Connor’s Story: Positional Asphyxia

ConnorConnor was such a sweet, happy, and active little boy who made everyone else smile. He was an awesome big brother and was loved very much. He wanted to be so much like his dad that he had his own Corvette bed. When the bed was purchased, it was placed against a corner in his bedroom in hopes that he would not fall.

Connor did not fall out of his Corvette bed; tragically he suffocated when he squeezed himself between the bed and the wall and was unable to get free. The official cause of death was positional asphyxia.

After it was said and done, even the police were just as confused and had no idea how he managed to get stuck.

“As parents we do everything to protect our babies and that is what we thought we were doing with our son.”

Connor passed on March 1st 2015 at only 2 years old. He will be missed eternally.

This story was shared by Connor’s mother to help drive awareness for child safety and help save other lives as way to honor the loving memory of sweet Connor.

What is Positional Asphyxiation?

Positional asphyxia is also known as postural asphyxia.

It is a form of asphyxia, which occurs when someone’s position prevents them from breathing adequately. In newborns this means the airway is kinked due to baby’s heavy head resting with his chin on his little chest. However, it can also happen in all directions your little one’s head can be turned.

Positional asphyxia happens when a person can’t get enough air to breathe due to the positioning of his/her body. This happens most often in infants, when an infant dies and is found in a position where his/her mouth and nose is blocked, or where his/her chest may be unable to fully expand. It is felt that the positioning of the infant led to a lack of oxygen and a death by asphyxia (suffocation.) Examples include an infant found wedged between a mattress and the wall, an infant sleeping on a couch with an adult who is found with his face pushed against the cushions of the couch.

Positional asphyxia varies from a death from SIDS in a few important ways. A child is said to die of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) if he/she:

  • is less than 1 year of age,
  • died while sleeping and that death remains unexplained after a thorough investigation, including a complete autopsy and review of the circumstances of death and clinical history.
  •  An infant who dies while sleeping in an otherwise safe sleeping environment may still be called a SIDS death even if he/she is found with his mouth/nose in the mattress as long as no other reason for the death can be found.

Why does it happen?

Positional asphyxia occurs when an infant is put to sleep or falls asleep in an unsafe sleeping environment or in an unsafe position. Examples of unsafe sleeping environments can include: Couches, water beds, beanbag chairs, pillows and adult beds to name a few. Unsafe positions include: Sleeping face down, side-sleeping and sleeping infant carrier with head covered, or face against a soft surface.


Prevention of positional asphyxia includes many of the same things that help to prevent SIDS:

  • Infants are safest when sleeping in their own crib or bassinet with a firm mattress that fits well and no extra pillows/quilts/soft toys in the area.
  • Infants should be placed on their back to sleep.
  • To promote breastfeeding, the baby should be in the same room as the mother, but while sleeping should be in his/her own crib/bassinet.
  • If a parent chooses to sleep with their babies, the bed should not have any blankets, comforters or pillows and should not be against a wall or have space where the baby could fall between mattress and a side, head or foot board.
  • Parents who sleep with their babies should not use any substance (alcohol, drugs, sleeping pills, narcotic pain medications) that would make it difficult for them to wake up.

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