Friday, January 21, 2011

Cosleeping Safety

When I reread yesterday's post I realized that I didn't address any of the safety concerns of cosleeping, and there are many. So I'd like to take Bug's second naptime (I think he's still pretty sick. It's unheard of for him to go down for nap #2 this early) today to address them.

First off, while many countries and cultures cosleep without any problem, here in the US there are a lot of factors that can contribute infant death. I realize that sounds harsh, but it's true. We are a culture that goes to bed on soft, fluffy mattresses with lots of blankets and pillows.

And you can't do that when you are sharing a bed with an infant.

So, the first night I brought Bug into our bed, I did the following:

1. I covered myself up, but did not put any non-baby blankets on him.
2. I removed all pillows from the bed.
3. Since it was just the two of us that first night, I made sure to keep plenty of clear space around him, and I kept him on his back.

Now that Bug is older, I will sleep with a pillow under my head. He's big enough now that if something were to obstruct his breathing, he could push it away. But I still keep him in a sleepsack and do not cover him with any of my quilts or covers.

Another big safety concern for cosleeping is the possibility that one parent will roll over on top of the baby. And this is a concern. For me, I wasn't really too worried about it because I am one of those people who stays in the same exact position while sleeping. I don't really toss, turn, or move around in my sleep--unlike my husband. Interestingly enough, once we started letting the baby sleep with us, Jon stopped moving around so much in his sleep--but for safety reasons, Bug still remained close to me.

Now that Bug is almost a year old, I am a little more relaxed about things. But when Bug joins us in bed, I keep a hand on him at all times. If he moves out of my grasp, I will immediately wake up. And now that he's doing more crawling, sitting, and (gulp) standing, I am ever-vigilant about keeping him in the bed.

There are a few ABSOLUTELY NOTS when it comes to sharing your bed with an infant, and I want to put these out there:

1. DO NOT EVER, EVER SHARE YOUR BED WITH YOUR CHILD IF YOU ARE DRUNK. I cannot stress that enough. I won't even take nighttime cold medicine because I know that it makes me sleep deeper and I don't want to risk any harm coming to my boy. If you are in doubts of your faculties at all, but you don't want to put the baby to sleep in another room, haul a pack n play into your room and let the baby sleep there.

2. Do not let your child sleep facedown on a fluffy mattress.

3. Alert your partner if you leave the bed. This is a big thing for us because I tend to have to wake up and pee during the night (I have an overactive bladder). I will poke Jon awake and make sure he has a hand on the baby before I go urinate. This annoyed Jon until one night when Bug decided he was going to use the circumstance of my absence to try and launch himself off of the bed. After that, Jon agreed it was of the utmost importance that he be notified if I left the bed.

4. Do not use adult coverings on your baby/let your baby overheat. I check Bug's body temperature frequently to make sure this doesn't happen.

There are a lot of great sleep-sharing resources out there, and I am a huge believer in keeping your baby with you. Babies that sleep near their mothers--whether it be in the same bed or in the same room--not only sleep better, but they are far less likely to die in their sleep. And for that reason, I believe a little disruption in the sleep schedule is totally worth it.

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