NEWARK, NJActing Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino announced on Oct. 4 that the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office is urging parents to take proper precautions to protect children in the wake of three baby deaths over a 40-hour period in the week prior to his announcement.

The first precaution is for parents to avoid sleeping with very young children and to make sure they have cribs or bassinets.

“In a 40-hour period there were three baby deaths in Essex County,” said Laurino. “We are awaiting final autopsy results in each case to determine the cause and manner of death but given what we know right now we are urging parents to take simple steps to protect their children.”

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According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the following basic steps can make a big difference:

  • Make sure the baby is sleeping on his or her back and sleeping alone.
  • Keep blankets, stuffed animals and other items away from the sleeping area.
  • Make sure the baby is on a firm surface.
  • Bring the baby into your bedroom, but not into your bed.

“Babies who sleep in the bed with the parents are at increased risk for SIDs and SUDs, suffocation or strangulations,” said Laurino, noting three incidents that do not appear to be criminal but are very troubling. “Parents or siblings may accidentally roll over on the baby.”

On Monday, Sept. 26, a 26-day-old baby died in Belleville. At this time, the death appears to be a medical incident.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, an 11-day-old baby died in East Orange. In the East Orange case, the parents reported that the baby was in the bed with them.

According to the prosecutor’s office, both parents fell asleep and when they woke up, the baby was unresponsive. The baby boy was rushed to University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. There are two other children in the family.

The third case also occurred on Saturday, Sept. 23. In this case, Newark Police responded to a 911 call for an unresponsive female infant. The mother was actively performing CPR when they arrived and the baby was ultimately pronounced at Newark Beth Israel.

The preliminary investigation indicates the mother put the baby on a futon after feeding the child. When she woke up, the baby was on the futon with an older sibling, a two-year-old daughter. It’s unclear at this time when the two-year-old climbed onto the futon.

Final autopsy results, particularly toxicology results, have not been completed. The preliminary autopsies indicate these children were not the victims of trauma.

“While the investigations in all three cases remain open, we felt it was important to remind parents of the dangers of sleeping with infants or keeping infants on sofas surfaces,” said Laurino. “We further wanted to remind parents that there are resources in the community to obtain cribs and bassinets which are designed for young infants.”