Mother distraught as sleeping five-month-old daughter dies after getting tangled in a blanket

Cleo Ellis-Girling's postmortem concluded that she died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as cot death, and that her mother was not to blame for her death

                            Mother distraught as sleeping five-month-old daughter dies after getting tangled in a blanket

On April 16, five-month-old Cleo Ellis-Girling died after rolling onto her front in her Moses basket and becoming tangled in a blanket. Paramedics managed to restore her heartbeat after she was taken to the hospital by air ambulance from her home in Troon near Camborne, England but she never regained consciousness.

Her grieving mother was told that she was not to blame for the death of her baby as senior coroner Dr Emma Carlyon concluded she died of natural causes.

Cleo Hammill-Girling (Sadie Girling/ Facebook)
Cleo Hammill-Girling (Sadie Girling/ Facebook)

A 19-year-old Sadie Hammill-Girling, the mother of the baby, said she had been advised by health visitors and midwives to swaddle Cleo if she struggled to sleep. However, the coroner was told Cleo had wriggled free of the blanket before dying of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – also known as cot death.

The inquest at Truro County Hall heard that Sadie, a bar worker, had been downstairs at about midday when she heard her pet dog barking upstairs. She told the hearing: "I left Cleo for 30 minutes when I heard the Jack Russell barking. She was no longer on her back."

"She was now on her front with a blanket tangled around her. She had gone limp and wouldn’t wake up."


The inquest heard how Cleo was taken to Royal Cornwall Hospital where doctors liaised with the Paediatric Intensive Care Team in Bristol. The advice from medics was that survival was unlikely without severe brain damage and the difficult decision was made to halt treatment.

During the investigation, pediatrician, professor Peter Fleming spoke directly to Sadie at the inquest and told her she was not at fault. He reportedly said: "Cleo did not die because of something you did or didn’t do. She died despite the fact you were doing the right things and I’m as sure as I can be that she didn’t suffer."

Sadie told the inquest: "She was swaddled because the health visitor and midwives advised me to swaddle her if she didn’t sleep properly. All mothers that I know have done it."

"She wouldn’t sleep if she wasn’t swaddled, she would just cry. She was a really happy baby, she made everyone laugh and smile. I don’t really know what else to say – I enjoyed all the time I had with her. It’s such a horrible loss and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone."

Senior coroner Dr Emma Carlyon recorded the cause of death as unascertained after a post-mortem with a note describing the death as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.