How Co-Sleeping Saved My Baby: Apnea and SIDS

Up to 10 percent of children are thought to have an undiagnosed sleep disorder. Sleep disorders range from restless legs syndrome to circadian rhythm disorders to obstructive apnea and what I’m talking about in this blog, Central Apnea.  Many of my sleep clients wonder if their child has a sleep disorder, and having been there, I help them look for the signs and get a sleep study if needed.

Central Apnea is why premature or ill babies are on apnea monitors in the hospital and it is why some babies go home with apnea monitors. The central nervous system (brain) Baby with motheris not well-developed or regulated and can “forget” to breathe properly during sleep. But central apnea (called Apnea of Infancy in babies) can effect a baby all the way until 2 years or more and it isn’t always preemies. Bear with me, this is going to be about co-sleeping and SIDS.

I know about central apnea because my daughter was diagnosed with it at 7 months old. We were hoping for obstructive apnea which would have been easier to fix. Iris wasn’t premature but she never slept longer than an hour at a time. As it turns out, some brains take longer to develop proper sleep-breathing regulation and it isn’t only preemies. If sleep specialists estimate that more than 10 percent of children have an undiagnosed sleep disorder- maybe these sleep-breathing or night-waking problems so many of us have are really…kinda normal? It is an interesting question.

I thought Iris was having normal newborn behavior but as we reached 6 months of sleeping for an hour at a time, I knew something was wrong. I was very confused. As a postpartum doula and infant nanny, I had help many children learn to sleep well and I had never seen any of them wake every hour. I knew every trick. I tried everything but cry it out and even when I let her cry a little bit, there was no change. If she was extremely upset or ill and had been crying- sleep did not get any better.

For months I either told myself that periodic breathing was normal or that it wasn’t happening. I told myself, “she’s just sleeping so deeply, I can’t hear or feel her.” But that was a joke, my child had never slept soundly.  Intuitively I knew she was having to wake up to breathe. We co-slept so I could hear her stop and then I could feel her startle awake again and cry. Her apneas were usually very short but they were so frequent that her sleep study at 8months did show low blood oxygen.

There really were only a small handful of times that I thought Iris was in danger and looked grayish and that it had been more than ten seconds since I’d noticed no breathing. Those times I woke her myself if I thought she wasn’t breathing- simply by leaning close and breathing into to her face and she would gasp and start crying. So we co-slept and I breathed on her all night, and she woke constantly all night (and because of all of the waking, we had her tested for various sleep apneas.

In fact, by the time I felt done with doctors, we had seen 4 sleep specialists and had two overnight sleep studies. The first doctor diagnosed Iris with central sleep apnea- something he hoped she would grow out of. He refused to treat her with c-pap, caffeine therapy or carbon dioxide therapy treatments I had researched because the   We were told she would likely grow out of it sometime, and in the meantime, Cry It Out might help. So each doctor told us that though our child definitely had a medical disorder that caused her to wake frequently and frightened, we should let her Cry It Out each time, for the sake of our sleep.

That set me on the journey of a lifetime. I re-read every sleep book. I collected and read every study on infant and child sleep. I learned that all young babies (and even adults) can have 15-20 second pauses between breathing while asleep. The trick is whether or not the child is able to come out of it and how quickly. The verdict was out as to whether all of that waking is a central or obstructive apnea or if it is a normal brain function. It is understood that the main mechanism to prevent breathing disaster is the body’s ability to wake up during one of these pauses. This is why I had a girl who woke so frequently and why I still have a child who wakes frequently when her breathing is already hampered by a respiratory infection. She has mostly grown out of the Central Apnea. And I also spent a segment of time between 14 and 18 months slowly and gently weaning Iris off of the other sleep associations that were troubling us namely stuffing the boob in her mouth to get her back to sleep a without me absolutely having to be in the room in order for her to sleep. As the apnea eased a bit and I was sure she wouldn’t die of it, I finally felt comfortable helping her with some gentle sleep learning with my presence.

There are some studies about a “correlation” of Apnea and SIDS and other studies which simply believed that a child with Apnea was more susceptible to SIDS. But most parents of non-preemie children with Apnea do not find the diagnosis right away.  Many families go through multiple life threatening events where the baby is found gray or blue in a crib without getting any medical help and so do wind up with a child on an apnea monitor. (We know this from the SIDS stories. Many parents report previous breathing issues with sleep.) And I personally worry that with children with undiagnosed central apnea who consistently sleep in a separate room might have some apnea episodes they come out of on their own that nobody notices and then eventually one fatal accident (SIDS).

