A TERRIFIED mother saved her daughter with seconds to spare when she almost strangled to death on a cot bumper.
Debbie MacDonald woke to shrieks coming from her one-year-old daughter’s bedroom and rushed over to find her trapped and choking.
The 39-year-old mother from Dunfermline, Fife, says that she opened the door to see her daughter’s “wee purple face” and “huge terrified eyes” staring back at her.
Thankfully, she managed to pull daughter Lexxi free, but now the mum-of-three wants to warn other parents about the potentially fatal consequences of using the barrier device.
She said: “I woke up very early one Sunday morning to the sound of my baby chatting to her teddies in her cot.
“She does this a lot and then just puts herself back to sleep so I happily dozed off again. A while later she shrieked really loudly, waking me up again. It was the sound she always makes when she is frustrated, trying to do something she can’t or reach a toy that is too far away.
“I can’t tell you how grateful I am that she is a stubborn wee madam who lets everyone know when she is annoyed because if she hadn’t let out that massive frustrated cry, I wouldn’t have woken up.
“I wouldn’t have known that she had somehow stood up behind her cot bumper and got her head stuck between the bumper and the cot.
“I could hear a horrible gurgling noise coming from her room – I thought she was being sick so I went to check on her.
“She must have either sat down or fallen, strangling herself on the bumper. She was very quietly choking in her cot, and if she hadn’t previously shouted out I wouldn’t have woken up.
“I don’t need to tell you how terrified I was when I opened her door and saw her wee purple face and huge terrified eyes. I was panicking – it was only seconds but it felt like hours.
“I shouted on my husband and we pulled on the bumper to get her free. It was horrendous, it could have been fatal.
“She didn’t even cry afterwards, she just had a tear in her eye. She usually doesn’t sit still but I cuddled her for an hour afterwards – she was in shock.
“I am just thankful every day that we didn’t lose her and I woke up just in time to save her.I feel truly blessed that that she is perfectly fine – her angels were looking down on her that day, that’s for sure.”
After the ordeal, Debbie began to feel guilty for not realising the dangers and realised that many other parents might be in the same boat.
She added: “As a mum of three I’ve been using a cot bumper for ages and I never thought it posed a danger. I feel stupid that I didn’t understand the warnings and thought I knew best.
“I just don’t think the warnings are strong enough. I never ever imagined Lexxi could go up behind it and strangle herself, it never crossed my mind.
“I thought to myself, how many other mums didn’t have this cross their minds?
“A lot of mums who have heard what happened have now taken down their cot bumper – I’m so pleased.
“So many people have said that they didn’t realise this could happen and have been really supportive. I do feel like I did something wrong but people told me to be kind to myself.”
Debbie has now taken the cot bumper down for good and hopes that sharing her story might make other parents more careful about using them.
“I was so close to losing my baby that day,” she said. “When I went in and was faced with that, I was really frightened.
“Some things can be hugely dangerous in ways you never think. It’s horrific that you can have a perfectly healthy baby and another minute or so and it would have been too late.”
Bumpers are fabric linings fitted to the edge of cots to stop babies from banging their heads or getting their limbs caught in the bars.
They are often attached to the bars using Velcro or are tied to them.
In 2013, a grieving family launched a petition to have bumpers banned in Britain after their baby son Preston was found dead with the ties around his neck.
Cuchulain Brian, who was 23 at the time, found his son dead and believes the bumper that they bought on eBay is to blame.
Their petition reached over 10,000 signatures, but no action has been taken.
Cot bumpers have been banned in Chicago and Maryland, in the US, after they were linked to the deaths of 27 children across the US over a 20-year period up until 2005.
There is no official advice in Britain against using him.