Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Co-Sleeping Crisis? Or Co-Sleeping Ignorance?

I just came across this article on Baby Centre, and it angered me. I realize that they're just trying to facilitate discussion, but it's these kind of biased articles that do more damage than good.

I've written about co-sleeping before. It's very clear that there are many benefits, and I won't re-list them here. You can read the old post!

What's so interesting to me about this story are the two cases of infant deaths that have occurred due to co-sleeping, and the Milwaukee Mayor's response to the deaths.

Both deaths occurred (from what I can glean from news facts!) due to unsafe co-sleeping conditions. The first being an older sibling who rolled on top of the baby, and the second being a mother who had too much alcohol in her system.

Right off the bat, my "safety" alarm bells ring! These were both unsafe co-sleeping environments, and it is devastating that two infants died because of this. But it doesn't mean that "if you love your baby, do not sleep with your baby." I love my child, and I still sleep with her.

The fact is, co-sleeping (or bed sharing) is SAFE, if DONE PROPERLY!

1) The only person who is perfectly in tune with baby is its mother. A mother is biologically designed NOT to roll on top of her baby. She is hyper-aware of their presence in the bed, and usually will wake to the first little noise or snuffle. Therefore, a newborn should never, ever be sleeping next to dad or any other sibling (or pets!!). The baby should be in between mom and either a wall, or a safe mesh railing.

2) The mattress should be nice and firm, with a fitted sheet. Mothers should avoid heavy blankets and too many pillows. Baby should be lying away from any pillows or blankets

3) Never, under any circumstances, should you co-sleep if you have been drinking (or taking drugs), or if either you or your partner smoke. Your mama spidey-senses will not be as alert.

[There are many more safety tips you can read in this book.]

The media campaign that the City of Milwaukee has put out is both terrifying and disgusting:

Seriously?? Come on, people. Do yourself a favour, and become educated in your choices! Don't allow sensationalized ads like these ones influence your parenting decisions.

According to our society, there are dangers lurking around every corner. We seem to feed off the scary, the dreadful, and the rare (but devastating) things that can happen to our children. In the end, we live in a constant state of anxiety, never allowing ourselves to do what's right for US.

And the bigger picture here is not a baby sleeping with a knife. It's a baby safely tucked in next to its mother, breastfeeding happily throughout the night.

Co-sleeping crisis? I think not! It's a crisis of the City of Milwaukee not providing parents with much-needed information about co-sleeping safety.


  1. Agreed!!! Brennan still sleeps with us. I sleep better with him there and he likes to hold hands :). He will sleep in his big boy bed but he'd rather sleep with us, for naps too. I saw that ad and thought it was insane.

    1. Aylen still comes into our room every night, around 1am. I've gotten so used to it, I sometimes barely remember lifting her up into bed :) If we get squished, one of us will go sleep in the other bed. It's working really well for now! (and yes, love those middle of the night cuddles)

  2. I come across this stuff again and again over the years. I have to say to even SEE a poster mentioning co-sleeping ( even if outrageously sensational) tells me more people are doing it now. 20 years ago if a mom mentioned this in a parenting group setting ( except perhaps a La Leche League meeting!) she was setting herself up for a call from the children's aid society. We all learned who to tell and who never to mention it in front of.
    It is slowly permeating down that co-sleeping has been going on since Gronk and his cavewoman procreated, and humans not only survived but thrived in this arrangement.
    It sure seems like an up hill battle though when moms ask tentatively about it with " I know it's a bad idea and they will never get out of my bed but..."

    1. Yes, there seems to be some belief out there that children never grow up, and will never sleep in their own bed :)

  3. My almost 20 year old hasn't slept with me in years. And she spent most nights of the first few years of her life snuggled up in bed with me. :) That story usually quells the old "they'll never learn to sleep on their own" argument! Co-sleeping is not for everyone, or for every baby (neither of my sons liked co-sleeping even as little wee babies). The best advice? Do what feels right for your family.

    1. You're right, it's not for everyone (or for every baby!) I think when it's necessary, because your child is fussy or a light sleeper (or maybe just because you like it!), that parents need to be informed about the proper way to share a bed.


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