UAB Psychologist: Distracted parenting played role in infant’s death

UAB Psychologist: Distracted parenting played role in infant’s death
Cordarius Cotton

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Distracted parenting is a real thing.

And it’s something that could ultimately cost your child his or her life.

UAB psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow said it could have played a role in a Jefferson County infant’s death over the weekend.

Dr. Josh Klapow
Dr. Josh Klapow (Source: WBRC)

Distracted parenting can carry from using your phone or your tablet or playing video games.

And that’s exactly what one father told investigators he was doing for over an hour, all while forgetting his 5-month-old son was still in the tub with the water running.

“He told us that he simply put the child in the tub, and turned the water on. He got himself immersed in a video game and forgot,” said Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Randy Christian.

Cordarius Cotton, 23, is facing reckless manslaughter charges after admitting to leaving his five-month-old son in the tub for over an hour.

Cordarius Cotton
Cordarius Cotton (Source: WBRC)

“That family is facing a lot of heartache,” said Chief Deputy Christian.

It’s something no parent can imagine doing: forgetting your child and putting them in harm’s way.

But as technology continues to overtake our day to day routines, Dr. Klapow said distractions are inevitable.

“What you can’t do as a parent is say to yourself, ‘I would never forget. I would never be distracted.’ Because that is not humanly possible," Dr. Klapow said.

He calls it distracted parenting, and he believes it’s what happened with Cotton and his son inside this home on Hickory Grove near Tarrant.

Dr. Klapow said when we’re distracted, our brain plays tricks on us, telling us everything is OK.

Chief Deputy Randy Christian
Chief Deputy Randy Christian (Source: WBRC)

“All it takes for our brain to tell us, ‘Everything is good, carry on.’ And then an hour later, we realize we’ve made a mistake,” he said. “In this case, a tragic and deadly mistake.”

So, how can we avoid the consequences of distracted parenting?

“What you have to do as a parent is think about the situation that you are about to go in with your child and ask yourself, ‘If I got distracted, and if I forgot about my child, would my child be in harms way,'” said Dr. Klapow.

And if the answer to that question is yes, then that distraction is not worth it.

Dr. Klapow said infants in water can never be left alone, period. For no amount of time and for no distraction.

If you have to tend to something, take your child with you.

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