Infant Co-Sleeping Death and Second-Degree Child Abuse: What You Need To Know

Gavel depicting tragic infant co-sleeping deaths and the law

Have you ever co-slept with your infant without meaning to?

What if you had also had a few too many drinks the night before?

This heartbreaking situation could happen to so many new mothers. Many of us have had a few too many drinks at night. Sometimes mothers end up co-sleeping or bedsharing with their children or infants even if they don’t plan it that way.

Tragic Infant Death

Tiffany Michel, of Beaverton MI, has had to face the horrifying reality that she unintentionally killed her two-month-old daughter. And she’s currently serving her mandatory minimum sentence of 10 months in prison for second-degree child abuse.

Tiffany was initially arraigned on a charge of involuntary manslaughter but plead guilty to second-degree child abuse. She has three other children at home.

The night before baby Farrah’s death, Tiffany was partying with friends. She had a large amount of alcohol in her system. 

At some point in the middle of the night, she brought her infant daughter in bed with her and fell asleep.

Paramedics were called to the scene around 7:00 the next morning and pronounced the baby deceased on arrival.

During Tiffany’s sentencing, she was heard to beg the judge to be lenient because her husband works long hours, and she has three other children, ages 7, 5, and 3, at home.

Judge Mienk sentenced her to probation for three years and ten months in jail.

Warnings Against Co-Sleeping

If you have kids, you know doctors will always warn parents against co-sleeping with infants under the age of four months.

Tiffany’s heartbreaking story is the reason for these clear and decisive warnings from doctors. They are trying to protect moms, dads, and babies.

However, the other thing you know if you have kids is how difficult it can be to get out of bed every two to three hours for months to feed a newborn.

Sometimes, parents co-sleep unintentionally out of sheer exhaustion. Then there are the parents who intentionally co-sleep with their babies and cite research to suggest that it’s safer than putting the baby in a crib or sleep-training because it can reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

What is true? Is it safe to co-sleep or not?

Ironically, it appears as though the safest thing to do is to make a safe plan for co-sleeping even if you intend to never co-sleep.

Experts liken it to a safety belt worn in a car. You may never need it, but if you do, it may make the difference between life and death.

According to La Leche League International – a prominent breastfeeding and infant care support organization – there are seven steps to take to ensure safe bedsharing.

THE SAFE SLEEP SEVEN

If you are:

  1. A nonsmoker
  2. Sober and unimpaired
  3. A breastfeeding mother and your baby is:
  4. Healthy and full-term
  5. On his back
  6. Lightly dressed and you both are:
  7. On a safe surface

Again, it’s important to note that these are steps to follow even if you never want to bedshare because you may end up doing it anyway.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Tragically, Tiffany Michel didn’t follow at least one of these rules.

Takeaway

If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges following a tragic accident involving an infant, please call my office right away for your free consultation.

We will work together on the first step of your healing journey. We will work to make sure you don’t pay an unnecessarily harsh penalty for your tragedy.

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