Mommy’s Number One Job!
Keep her baby safe. And since this picture is not a sustainable solution in doing so…
What is a good mother to do?
This week’s revised report on SIDS and Sleep Related Deaths has my Email and Voicemail full of questions. What are concerned, engaged and aware parents to do?
As I mentioned in my news interview and previous blog post – AAP Changes Recommendations For SIDS – parents don’t need one more thing to feel guilty about OR worry about.
The intention of this series of blog posts
- Find more facts and data on what the real risks are for YOUR baby.
- Decipher that data and offer statistics that will shed a realistic light on how likely your baby is to die in the crib after 3-6 months of age.
- Ease your mind about your choice to move your baby to his/her own room before your child is a year old.
- Lessen parental guilt if you have already made that transition to a separate room.
In the meantime I want to offer parents some reassurance and some preliminary discoveries I have made over the last few days since this update was announced.
SIDS has dropped significantly since 1983
As your baby’s brain develops the risk of SIDS decreases with each passing month.
As you can see the greatest risk is at 2-3 months of age and decreases to 4% after 6 -months.
As responsible parents and caregivers we must balance the risks versus freedom. If your baby is repelling out of the crib, SIDS is probably not your top concern.
Susan Hines, a pediatric nurse practitioner specializing in sleep medicine at Children’s Hospital Colorado stated:
“I was a little bit surprised. They have known for years that infants sleeping in the same room as their parents but on a separate surface have a lower risk of SIDS, but the one-year recommendation is longer than expected. I feel like the first few months is reasonable. I’m not sure about the first year of life,” said Hines. “Sometimes you can develop bad behaviors by having your child sleep in the same room as you, because they’re aware that you’re there, so when you try to get them in their own room to sleep they have difficulties.”
I help parents overcome the difficulties and anxieties of changing these very behavioral habits that Hines speaks of.
100% of the parents I work with are intelligent, well educated and well informed people.
Parents I work with know how to make the sleep environment safe, even if they are bed sharing. When parents come to me they are not doing anything “wrong” around sleep. They are mostly doing things too right for too long.
Before I create a family’s sleep plan, my questionnaire helps determine the developmental stage of YOUR baby, and from that we formulate a plan that is appropriate for YOUR family. Understanding how all the (apparently conflicting) recommendations apply in each specific circumstance is what sets my tailored sleep plans apart from other “broadcast one-size-fits-all” sources.
As we study the statistics, we see that there are a variety of factors at play in SIDS, and the risks are different for each baby and family environment. My experience is that the conscientious parents who educate themselves in forums like this are not in the high-risk category. You are already doing all the right things for your baby’s safety.
Here’s the deal:
After preliminary research I stand by my statement in my interview. I will continue to recommend room-sharing for babies up to about four – six months, after that, my opinion is that it is overly conservative to roomshare.
After ensuring a safe sleeping environment if you are still concerned about your baby’s safety – then take more safety precautions. If you are still afraid to be separate then I think the fear of being separate from your baby should be addressed for these reasons.
- Room sharing after six months can contribute to interrupted sleep for everyone sharing that room.
- Your baby is attuning to the emotional environment and your fear/anxiety is contagious.
Everyday, everywhere, every parent makes numerous decisions that affect the health and safety of their families. Infant sleep-related deaths is but one threat, and the probability of this risk plummets after 6 months.
I believe that the risk of accidental hazards and unsafe environments inadvertently caused by sleep-deprived parents represent a far greater risk, especially as our junior explorers become ever more mobile and inquisitive.
Like everything in life, there is no black-and-white answer, and everything is a balance between competing risks and benefits. The challenge is to assume the responsibility to find the right formula for YOUR family and circumstances.
I also stand by the following comment in my news interview:
“I don’t think parents need one more thing to feel guilty about,” said Henry. “I think the best thing for a parent to do is trust themselves, to know their child and when in doubt ask their pediatrician.”
When in doubt seek advice from a trusted doctor or health practitioner.