The state I live in is pushing for safe sleep legislation, placing the responsibility of informing parents on the hospital. I'm all for that, if you recall this post I wrote about a slightly different topic.
Some of the info provided to prevent SIDS (crib sleeping) was spot on.
- don't use bumpers
- don't leave soft stuffed animals & pillows in the crib
- no blankets for newborns & infants
- place baby on their back
Here's the problem - when the media reports on safe sleep they leave out some crucial facts about crib sleeping, co-sleeping, and bed sharing.
There is a higher incidence of SIDS in smoking homes. That means smoking occurs inside the home instead of say the deck. If someone happens to be a smoker in your household one of two decisions need to be made - quit or smoke outside.
Formula fed babies are more likely to suffer from SIDS. Their little tummies get overfilled with calories putting them in deep sleep. Sounds great, right? Because you'll be able to get some solid shut eye. Think again. You know how you feel after eating turkey? That's similar to formula fed babies. Because they are knocked out from the formula they are less likely to rouse (and then cry) if they experience discomfort or happen to roll onto their bellies which could suffocate them. On the same note, breastfed babies wake more often. Breast milk fills little ones, but not in such a heavy way as formula. This allows them to rouse easier if they should sense distress like rolling onto tummy.
Co-sleeping is the AAP preferred method of infant sleep. What that means is that baby sleeps in the same room as parents in a crib, bassinet, etc. This makes it easier to respond to those middle of the night feedings. And for many parents it works well for their families. It worked wonders for us for the first four months!
More families bed share than reported. Bed sharing is when baby sleeps in the same bed as parents. This works well for many families because everyone gets the most and best sleep possible. This is where we're at right now and if we didn't I would be one cranky momma & wife.
There is such a thing as safe bed sharing. This is where scare tactics come in. Hospital staff, media, etc like to scare parents into believing that they are going to roll on top of their baby and smother them. Let's be honest. This can happen. If you go to bed with your baby drunk or high. Or on prescription meds that absolutely knock you on your butt.
But like I said, bed sharing can be done safely. If you've ever had a pet and that pet has shared your bed then you know how aware you are that something (or someone) else is in your bed. You are a careful sleeper. Same is true when your baby sleeps in your bed. You may be sleeping but you are aware that s/he is there every time you roll over or move.
With bed sharing space is key. It is highly recommended to move your mattress onto the floor and for that mattress to be king sized. This prohibits baby from falling off of the bed & getting seriously injured. Not everyone has the space for a king sized bed, though, & improvise. Some parents use their queen and place the crib mattress next to it so that there's space for everyone. Some parents use their queen and scoot the crib (with the front face off) up against the bed to create a sidecar. Pinterest has some ideas if you are interested.
And, you could sleep with the baby right on top of you. The baby sleeps on their tummy with their little head turned to the side & you sleep in a mummy like pose holding the baby. If you do choose this options, make sure there are pillows or something propped around you to support your arms making it more comfortable to sleep this way.
Speaking of which, the reason why there is such a push to put babies to sleep on their back is because of the increased use of formula the past 50 odd years. Babies need time on their bellies and are pretty comfy sleeping on them. However, speak to your pediatrician first. Ours recommended tummy sleep during nap time because we would be awake & alert to make sure breathing stay unobstructed. Tummy sleep is important for core development & preventing the dreaded flay spot on the back of the head.
Lastly, bed sharing is accepted and not discouraged in many cultures. American culture just doesn't happen to be one of them. There are a few social theories out there as to why. Whether or not bed sharing is yet to be socially acceptable in the U.S. it is important that you make a decision for your family based on all of the available information.