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Posts Tagged ‘Babies

Sleep positioners were originally designed after the Safe Sleep community began urging parents to place infants on their backs in order to decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  Sleep positioners come in a variety of different designs but their design purpose is to keep an infant on his or her back.

Unfortunately, the unintended consequence of this product was to introduce yet another soft device into an infant’s sleep environment increasing the risk of suffocation.

Safe Sleep experts have long held that sleep positioners only increase the possibility of an infant dying due to either SIDS or accidental suffocation caused by the soft product.

To reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths, including accidental suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep on their backs, positioned on a firm, empty surface. This surface should not contain soft objects, toys, pillows, or loose bedding.

Once an infant can freely roll, he should be allowed to adopt whatever sleep position he prefers.

 

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It’s the things that you least expect that hit you the hardest.

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Today I am remembering my own personal guardian angel, my sister Becky.  She died 22 years ago today, when I was 4.  I’m having a particularly tough time this year, and I’m not entirely sure why.  My mother says it’s because I’m only just starting to comprehend this with my adult brain. 

Molly & Becky

Molly & Becky

 

Part of me thinks that is ridiculous.  I remember my sister with vivid detail, and this isn’t something that I woke up with when my frontal lobe was fully formed.  I remember my grandmother holding Becky at my 4th birthday party, and—in my typical 4 year old way—I decided it was time for a musical interlude.  I serenaded Becky with some absolutely preposterous song that had no tune or real story because while I sang, her eyes never left my face and she smiled at me while I did.  Baby sisters make the best audience. 

So it’s not as if I don’t remember my sister or didn’t understand that “dying” meant I would never see her again.  I knew that.  I was angry about it.  I knew it meant my parents were sad.  I knew it made my dad cry, something I had never seen before.  I also knew it was wrong; my baby sister wasn’t supposed to die.  That’s not how things worked. 

But at the same time, there are things I didn’t understand.  The day after she died was Halloween, and my mom said I begged her to take me trick-or-treating.  One of my aunts took me to my preschool Halloween party because I refused to miss it.  I was still 4 and couldn’t miss the chance to dress up.   

Years later, I would get so frustrated with my parents.  Fall is my favorite season, and I take any opportunity to decorate the house, but my mom never wanted to get out the fall/Halloween decorations.  In my narrow teenage mind, I thought it was because my mom doesn’t have any Martha Stewart home décor skills (she doesn’t).  Now I look back and wonder how I could be so completely blind.   

I understood from a child’s perspective, but now I can identify with my parents.  I watch my friends balloon up with their own little bundles of joy and it’s such an incredible (and weird!) process.  One of my friends lets me touch her adorable little baby bump all I want, and I just keep touching it.  How fascinating to grow a human inside of you.  I have no idea how my parents woke up in the morning or kept breathing.  I worry about my future children and my friends’ children too. 

It’s weird to have a child’s grief inside of me as well as an adult’s grief.  I miss my sister for the baby that she was, smiling at my stupid songs, and for what she should have been, my friend and my enemy and my confidant and helping me torture our youngest sister.  As an adult, I’m not sure how I feel about heaven, but I will never shake the thought of heaven as a tea party, covered in pink teacups, balloons, and cakes, completely a 4 year old’s vision of what the perfect world would be. 

 I very rarely dream of Becky, but when I did, she was always a playmate, a fellow child.  Last summer, I dreamed of Becky how she was before she died, a small, warm body with those dark blue eyes.  I was an adult and held her in her old room, rocking her to sleep.  I woke up crying but happy.  It’s weird… this child’s memory mixed with now-grown emotions. 

So while 22 years isn’t a milestone or a particularly special year, I’m having a rough time.  I think as adults we are somewhat dismissive of children’s memories and feelings because they are so fluid.  The stories they tell show us exactly how they remember events, and we giggle more often than not because it’s a very different event than we remember.  Their emotions swing so quickly; one moment they are losing their minds and the next they are playing happily.  But I remember dropping barbies on the ground when we heard the sirens.  I remember seeing my parents cry.  I remember seeing my cousins lined up at the end of my Nana’s bed as she led them in prayer for Becky.  And now, as an adult, I try to just remember my sister.

Last Weekend Together

Last Weekend Together

Exhausted New Mom

Every new mother has a treasured photo like this one. Exhausted from childbirth, sometimes medicated we are given our precious new baby for “rooming in”.  We hold tightly to this little miracle that has just arrived and fall deeply asleep exhausted from our bodies hours of hard work. Unfortunately, it’s a dangerous, sometimes deadly trap.

Since the early 90’s, the world health organizations have been urging parents to practice Safe Sleep techniques with their babies.  Place baby on his or her back, alone in a safe crib.  Yet, in hospitals all over the United States, exhausted, sometimes medicated women are being left with their fragile newborns to care for them in a practice called “rooming in”.

Hospitals want to encourage breastfeeding and bonding between mom and baby.  New Moms want to see, touch and hold their precious babies allowing their brains to absorb that they really created these miracles.  It’s a connundrum.  But, hospitals must take a leadership role in modeling the behavior that we want new mothers to follow when they arrive home just a short 48 hours after birth.