Dr. Tom Keens at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles has said on the SIDS Network:

“One THEORY about SIDS is that all babies have respiratory pauses during sleep, which can last up to 15-20 seconds. This appears to be normal. The question arises how babies ‘rescue’ themselves from these breathing pauses. One hypothesis is that waking up, or arousal from sleep, is an important defense mechanism we all have to protect us from potentially dangerous situations during sleep. The THEORY would suggest that babies have many breathing pauses. However, if they do not arouse in response to one of them, they might not be able to get out of the apnea, and this could cause death. Personally, our group has done a fair amount of research on arousal in infants, and I BELIEVE that it might be important with respect to SIDS. However, this has not been proven.”

Obviously, much more research must be done, especially on how infants “revive themselves” after apnea events. Maybe infants shouldn’t be left to revive themselves at all. There really isn’t much human newborn can do for itself in any other area. When studying prone sleep position, researchers found that future SIDS victims had less arousability when sleeping. And I do know one thing: breastfeeding, co-sleeping babies are more easily roused and don’t sleep as deeply. The same is true for their parents.  I doubted this for a long time until I read the evidence because I feared it would prove right the anti-breastfeeding, anti-co-sleeping naysayers who said our baby’s sleep waking was simply fault. But crib sleeping didn’t “feel” safe. And for us, as it turned out, a crib wouldn’t have been.

When we talk about arousals from sleep, and prevention of apneas, we talk about carbon dioxide. Breathing in carbon dioxide (say, from a sleeping parent?) is what stimulates human breathing- our brains noticing carbon dioxide in the blood stream actually drives us to breathe regularly. If we have a ton of oxygen, our lungs do not need to work so hard and theoretically might work sluggishly. Adult patients with old-age or heart/brain injury induced central apnea are treated with carbon dioxide! A minuscule amount of extra carbon dioxide can prevent long apnea attacks in adults and premature infants.

In autopsies from SIDS deaths, they find that breathing has stopped, but they do not find a cause. Central Apnea as sole cause of death is not something that can be found by autopsy and so I fear we miss those causes. With a death from central apnea, there is no tests that reveal central apnea. In an Ultrasound of brain and MRI, there was nothing that showed my daughter’s brain to be different. I was told that central apnea was an immaturity of the brain stem but that it was very hard to detect. In fact, many autopsies of SIDS victims show minute differences in the brain stem (central apnea) or respiratory system (obstructive apnea) but apnea is not ruled cause of death and is simply called “SIDS.”

Medicine is failing families by not finding cause and prevention of SIDS. What if a study led us to be able to say, “Co-sleeping and breastfeeding together are 99percent effective against SIDS”   SIDS would no longer be this mysterious sudden infant death, it would be a lethal combination of central apnea (something which matures over time) and sub-optimal sleep conditions. Finding out more about apneas and sleep deaths would involve sleep studies of random babies at various ages while co-sleeping and crib-sleeping and comparing many factors including sleep factors for the parents, sleep studies of apneic and control co-sleeping and non-cosleeping babies, formula versus breastmilk, vaccination schedule (since the age of the largest amount of first vaccines correlates to the age of the greatest risk for SIDS), stress level of the parents substance usage by the parents and much more.

I wish the legendary Dr. Ferber (with his Cry It Out method of sleep training) at his sleep institute would concentrate his work and funding on something important like this, something that would save lives instead of injure brains. Fortunately, Dr. James McKenna is doing some great work and I hope central apnea will factor into his work in the future. There needs to be a study like this one on co-sleeping and arousability.

I guess I just don’t believe in a mysterious thing that kills babies with no cause. I have friends who lost a child to SIDS and I know they would also like an answer. I want to trust that by either evolution or creation, our otherwise healthy babies are born to breathe and live. It seems that the more frequent waking and nursing that co-sleeping babies do might be actually adaptive, rather than maladaptive (yet a pain in our butts, for sure!)

Should newborn babies be tested for apnea in order to prevent some cases of SIDS? Hmm, maybe. Should breastfeeding mamas be encouraged to co-sleep because might literally prevent SIDS (SIDS is by definition a “crib death”) ?  I say: Yes.  Breastfeeding and Co-sleeping don’t work for everyone. Some mamas cannot sleep with a baby on them, some mamas cannot breastfeed. I just think we need to have a better assessment of everyone’s risks.

For more information on the actual risks for SIDS deaths and politics surrounding, read here:

If you need me, I’ll be helping families here:

Rare photo of Iris sleeping! (Note, animals are for the photo, never let your infant sleep with this many stuffies).



About mooreamalatt

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54 Responses to How Co-Sleeping Saved My Baby: Apnea and SIDS

  1. Melissa Vose says:

    Excellent post! Well said. And very informative, thank you!
    I have an inkling that the next generation’s big parenting shift will be to realize that cosleeping is an imperative safety issue. Just like our parents brought us home from the hospital on their laps and now we are shocked and horrified and have all these fancy carseats~ our kids will grow up (I think) to be shocked and horrified that our generation put our babies to sleep alone in separate rooms.
    Here’s hoping…

  2. Leah says:

    I find it so ridiculous that it is mainstream to think that co-sleeping is dangerous and can cause SIDS. I don’t know if Cora has central apnea, but she does have obstructive apnea. I can’t imagine not having her next to me, since I am always worried about her breathing at night. There have been so many people who want to know what we’ve tried to encourage her to sleep better, and I am always hesitant to listen to others since there is such a range of opinion on this matter. A mom who always puts her baby in a crib or in another room will deal with things SO differently than I will. I am proud that you are putting your thoughts and opinions and research out there.

