Monday, October 10, 2005

Let sleeping babies lie . . .

The American Academy of Pediatrics released recommendations today designed to reduced baby deaths from SIDS. While they acknowledge that babies are safest and happiest when sleeping close to mom, they believe that babies are also safest when sucking on a pacifier and sleeping in a separate bed. "We think if more mothers stopped . . . taking their babies to bed with them and used pacifiers, we'd be doing a heck of a lot to get at this problem," said John Kattwinkel of the panel making this recommendation.

OK. Here's my bias up front and personal. I believe babies sleep best snuggled right up next to mom. That's where my babies slept. Kept them right near their food source (gotta love those breasts--milk warmed up to the proper temperature with no concerns about microwave burns). Kept them from working themselves into a frenzy before I could get to them. Kept them close enough so that I didn't have to get up in a fit of new mommy paranoia and check to see if they were breathing. And gave both of us more sleep and less wandering around the house at night.

There is plenty of research on this topic. Funny how much of it is supported by the crib industry. Also, much of it isn't terribly conclusive, as it doesn't seem to differentiate between babies who died to due drunk or stoned adults sleeping on them or stupid parents who share an unsafe bed with their baby and babies who sleep with thoughtful, sober parents. In a study that does differentiate, sharing a bed with your baby does not increase the likelihood of SIDS.

Most of the world's mothers have for most of time past slept with their babies. Why would this practice suddenly become incredibly dangerous? For heaven's sake. Use common sense, people. If you have a head board with slats spaced about the size of a baby's head, um, maybe your baby shouldn't sleep with you--or you need a new head board. If your husband--or you--sleep the sleep of the dead, perhaps you are not a good choice for sharing a bed with a 7lb baby. If you like a joint or a few glasses of wine before bed, probably sleeping with your baby isn't such a great idea. And if your baby can't even hold up her head yet, putting her to sleep on a big fluffy pillow? Not such a smart idea, eh?

And what's this about putting them to bed with a pacifier? Is this recommendation financed by the Pacifier Coalition or something? Let's see. Babies sleep best sucking on something. Hmm. What are they supposed to be sucking on? Hmmm. How about a thumb? Or Mom? And how can the AAP push breastfeeding so hard, even taking the position of breast is best for a year or more, yet recommend pacifiers, a known nipple confuser for babies?

We want to put so many things between us and our babies. Material goods that somehow add to our status or something, making us better parents because we can provide them for our little munchkins. Babies don't need to be carried everywhere in car seats. They need to be carried in your arms. Babies don't need special swings. They need to be rocked in your lap. Babies don't need bottles. They need your breasts. (Well, not yours, Fred.)

And babies don't need fancy cribs painted with intellect-building black and white designs that cost an arm and a leg. They need you.

Until tomorrow,


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