Co-Sleeping Safely With Your Baby
This week many moms across the blogosphere became outraged by a new campaign from the City of Milwaukee Health Department to convince parents that co-sleeping is not safe. Not only is co-sleeping not safe, it is comparable to letting your baby sleep next to a sharp knife, or so they want parents to think. Of course they do not bother to mention that it is riskier to drive your baby around in an automobile than to bring them into bed with you but that wouldn’t be staying true to their actual mission. The intent behind these posters is not public awareness against some real and true threat, it is all about convincing people they need to buy cribs.
Even Dr. Sears agrees:
Who is behind this new national campaign to warn parents not to sleep with their babies? In addition to the USCPSC, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) is co-sponsoring this campaign. The JPMA? An association of crib manufacturers. This is a huge conflict of interest. Actually, this campaign is exactly in the interest of the JPMA.
We have seen these same tactics within the car seat industry for YEARS. Few people actually know studies have proven that past 2 years of age car seats provide no better protection from death in an auto accident than regular old seat belts. But no one makes money when you use the manufacturer seat belt so they skew studies and harp on one stat among many, so that they can get laws passed that require car seats and pad industry pockets. This Milwaukee campaign is no different. They are using a city government to spread their message… “Co-sleeping kills, buy a crib.”
Don’t fall for it and don’t let them get away with it. We need to be vocal about all the ways to make co-sleeping safer and of course be honest that it is not attached, attentive parents who lose a baby to co-sleeping. Rather it is typically inattentive parents who are under the influence of alcohol or other substances and then in their stupor roll over on their infant. When I co-slept with all 3 of my babies I felt even the tiniest flutter and movement, even while I was seemingly asleep. That is our mommy instincts… the ones ingrained in us since the dawn of civilization, when people always slept with their babies!
But just to make sure, here are some tips for making co-sleeping safe.
- Use a firm mattress for the family bed, no lumpy featherbeds or waterbeds.
- Sheets and blankets should tight and fitted.
- Layer clothing rather than blankets if it is cold.
- Remove extra pillows, including decorative ones. No stuffed animals.
- Ideally place an infant between mom and a guard rail, sleeping pad, or wall. Make sure there are no gaps if you use a wall.
- A large body pillow is a low cost way to fill in a gap.
- Place baby on his or her back to sleep.
- Keep your bed low to the ground and place pillows just underneath so that if baby falls they have a soft place to land.
Another alternative is a bedside co-sleeper. Some parents choose to use these when their babies are really small and then when they reach infant and toddler sizes they move them into their own bed. Do what is best for your family and situation and don’t let fear mongers sway you away from the joys of co-sleeping with your little ones.