  3. Very convincing, Moorea! I have the same thoughts about co-sleeping and SIDS prevention. Thanks for your living witness!

  4. Aleta says:

    I appreciate this and have an article for you about co-sleeping….in fact, it is why we have reverted to co-sleeping with a 5 & 6 year old after a couple years of separate rooms (and we ALL sleep better together than we did apart!).

  5. Camille says:

    Amazing story! We need to get more stories like this out there to combat the awful co-sleeping myths.

  6. mae says:

    I came across this page because I seen a doctor today about my child’s breathing. She is now 5 and her breathing has always paused off and on. I have told doctors about this in the past and they have never treated it like it is a problem. The reason I had the appt today was, yesterday during a nap she coughed a few times, so I checked on her and around her eyes were gray. My sister was with me and I told her to look at my DD and she thought the gray color around her eyes looked weird also. Then my DD seemed like she wasn’t breathing, so I tried to wake her and it took prob around 20-30 sec to get her to open her eyes. I told the doctor I still have her sleep with me at night because she does seem like she stops breathing during sleep. The doctor told me it is normal for children to do things like this and then told me she is doing this because I have her sleep with me. She said if I made her sleep in her own bed her breathing would be better, I really don’t think sleeping by herself would help her breathing. I am so scared to put her in a bed by herself!

    • mooreamalatt says:

      Thank you for writing, Mae! What really helped me was the one doctor I ever liked telling me “So she stops breathing in her sleep..that is scary. But she always wakes up and she hasn’t died yet, so at this point you can probably relax knowing plenty of children have pauses in breathing. I would imagine that your daughter can only benefit from the extra C02 in the room when you are there. Mine always seemed to have the longer scary pauses when I had not been in the room. But I am not scared to put her asleep by herself because sleep is such a huge part of life and I cannot be there. I have to find a place of trust and faith. Faith is what I found when no doctor would help us. I have to trust that my DD was born unique and that she wouldn’t be taken away from me. You can see a pediatric sleep specialist if you just want to know better what is going on in her sleep, it will provide some good information but that doesn’t mean that you will get help with her breathing and likely if they find any obstructive apneas (which many people have), they will want to do unnecessary surgical removal of adenoids and tonsils. You do need the test and surgery would maybe be needed if you notice snoring (and then see an ENT dr. after sleep test and before surgery.) xo Moorea find me on Facebook if you have questions!

    • Mama B says:

      Listen to your gut, mama!! It it’s not normal for her to stop breathing and it will not make her breath better to sleep alone. I would get a few more opinions and change doctors immediately.

  7. Alex says:

    My daughter had obstructive apnea, co sleeping certainly saved her and kept her going until she was big enough for surgery. Kangaroo care was amazing, to this day now aged nine my daughter still attempts kangaroo care when she is unwell, it is a bit more awkward with long legs 🙂

  8. Gina says:

    Sleep apnea of prematurity was one of the hardest things we have ever gone through. Our daughters were born 9 weeks premature and suffered from apnea and bradycardia. It was so scary! Thank you for sharing your story.

  9. megan bramante says:

    My daughter Anastasia is 10 days old nd from what the drs told me perfect in every way… for the past few days i have been co-sleeping with her because her breathing patterns freak me out… it seems as though she is choking on her own air supply while sleeping… your column helped ease my mind immensely… if you have any suggestions on what is should do please email me @
    thank you 🙂

  10. hoalheart says:

    Our son was born full-term (38 weeks) and when he was 2 days old I noticed him turning blue around his mouth. Long long story short he was diagnosed with apnea of infancy, central sleep apnea. He underwent a series of tests to rule out the most common causes of cyanosis. After a month in the NICU, we brought him home on oxygen and monitor. We were told he’d likely outgrow it by 6 months of age but he’s now 5 months and still has multiple episodes of pauses in his breathing leading to low oxygen level. I’m worried of long-term effects. We co-sleep because it’s the only our family can rest. When did your daughter outgrow her apnea?

