Erica Hamilton lost her 5-month-old son Carter nearly five years ago.
"You never get over it," said Hamilton. "It's something that never heals..."
Oct. 25th is Carter's birthday. He would have turned five years old. Instead, his mother is reliving his death. Carter suffocated in his crib.
"We had a traditional crib bumper in his crib and he rolled over," said Hamilton. "That caused him to suffocate in the crib bumper. The next morning we woke up and we found him like that."
It's a parent's worst nightmare, and one the American Academy of Pediatrics is working to prevent. Monday the group released new guidelines for parents on how to prevent sudden infant death, including a new call to parents to have their baby sleep in the same room as them-not in the same bed-for up to a year.
Doctors at Greenville Health System, who said Greenville County has seen at least eight sleep-related deaths in infants just this year, agree.
"It's encouraged for up to the first year of life," said Michelle Greco, nurse manager for Child Advocacy at Greenville Health System. "Specifically the first six months, but it is up to the caregivers. If they want to move the infant into its own room after six months, they can do so. But [doctors] encourage that room sharing."
Pediatricians say the risk of dying is cut in half when an infant sleeps in the same room as the parent.
The report also reminds parents to never lay a baby on its stomach - only on its back. Doctors also say parents should never put anything in the crib with the child that could increase the risk of suffocation; like blankets, soft toys, or crib bumpers.
Hamilton said she regrets the day she ever bought a crib bumper.
"I'm the crazy lady at Babies 'R' Us who will go up to people and say 'you don't need to use that crib bumper,'" she said. "It is not worth it to use a bumper."
Hamilton said even though she lost her son five years ago, the pain is still very deep. But she hopes sharing her story might save another child's life.
"Everyday we struggle with missing Carter," said Hamilton. "He's still with us and he is still a part of our family."
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