- present participle of overlay
Overlaying is the act of smothering a child to death by rolling over them in sleep.
Overlaying was perceived to be one common way of conducting infanticide in Victorian England. Many wet nurses were accused of this, and in many counties the wet nurse would have to provide a crib out of her own money to ensure that she would not sleep with the child.
In researching smothering deaths by black slaves in the American South, which occurred nine times more frequently than in white families, Michael P. Johnson suggests that sudden infant death syndrome was in fact to blame (which, if it happened in white families, would be heavily underreported because of the social stigma attached).