    • Jazmin says:

      My daughter was born full term at 38 in half weeks. We left the hospital perfectly fine. At 3weeks old I noticed she would cry a lot in the night time like something was bothering her. Then one night she threw up her milk n fell right to sleep, the following morning I decided to take her to the doctor for a check up. God placed me at the docs office at the right time. While there I was waiting to me called. My daughter was in her car seat next to me on the other chair when I looked at her she was blue I grabbed her so hard the straps of the car seat popped open. I was rushed in where CPR was performed and rush to the children’s hospital. They wanted to release her that same night stating she is fine we can’t find anything but I refused to leave until I had answers. I stayed 1 week in the hospital with my daughter which was extremely difficult as I also have a 5 year old son. Long story short I had them run blood work, MRI, X-rays n den I said perform a sleep study, when they did my daughter not only stopped breathing for 20 seconds but also suffered from acid reflux. She would choke on her milk which would stop her breathing. She is now about to be 9 months old and she is still on the apnea monitor. As much as I want her off I’m scared, I’m so scared to have her off. Her respiratory doctor told me that SIDS is sleep apnea but they rule out apnea when a death occurs and call it SIDS becuz so many babies r born with apnea. I hear his words over n over n I refuse to take my daughter off. My husband is annoyed with that fact but honestly I don’t care. Ill do anything to make sure my daughter is breathing and healthy. She has been sleeping with us is the age of 3 weeks old. I can’t imagine her sleeping in another room and choking or not breathing. I pray everyday n ask Jesus to give me strength as well as my daughter…

  11. a lady and morher says:

    I know first hand.. that my Daughter Veda would have been lost to sids.
    co sleeping saved my beautiful intelligent and funny little girl.
    she was not born with any real complications. however I did have gestational diabetes when I was pregnant. they put me on insulin afraid that shed be born big.. she was in a heAlthy range but a full pound smaller than my first child.
    when I brought her home without questions I was breastfeeding and co sleeping.
    one night while asleep I actually slept so softly every single night that I was alwAys aware of my child’s every toe wiggle and squirm.
    because of this co sleeping saved my daughter.
    it was early in the morning the sun was barely making an the sky brighten. it was still mostly dark in our room.
    I hadn’t felt Veda move or wiggle in awhile… I reached over gently laying my hand on her chest.. it was not moving… I sat up wide eyed and noticed color wasn’t her fair porclin but Instead a pasty nearly grey. her flushed pink lips were translucent and lighter than her skin…
    I began to panic and began attempting to startle wake her… she wasn’t budging.. I began undressing her and taking off her pajamas trying to stimulate her but she was limp. I began wailing and her father woke up rolling over from the other end of the king size bed.. I began making little tiny chest compressions and miraculously she opened her eyes.
    if she wasn’t a co sleeper I know I would have lost my precious little one. I’m blessed to still have her.
    I strongly strongly recommend co sleeping. make sure though the infant is never able to get mixed into blankets or layed on.make sure he she has pkeanty of their own sleeping space.
    it could save their lives.. and please breastfeed.
    this will return controversial I’m sure. but if you have babies and don’t breastfeed for at least a year… in my opinion if you don’t you are selfish and have absolutely no business having children.
    if you can’t sacrifice that much for a year you will never be able to make the necessary sacrifices of proper parenting.
    you’ll probally say… oh my nipples didn’t work or oh my baby wouldn’t latch on, truth is if i just described your tragic case. I call you a shallow liar… I believe this in perhaps .0001% of the cases. but even men that’s rights males can nurse a baby after continuously putting a baby to even a male breast will produce milk… in time to feed a new born.
    so don’t give up and don’t make excuses.
    please if you make a desicision to procreate remember it’s a lifetime decision and commitment .

    • Jennifer says:

      So shame on the mothers that couldn’t produce. Just cuz I didn’t produce doesn’t make me a horrible mother. Oh and I tried for about a month but I wasn’t going to let my baby starve either.

    • Brandi Richardson says:

      A male can not produce milk…they font have milk ducts…lol. I couldn’t nurse but I pumped for a year with my third. I lost my first at ten weeks old. My milk dried up with my second at 5 months with the flue and I tried tore lactate. Until my nipples where bleeding and split opened. The well was dry. Not every woman can produce. My best friends milk ducts.
      went flat/deflated showed on ultrasound

    • Nic says:

      I’m sure you’re a good mother. As your little one grows, try not to be judgmental of people. It will make you a much better role model for her.

    • Nichole M says:

      I am glad your daughter is a live, however, what a horrible thing to say about breastfeeding. I’m researching boards because I have become obsessed with SIDS as part of being diagnosed with PPA. You’re a pretty horrible person to shame mothers who can’t breastfeed or have to supplement their milk with formula. Also, your co-sleeping in the bed could have possibly been why your infant stopped breathing. Perhaps you should stop giving medical advice when you’re not perfect.

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  13. Katelyn l says:

    Thank you so much for doing the work and showing people that cosleeping is actual a good thing. All I’ve heard from my family is constant complaints that in going to cause a health problem or a behavior problem by sleeping wth my baby.

  14. Rachel says:

    The more I read this the more I understood myself as a child. My mom said when I was a baby I would frequently stop breathing, they had chalked it up to the heart condition I had. She said it happened quite often and I nearly died of SIDS because of it. She said that she did co-sleeping with me and would blow air in my face when I stopped breathing. I myself did not co-sleep with my daughter but by my mom doing it with me as a child she save my life many times.

  15. Michelle says:

    Apnea runs in my family so before my son was born I knew that he’d either sleep with me or use a monitor (we have an Angel Care Monitor) that gives off an alarm if he stops breathing more than 20 seconds. He stops breathing for 5-10 seconds on a regular basis but we have had several scary apnea episodes… when co-sleeping I ‘just know’ when he has stopped breathing and wake up to ‘look, listen & feel’ for breathing. Just the other night (he’s now 15-months) he had a serious episode and it took me about 8-10 seconds to get him breathing again. If he had been in his own room in a crib without me or a motion/breathing monitor then we could have lost him. Personally I would encourage all parents to use a motion/breathing monitor if your baby sleeps in their own cradle or crib. It has gone off several times for us when my son was in his own crib and alerted us to help him.
    To the mom a few posts up who bashed moms who can’t breastfeed, your statistics are all wrong. There are plenty of moms who have done everything right and tried everything their doctor and lactation consultant recommended but still could not produce milk. Their inability to breastfeed their baby has already caused a great deal of emotional pain and getting bashed by you with your lack of correct information is a shame and you should be ashamed of yourself for what you said. Get your facts right before you bash moms for medical conditions that are beyond their control. If you are a mom struggling with nursing please see a lactation consultant or join a breastfeeding moms support group. I’m still nursing my 15-month-old even with being pregnant (and my milk is almost dried up due to pregnancy) but LC’s and support groups are great help to get advice on increasing your supply, help when you’re struggling with something, advice on supplemental nursing systems (for when you medically can’t produce enough milk), etc.

    • mooreamalatt says:

      Good going, mama! I love that you had a monitor for newborn care because you had a family history of apnea!

    • Monique says:

      What is the name of the monitor you used? My 10 day old has periods of apnea and she freaks me out! I am constantly watching her sleep and listening for when she starts and stops breathing again. I have had to wake her up a few times startling her, making her jerk to breath again. I am calling the doc in the A.M. (currently 2:30am) and asking about this scary ordeal. I do not sleep, not because she is up but because I am scared to not watch her while she sleeps. Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.

  16. Camille says:

    The only way my son would sleep for long periods of time at night was when I held him close and fed him immediately when he woke. This resulted in co-sleeping and bed sharing as the only way I could get sleep myself was if he was right next to me so I could just pop my boob in his mouth without having to get up and get him. Ive also always been a light sleeper and i dont really move a lot when i sleep. (I actually think i have apnea myself cuz im always suddenly jolted awake out of no where through out the night, and my nurses mentioned it to me while i was in the hospital after giving birth to my son.) I kept all pillows and blankets away from him and dressed him warmly if it was cold. As soon as he fell into a deep sleep, I laid him on his back until he learned how to roll, after that he slept every which way. My point is, co-sleeping seems natural and to me and I’m glad to have him close to me while he sleeps so I can keep an eye on him.

    • mooreamalatt says:

      Thanks for commending, Camille! Looks like you had a natural transition out of arms 😉 And yes, suddenly jolting awake can be a sign of apnea. If you have low energy or concentration you might want to get checked out. xo

  17. Robyn says:

    Very informative, my grand daughter suffers from sleep apnoea. She’s been hospital since birth minus 3 days. First time discharge Good Friday this year, back in Easter Sunday, skin a horrible greyish colour. Second discharge 10May, back in Mothers Day and still in. Having sleep test Thursday,I also co parented all my children [9 of them], never had any problems having them in my bed

  18. Alyson says:

    My Xavier passed away August 2nd of this year. I breastfed. we co-slept. His cause of death is listed as SIDS. While I still believe in co-sleeping, please do not think this will “save” your baby from SIDS. SIDS is an UNEXPLAINED death. It means that they have ruled out suffocation, they have ruled out choking, that an autopsy has been done and they have found NO MEDICAL REASON. No heart problems, no lung issues, no illness. Nothing. My Xavier was perfectly healthy. I did the same things I did with all my other babies. Sleep apnea and SIDS are two different things. Sleep apnea is when they go blue and limp and CAN be revived. A SIDS baby just stops. Just stops and goes grey and NO amount of lifesaving measures will help or bring them back. Xavier was found within minutes, because he was in bed with us and my husband noticed he had gone cold. CPR did nothing. Paramedics didn’t help. Hospital couldn’t do anything. This is the case for all SIDS babies, no matter how quickly they are found, they are NEVER brought back. if they are brought back, it isn’t SIDS.

    • mooreamalatt says:

      Alyson, I’m very sorry for your loss. I feel I need to correct here that babies definitely due die from apnea (central and obstructive). They die both alone and with a parent right there. Central apnea (apnea of infancy) does not show on autopsy and therefore there can not be listed as apnea death and I believe that is why this correlation can’t really be made yet. These two are only put together when the parents already know a diagnosis of apnea before death. It is proven that apneic babies are more likely to die suddenly, and some are even labeled SIDS. And many Drs.concerned about SIDS speculate that Apnea could be a cause, mostly because Apnea is under-diagnosed and therefore we do not know if some children who die from SIDS had apnea. You are correct that there is no proof of a link yet, but it isn’t true that Apnea babies always wake up and start breathing. I hate to think that we should stay with the idea that SIDS is random and without cause for that would mean that there is nothing we can do to prevent tragedies like yours. xo Moorea

  19. Tanya Nicholas says:

    My baby is 3 mths and was born 2 mths early and has slept in a bassinet 1 time the night I brought her home and I will not put her back in there or in her own bed until she is about a year It just didn’t feel right and she has slept with me since

  20. crystal says:

    I write this through tears as I lost my Daughter 3 years ago to “SIDS”. She wasn’t breathing with she was born and they roused her and she was fine ,about an hour later she turned blue after falling asleep nursing ,I blew in her face and she breathed told the nurses and led all said it was normal. For 6 nights she slept on my chest and never had a problem then I put her in cosleeper on bed out of pressure from everyone, when I awoke that morning she had passed during the night, hardest thing ever and had coroner in my face acting like I killed her ,the cops even stepped in And threatened to take him to jail because he apparently assumed all cases were murder. They lab led my Ireland’s death SIDS and I know in my heart it was hospitals fault for refusing to check her. I live with it everyday that I went against my instinct and for that she is gone.

    • mooreamalatt says:

      Oh mama! my heart goes out to you! Apneas beyond those of prematurity are completely ignored. I wish there was some way for moms to be listened to. Of course they didn’t refused to test my daughter but they did refuse to treat it because they had no idea what to do. Drs. have refused to test my clients and friends, though. With all of the $ spent on “Back to sleep” campaigns it is deplorable that more studies haven’t looked at central apneas and “SIDS” deaths. So far one study “can’t find a correlation”. So difficult when central apnea can’t found in the autopsy. Babies with moms who suspect breathing problems must be tested!!! so much love to you! I hope you have been blessed or will be blessed with more kiddos in your life. -Moorea

  21. Rhiannon Isa says:

    I have co-slept with my son since the day he was born. I ended up having a c-section (after 36 hours of labor they started losing his heartbeat). So even having a c-section, he slept in my hospital bed with me. Although I was only able to breastfeed for 2 months, he still slept with me. I know its not as safe to co-sleep with formula fed babies but even with his crib right next to my bed (where my nnightstand used to be), I still couldn’t stand having him that far away. I came across this post because as im laying here next to him, hes having pauses in his breathing. So im trying to figure it out. All im getting is apnea, but of course I dont want to jump to any conclusions. He stops breathing anywhere between 5-15 seconds. He snores very rarely. He sweats, but no tossing and turning. No coughing. Literally only has two symptoms of apnea (pauses in breathing & sweating). /: He’s already got an appointment to so a pulmonary dr so ill definitely talk to his pediatrician about setting up a sleep test. Either way, he has always and will always sleep either with me, or in a bed right next to me when hes like 5 (LOL). Im a very light sleeper so I always know his every move.

    • mooreamalatt says:

      How did it go, Rhiannon? I’m sorry I didn’t see this message for a while! Usually pauses are 20 seconds before they worry too hard about apnea. It sounds more like a central apnea than an obstructive but likely you will find out more. Once your little one is over 5mo, co-sleeping and bottle feeding together is *less* dangerous, fyi. xo-Moorea. email me moorea @ if you have other questions!

  22. telesha says:

    I had my daughter on the 17th of April, it was a Thursday. I noticed she was breathing funny when we brought her home when she slept. That Monday only a few days old she was in her cradle and swing and I checked on her she was fine. I looked back over not even two minutes later and she was blue in her face with her head leaned back and foaming out of her mouth not breathing. I immediately took her out and started patting her back blowing in her face etc. I started going into panic mode and gave her to her dad and he ended up getting her to breathe. She went to children’s hospital and had surgery for laryngomalasia or however you spell it, her skin was too floppy in her larynx and would suction shut on her when CRYING so that wasn’t what stopped her from breathing. They did Ross heart echo tests and other tests on her heart, perfect, lungs xrays, perfect, mri, perfect, SLEEP STUDY… severe central sleep apnea and mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, she also has acid reflux, strider and laryngomalasia. She is on oxygen and monitors at home after a week and a half at children’s. They called what happened to her an “ALTE” apparent life threatening event… I kind of think it was SIDS… I have read a lot about her apneas and have read that SIDS is associated with central sleep apnea. She now sleeps with me and I don’t care who frowns upon it. I can’t lose her and I feel like I could save her faster with her right by me. She’s almost two months old now andddd we go to the doctor once to twice a week. They said they believe she will grow out of it that her brain needs time to mature and she will have another sleep study in September. I pray everyday for her because it just isn’t fair, she’s innocent. Does anybody know how long it takes for babies to grow out of central sleep apnea??

    • mooreamalatt says:

      Tlesha! What an ordeal you have been through! I commiserate and understand! Very scary. There is no amount of time anyone can promise you she will grow out of central apnea but her brainstem will mature in time. My daughter is now 4 and has occasional wakes from central apneas (she knows how to put herself back to sleep most of the time). She now sleeps by herself because I eventually trusted that the centrals wouldn’t kill her and we worked on some important gentle sleep learning skills that I now teach to other parents (after 9mo). Good on you for trusting your instinct to be near her now. They would not give me oxygen for home but that would have really put my mind at ease- they simply refused to try to treat my daughter so my treatment was to sleep next to her until she was bigger. They do grow out of central apneas of otherwise health and brain function is good. Many more babies than we know have central apneas and I do personally feel like central apnea is highly correlated to SIDS- I think that information isn’t coming out because they don’t know how to do anything that really fixes central apnea. And they aren’t likely to recommend co-sleeping because they have already said that co-sleeping is dangerous. email me if you need to talk further moorea @ xo HUGS

  23. Katie says:

    Your child’s story is similar to mine. My baby wakes every hour and is 10 months. She had a sleep study at 6 months which showed central apnea with 15% of the time in periodic breathing. She dips low enough that she needs 1/4 L of oxygen with sleep. It has felt like having a newborn for 10 months…utter exhaustion. The specialist hopes she will outgrow this by 12 months but there is no improvement. Every time I take her off oxygen she reverts into the periodic breathing pattern and low oxygen sats. She was not premature. Just hoping you can tell me that things will get better with time. Has your child improved. Have you heard of other’s experiences with this issue? Thank you so much for the article!

    • mooreamalatt says:

      Yes, my daughter has improved loads! She is still gradually growing out of it. At 4 years she wakes once or twice from apneas but rolls over and puts herself back to sleep. I no longer sleep in the same room so I notice only on vacation. I was terrified to do any sort of sleep learning with her because of her central apnea. I eventually worked with her to learn how to sleep better when she woke and now I teach a gentle (no cry it out) sleep learning method to other parents. After I long enough time I was convinced the desats and periodic breathing would not kill her and I taught her how to sleep with less help from me when she woke up. I think your daughter will get better as well! Let me know if you need any help or want to talk more! moorea @

    • Kristin says:

      Katie, I read your post and feel like we are living the same situation! My daughter was born at 38 weeks, and around 6 days old, I noticed what felt like a high frequency of periodic breathing. Nothing more than 5-10 seconds, but several times an hour. Turns out her O2 levels were in the mid to low 80s. Went through what feels like every test and all studies have shown is that it’s a maturation issue and that she will grow out of it. She just turned 2 months and I’m not noticing much difference. Just praying that she will turn the corner soon, but the vagueness of timing and diagnosis is exhausting. Would love to hear if your child’s has resolved.

  24. Katie says:

    Oh…and yes, we are co-sleeping. No other way to survive this!

  25. Victoria says:

    Loved reading this article! I found another great one:

    My daughter is 10 weeks old, 5 weeks adjusted. She was born at 35 weeks. She needed the CPAP at birth for two days, and came home on oxygen after a week in the NICU. She desaturates on room air while sleeping because she still is a periodic breather. I am an RN and love research. So, much to my husband’s dismay, I’ve been researching a lot!

    I wonder if living at high altitude, 7,000 feet, contributes to her oxygen desaturations?

    Since she does have the periodic breathing still, is she at a higher risk for SIDS?

    She is only apneic for 5-10 seconds, that I’m aware of….will this possibly progress to central apnea with longer episodes and the need to either wake up or die?

    My pediatrician says that she doesn’t need to see a Pediatric Pulmonologist because she just needs to grow out of this….I just don’t want to wish I had done something else down the road…

  26. Karen says:

    I know that this neurologist doesn’t directly address this issue as it applies to infants but the vit d3 link may apply to them as well. Definitely worth watching — and then getting the vit d3 level measured and fixed if too low!

  27. Sleep disorders range from restless legs syndrome to circadian rhythm …

  28. margarita says:

    My baby is 11 months and still sleeps with me.
    Good info, make a lot of sense. Thank you

  29. Eggshen says:

    My baby was born one day off full term and was big weighing 9lb 1.. He was grunting at birth and was given oxygen before being taken up to NICU as they thought he would need further help to breathe but by the time they got him there he was breathing on his own. I remember odd occasions since when he has looked very grey whilst sleeping but then when he was 5 months old he woke up one morning again looking very grey and feeling limp and it was very hard for me to stimulate him. As the day progressed he had more and more episodes and was admitted in to hospital where they ran a lumbar puncture and CT scan as they wanted to rule out meningitis and enchephalitus as I was told they thought he was having seizures. All results came back clear and he was being checked on the hour and was now having episodes where he would turn blue and his o2 would drop to as low as 20%. Drs were running in and out all with varying opinions.. One saying it was a seizure, another saying it was an apnea, another saying it was a breath holding episode. He was eventually put on Phenytoin (an anti seizure drug) which seem to stop the episodes and then sent to an amazing children’s hospital where an MRIscan, 2EEG’s, 2 ECGs, metabolic tests, organic test and blood test have all come back negative. The consultant said that these episodes were probably a result of a virus and so we stared to wean him off the drug and he was episode free. Then 3 weeks ago he had another episode where he went blue and looked like her was trying to breath but couldn’t.. We rang an ambulance and I gave him some rescue breaths to try and pick his oxygen levels back up. He came round before the ambulance got there and taken to hospital and checked over. We were therefor convinced he did have a seizure related disorder and needed to go back on the drug..Up until today when we received a call from a consultant saying that she thinks he actually has central apnea rather than a seizure disorder and that the last episode just coincidently happened when his drug dose was so low. She asked me questions about how he sleeps and if he snores.. But he doesnt.. If anything he is a very quiet sleeper but he does sweat in his sleep and he has been a bad sleeper since birth.. The only thing that has helped me get any sleep is having him in bed with us.. It’s the only way he will sleep longer than for an hour. She wants him to have the sleep study and suspects that’s his gasp reflex isn’t working properly.. So as his oxygen levels drop he should gasp but doesn’t and she also thinks this is what happened to him at birth.. When he came out he didn’t gasp for air like he should have. Also.. Whenever he had had these episodes he had always had a cold or virus (at birth he had an infection which he was treated for) and she think that having a cold/virus may be his trigger??
    So now I don’t know what to think? But I just wanted to say that reading your article really hit home.. Co sleeping has helped me relax and get some sleep myself.. I know he’s right there and I can hear him.. But as for a diagnosis.. We don’t have one yet.. Just guess work from the drs who themselves seem a bit baffled! She said that this is probably something he will grow out of.. Structurly his brain is fine so the gasp
    Reflex part needs to mature.. So that’s what I’m hoping will happen.. It’s just so so scary and you’re living in constant fear 😦

  30. SarA says:

    My baby was born at 29 weeks and had horrible apnea of prematurity in the Nicu. Anyways, we came home on oxygen and monitors. 10 days after being home he had a horrible ALTE at home. Recently had a sleepy study and he has severe periodic breathing. I know that co sleeping and my mother intuition has saved his life. He is 3 months adjusted and I am so discouraged. I keep looking things up and keep stumbling across this post!!

  31. R. says:

    I have a question. When you saw the sleep specialist, did they ever talk about Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome (CCHS) ? If so, was your baby genetically tested for PHO2XB gene mutation ? How did they determine your baby had “grown out” of central apnea ?
    I have a 1 year old baby who still has central apnea and has had 3 polysomnographies. She was on caffeine until 10 months old. Her older brother died in 2015 of SIDS but I had noticed he sometimes stopped breathing during his sleep as we co-slept and I would gently stiumulate him but was not worried as I knew babies have irregular breathing patterns. (he died during his nap when no-one was watching).
    Thanks !

  32. Thankyou for your page. I agree. I co slept with my first two babies and I found I always woke a minute or so before they needed a feed or knew I had to get out of bed coz they were going to wake and even knew they needed to get up to go two toliet . I would think it and then see my 2 year old sleep walking to toilet and be there to help at all times of the night. I was ill with depression while raising my third so nan did some nights for me. At 19 mths Chloe died while sleeping in the loungeroom and nan was also there but had dosed off herself I felt something was wrong earlier that morning just that Chloe was sick and called the Doctor and made an afternoon appointment to see nurse and get her due immunisation shots if she was well. I thought to check on her but not to wake her if they sick they need to sleep it off I thought.. I found her blue the third time I went in to checked on her and it was noon. Her appointment only 2 hrs later so was going to wake her for lunch before having to leave. I believe she was already past CPR but of course we tried our hardest. Nan felt guilt she had not sensed anything wrong. She let go herself and passed 18 days later. We could see that one coming as her body just shut down over the days. If Chloe was still sleeping in bed with me I believe I would have sensed her not breathing or my breath would have reminded her to breath. She had sleep apnea the first 2 weeks of her life and they monited her and the brain tests they did said she was all good so I believed it was just from the trauma of the difficult birth. The worst thing about it being named as SIDS is people judge me that it was my fault I was a bad parent .I am happy for Chloe as it was a peaceful death, you could see it on her face, she just slept into death but of course for myself and my family U wish she was still here.

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