Even proponents of bedsharing warn that babies should never sleep in a bed with a parent that is excessively tired or on medication.  Nor should the adult bed be filled with pillows and other soft bedding.  Hospital beds can be especially dangerous.  They were not designed for infants.  The beds are frequently set up so that mom is reclining rather than laying flat.  They put the side rails up to keep a medicated mother from falling out of bed, but the side rails are not designed for infant safety.  The baby has a hospital bassinet to sleep in but mothers rarely place the babies back into it before they doze off.

Hospital policy should require doctors, nurses, lactation consultants and all hospital healthcare staff to impress upon the new mother and any of her visitors that mom cannot be left alone with the baby in her arms unless she is fully awake and unmedicated.  The new mother cannot be expected to make safe decisions when she is in the haze of new motherhood hormones and after-birth exhaustion.

As a Safe Sleep Educator, I’ve been preaching this message for years.  It starts at the hospital!  Now, unfortunately, the worst has happened and a lawsuit has been filed against the hospital that allowed a post-C-Section mother on heavy pain medications to fall asleep with her baby only to wake up to find that the baby had died due to an accidental overlay.  I am not generally in favor of law suits but perhaps this will make hospitals sit up and take notice.  You cannot be a “Baby Friendly” hospital just by withholding free formula.  You must also look out for the health and safety  of the baby.  That includes taking steps to keep baby safe while mom gets  her well deserved recovery time.

Do you agree?

SIDS has been every new parents nightmare since biblical times.  No more.  Parents now have the tools to keep  their babies safe. The goal to keep baby safe begins when you’re pregnant.

  1. Moms get early prenatal care.  See your doctor often when pregnant.
  2. Create a healthy lifestyle while pregnant.
  3. Don’t smoke while pregnant or let anyone smoke around you and your baby.
  4. Don’t drink or use drugs while pregnant.
  5. Plan to breastfeed as long as possible.

Getting the nursery ready is simplier than ever.  Remember, less is more.  Decorate the baby’s room.  Not the baby’s crib.  All you need is a safe crib, a firm mattress (read hard) and a fitted sheet.  That’s it.  Your crib should be manufactured after June 28, 2011 to ensure that it meets all the latest safety guidelines.  This is a place that you will leave your baby unattended for hours so don’t cut corners here.  Don’t borrow an old crib or buy one at the second hand store.  If you plan to use a portable play yard as your baby’s crib, there are new safety standards that will go into effect December 2012.  Place the crib in your room for the first 6 months of baby’s life.

Unsafe Crib

Unsafe Crib

Bumpers, quilts, pillows and stuffed animals should never be in baby’s crib.  They are all too soft and fluffy for an infant. and they pose a suffocation hazard for your baby.  When your baby is old enough to be put in the toddler bed, you can start allowing soft items.  Recently, the Juvinille Products Safety Commission admitted that it could not show any proof that bumpers keep a baby safe from getting arms or legs stuck in the crib slats nor could they prove that bumpers keep baby safe from head injury.  Unfortunately, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and SIDS researchers can prove that bumpers have been directly responsible for the deaths of some infants.  They may be cute, but the are not worth the risk to your baby.

After baby is born, just a few more simple behaviors for parents:

  1. But baby on his or her back alone in the crib.
  2. Use a pacifier after breastfeeding is firmly established for sleep times.
  3. Do not cover baby’s head with hats or blankets.
  4. Put baby in a wearable sleep sack or feetie jammies rather than using blankets.
  5. Swaddle baby if needed, but only up to 6 weeks…and remember to dress baby lighter since you hold in body heat with the blanket.
  6. Get baby all recommended vacinnations.
  7. Never put baby on an adult surface like a couch or adult bed to sleep.

That’s it! You have all the tools needed to keep your baby safe from both SIDS and other sleep related deaths.  Oh, don’t forget that baby needs good tummy time when awake for proper development.  Enjoy your baby!

For more tips, follow me on Facebook.

 

Dr. Rachel Moon, lead author of the new American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines and Pediatrician at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC discusses the latest information.  Click Safe Sleep Guidelines.

Follow these tips to create a safe sleep environment and help reduce the risk of SIDS for infants.

Reducing the Risk of SIDS poster

Positioning

  • Babies should always sleep on their backs.
  • Place baby on his/her back to sleep at night time and naptime.
  • Babies shouldn’t sleep on their side. They may roll to face down position.

Cribs

  • Every baby should sleep in his/her own crib.
  • Place baby on a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib.
  • Remove all fluffy and loose bedding from the sleep area. The only thing that should be in the crib is the baby.
  • Make sure baby’s head and face stay uncovered during sleep.
  • Use blanket sleepers instead of blankets during colder months.

Room sharing

  • Babies from birth to age 6 months should sleep in the same room with their parents.
  • Babies should not sleep on the same sleep surface with their parents.
  • Bring the baby into your bed for cuddling and feeding, but return the baby to his/her crib when you are ready to go back to sleep.

Other tips

  • Don’t let baby get too warm during sleep. A general rule is that babies need one more layer than you do.
  • Use pacifiers at naptime and bedtime during the first year, but not during the first month for breast-fed babies.
  • Breastfeeding is best!
  • Make sure your baby gets all the recommended vaccinations.
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