Hillsborough sheriff warns of co-sleeping dangers after two baby deaths

The Hillsborough County sheriff wants parents and guardians to know of the dangers of co-sleeping after two children died last month.

In 2018, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, eight children died from co-sleeping and seven more suffocated from "unsafe sleeping environments." Monday, Sheriff Chad Chronister issued a public safety announcement on co-sleeping, or sleeping in the same bed as a baby.

"Parents, I know you're tired, and it's easier to let your baby sleep next to you in bed or on a couch, but it's extremely dangerous. Not only can you roll over on your child, but your baby can also get trapped between the mattress and the wall or suffocate from blankets, pillows and stuffed animals," Chronister said.

He said the safest place for a baby is in their own crib or bassinet. Tampa General Hospital Child Safety Coordinator Paula Pizzaro agrees, pointing out a baby's anatomy is still developing, making a safe sleeping position critical.

"Children have very short tracheas," said Pizarro. "Anything that leans their head forward will cut off their tracheas."

Pizarro insists that parents put babies to sleep on their backs in otherwise empty cribs. She also warns against letting them fall asleep on your chest.

"It doesn't matter your race, your religion, your socioeconomic, it can happen to any woman," said Pizarro.

The American Adademy of Pediatrics recommends babies be placed on their backs to sleep, in their own bed.

WATCH: Chronister's full video can be viewed below: