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Nurse develops sleep pod to keep baby safe in bed

'Sleep Guardian 360' to be available at the end of the year

Erin Cassidente keeps watch over her five kids. Safety is her priority, especially with her newest addition James.

"He's just been the easiest kid. I couldn't ask for an easier, happier little guy," she said.

Like other parents, Cassidente has had to decide where her baby will sleep.  

"Babies are kind of hard wired to be close to their mom at night" she said.  She's chosen to keep James beside her.

But Jennifer Doering, PhD, RN, Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee says sleeping with your children isn't without risk.

"Approximately 4,000 babies die of sleep related infant death every year," she warned.

A recent study shows nearly 74 percent of deaths in babies less than four months old occurred in a bed-sharing situation. Now, Doering and her team are developing an infant sleep pod to keep babies safe.  It's called the "Sleep Guardian 360."

"We have the ability to put people up into space. Keep them safe and warm in a vacuum and bring them back down to earth. Yet we can't keep babies safe next to their parents in bed," Doering explained.

Here's how it works:  "You take the baby and you put it in underneath the bridge. It's one directional so that the parents can't put the baby in the wrong way. The bridge itself will protect the baby's air space and the pod itself will contain the baby so the baby can't escape" Doering said.

If a blanket or pillow falls on the bridge or if the baby is in a dangerous position, an alarm alerts parents. The sleep pod can be used anywhere.  The sofa is the most dangerous place for infants.

"When they are young, their neck muscles are not developed enough to be able to lift their head away from the crack and so they suffocate inside of the couch," Doering said.

The sleep pod is designed for infants up to six months — the most critical period for infant deaths. Jennifer says the pod also allows dads to come back into bed without fear of rolling onto their babies. She hopes to have the pod available for parents by the end of this year. For more information, log onto www.sleepei.com.