This is a sponsored post from One2One Network and ICAN. All opinions stated are our own.
As parents we only want the best for our babies. We know that for the first few months of their lives they are delicate little beings and we want to make sure no harm reaches them. We take time to arranged their cribs with soft blankets, bumpers or teddy bears to create a comfortable and loving environment. But what if the place where we thought they are safest turned out to be a hazard?
Last week we were invited to a Safe Sleep for Baby event that left us shocked and grateful to be there so we could pass on the knowledge that was made available to us. Did you know that approximately 70 infants die from suffocation while sleeping every year in Los Angeles county? This represents one infant every five days!
What exactly is causing infants to suffocate while sleeping? The answer is bed-sharing and unsafe sleeping environments such as sleeping on a couch or having pillows, soft or excessive bedding and stuffed toys in a baby’s crib or bassinet.
Below we’ve put together a list of data that was shared with us and that we want to pass on to all our readers. It’s also data that will hopefully answer some questions and highlight the seriousness of this issue:
- Bed-sharing and unsafe sleeping conditions accounted for 62% of all undetermined child deaths in L.A. county in 2011. 38% of those were due to bed-sharing and 24% were due to unsafe sleeping environments like those we mentioned above.
- The majority of bed-sharing and unsafe sleep child deaths were infants between 0-6 months of age.
- For the first three to four months of life babies can only breathe through their nose.
- A baby’s nose doesn’t have cartilage yet, so it can easily flatten and block airflow causing them to suffocate.
Some of this data might seem only logical and common sense, but the facts don’t lie. The truth is that families are still waking up to a tragedies that could have been easily avoided. That’s why we urge you to share and pass on this knowledge. If it can reach the ears of one person who was unaware of the dangers of unsafe sleep we could all be preventing a tragedy.
For more information please visit the Safe Sleep for Baby website and like them on Facebook.
Although I appreciate that people are trying to prevent the tragedy of SIDS, I think it’s worthwhile to point out that in practice, bedsharing is sometimes the best choice for a family. For some mothers and babies, bedsharing is the only way to get some sleep. So rather than ignoring this fact altogether, I feel that it’s useful to talk about the safest way possible to bedshare (ie no smoking, no legal or illegal drugs, no soft surfaces, no pillows or covers, etc.). When bedsharing is planned and done in a conscientious manner, it can allow the mother to get some much-needed rest and can help with breastfeeding, which is in and of itself a factor that will reduce SIDS risk.
Here are some responses to the 2013 Carpenter, et. al. study cited by many who discourage bedsharing:
I’m not saying everyone should bedshare or that no one should. Instead, I just want to acknowledge the reality of this situation and that different families will make different choices based on what is best for them.
For us and for many breastfeeding families bedsharing was a lifesaver. Newborns cluster feed at night and getting up to go to a different room seemed totally absurd to us. Yes, there is a lot that can be done to make a family bed a safe environment (take away pillows, covers, etc) , but one of the many things that bedsharing SIDS deaths don’t break out is that almost 100% are of formula fed babies. There’s a different awareness because of the physical connection, and if you are bottle-feeding then it is certainly safer to not bedshare.
Another co-sleeping baby that survived her infancy (along with my 3 siblings) and that is co-sleeping with a one year old. The issue with co-sleeping is that it needs to be taught or you should fulfill a list of requirements to do it safely. Is not a light choice but is a good choice if you know how to do it. Also in my case I shared a bed with my sister all my life for modern people that has always slept alone is harder to activate the instinct of sharing a bed with another living creature but it can be done, again we need more information about this choice is not as black and white as some studies make you believe,YMMV.
We agree that bonding with your child is important. However, the statistics show that sleeping with your baby is extremely dangerous. In fact, every 5 days in L.A. County, a baby suffocates while sleeping. This often happens when a baby shares a bed with parents. Suffocation not only happens when a parent rolls over a baby, but also when a baby gets stuck against a parent’s arm or chest, or gets wedged between pillows and blankets. Co-sleeping is simply not worth the risk. We advise sharing a room with a baby, but not a bed. Bonding can take place while babies are awake with lots of hugs, kisses and play time.
I’m sorry, but “extremely dangerous”? That is so offensive. Lots of things in life are dangerous, but because they are a normal part of life it’s much more useful to educate people on how to do them safely than to try scare them about doing it at all. Babies suffocate in bed because people are cosleeping unsafely, just like kids die in car accidents because people don’t use car seats properly. According to http://www.ctsafekids.org/carseat_info.htm 4 out of 5 car seats are installed incorrectly, but as it doesn’t make sense to tell people to stay home or walk, we try to make safety checks and installation education easily accessible. Babies have slept with their parents throughout history, and mothers and fathers at the end of their rope in the middle of the night are going to bring babies into bed with them. If they have no information on avoiding pillows, covers, sofas, etc. because of a campaign to ban it outright as the simplest solution, then they’re not going to know how to do it. I absolutely appreciate the need for a safe sleep campaign, but think it would be much more effective to tone down the scare tactics and incorporate safety advise. People who plan to do it, like myself, educate themselves beforehand, but others who are simply desperate for a rest in the middle of the night need to have been exposed to that info at some point so that at 3am they do the right thing and throw the covers and pillows off the bed.
You may want to check your language. Co-sleeping refers to sleeping in close proximity with the child, but not necessarily in the same bed. If you’re speaking of sleeping in the same bed, then bedsharing would be the appropriate term. “Co-sleeping is simply not worth the risk. We advise sharing a room with a baby, but not a bed.” <— The second sentence contradicts the first statement. Just FYI so that you don't confuse people.
I also maintain that while your goal is good, your methods are missing the point. There are many parents who start out thinking they will never bedshare, but once their baby arrives, they find that this is what works for them and their family. I am one of these parents. I was not about to let my child scream and cry for hours (to the point of throwing up) just to force them into a sleeping habit that he was not developmentally ready for at the time. Instead, I was extremely careful in my bedsharing practice. I was in tune with every breath and every stir. This way we both slept and weren't miserable. Besides his misery (if I had let him CIO), I wouldn't have slept at all and would have gotten very depressed. I still had to drive and function during the day, and sleep deprivation can make driving extremely dangerous. My point is, there are lots of dangers but we as parents ultimately have to make the choices that are right for us to keep our families safe. By ignoring this fact, your campaign isolates people. Even if you don't want to advocate bedsharing, at the very least you could provide a resource on safe bedsharing so that that information gets out there too. Ignoring a problem never made it disappear.
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