping after the tragic death of her 'little princess' at just seven weeks old.

Deleilah Woodford, who died when she was one month old.Photo: Shelby Sands

Deleilah Woodford, who died when she was one month old.Photo: Shelby Sands - Credit: Shelby Sands

And as Shelby Sands, 19, approaches her due date for her second son, Marley, she vowed her family will never forget the daughter they lost.

Little Deleilah Woodford died on July 3 last year, at the family home in The Glebe, Stibbard.

And Norfolk Coroners Court heard this afternoon how her parents, Miss Sands and partner Wesley Woodford, had been out at a VW festival in Holt the night before.

Miss Sands' sister Abbi had offered to babysit Deleilah, two-year-old Deacon, along with her own daughter Madison.

Deleilah Woodford, who died when she was one month old, with her brother Deacon, 2. Photo: Shelby Sa

Deleilah Woodford, who died when she was one month old, with her brother Deacon, 2. Photo: Shelby Sands - Credit: Shelby Sands


You may also want to watch:


She had woken up at around 1.30am on the Sunday to feed Deleilah, who had been in intensive care for five days after she was born.

But Miss Sands came home while her sister was feeding the baby. She offered to take over and took her upstairs to bed.

Most Read

The family then woke up around 9.30am to find Deleilah laying face down at the bottom of her parents' bed, not breathing.

Reading evidence, Area Coroner Yvonne Blake said: 'About 9.30am Abbi went up to the room, opened the door and could see Deleilah laying face down on the duvet.'

Shelby Sands, 19, whose daughter Deleilah died aged seven weeks. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Shelby Sands, 19, whose daughter Deleilah died aged seven weeks. Photo: Geraldine Scott - Credit: Geraldine Scott

She picked the baby up and then screamed to wake up Miss Sands and Mr Woodford, before Abbi and her mother, Sarah, ran to neighbours for help.

Nurse Vicky Willamott tried to revive Deleilah while paramedics rushed to the home, before she was taken to hospital in King's Lynn, where she was pronounced dead.

A post-mortem found no evidence of any injuries, or abnormalities - except for those consistent with CPR being given.

And tests done on Miss Sands and Mr Woodford found there were no drugs in their systems, and a small amount of alcohol.

But Dr Nat Cary, in his conclusion, said what he found was in keeping with co-sleeping with a danger of smothering.

Ms Blake said: 'They could not tell what it was but it's well recognised co-sleeping is a risk for unexpected death at this age.'

Giving her conclusion, Ms Blake added: 'I think everyone accepts it's a terrible accident. I think the best way to describe it is that it's an accidental death, clearly there was no malice or intention, it's just a terrible tragedy. And I think you're never going to get over it, but you may learn to live with it.'

Speaking after the inquest Miss Sands, who wears a locket inscribed 'Always in our hearts' with Deleilah's photo inside, said: 'I will never forget her, she will always be our thoughts at all times.'

She said Deacon had a loving relationship with his little sister, and always talks about her.

'We go up to her grave and he puts flowers on it, he has his own little thing for the flowers,' she said. 'I tell him she's in heaven with the other angels, and that's what I'll tell Marley too.

'I'd tell others to think again about co-sleeping, it's so easy to fall asleep while breastfeeding. For me, when I have Marley, I will be more aware of it. She was beautiful, our little princess, she'll always be missed and loved by all of us.'

Advice on co-sleeping

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) updated its recommendations about co-sleeping in December 2014 and confirmed that although Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is rare, it does happen more often when parents or carers sleep with a baby (on a bed, sofa or chair).

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS is the term used to describe the sudden and unexpected death of a baby that remains unexplained after thorough investigation.

The NICE guidance doesn't distinguish between co-sleeping on sofas or chairs and bed-sharing, but charity The Lullaby Trust says you should never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby.

They say you should never share a bed with your baby if you smoke, if you've drunk alcohol, or if the baby was born before 37 or at less than 2.5kg.

For more information on co-sleeping visit bit.ly/2kEqJW0

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus