18 November 2011

Co-Sleeping a Bad Idea?

Milwaukee Co-Sleeping Ad

“I don’t like this at all,” I said to myself when I saw this campaign ad of Milwaukee at Yahoo yesterday.  A knife?!  I felt like I was regarded as a murderer… a grave threat to my daughter’s life.

Ever since Julia was born, she sleeps in a crib beside our bed.  We were blessed to have friends who lent us their son’s Co-Sleeper – Arm’s Reach Bassinet, which Julia used when she was 0-4 months old.  We transferred her to a bigger crib when she learned to turn on her own.  As soon as she could sit, we removed the crib and improvised the playpen by putting a firm Uratex foam.   At 7 months old until now, Julia would sleep through the night in her playpen-turned-crib and she would share our bed after she drinks her milk at anytime between 330am to 530am.

Of course, Don and I discussed the potential risks of unsafe co-sleeping.  We also considered the problems that we may encounter as she grows up.  Co-sleeping doesn’t promote independence and it may significantly delay her learning to sleep on her own. 

However, at this point, considering that Don and I work 6 days a week and are out of the house for 12-15 hours a day, co-sleeping was a way to make up for lost time, build our intimacy with her and more importantly, strengthen our bond as a family.

Going back to the ad campaign, I got curious and started to Google about it.  The increase in infant mortality rate triggered Milwaukee’s city health department to conceptualize and launch the provocative ad.  Based on the 2010 Fetal Infant Mortality Review Report of Milwaukee, 19% of the infant deaths were due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), overlay or accidental suffocation. 

Here’s a summary of guidelines I read to provide a safe sleeping environment for our baby:

  • Make your bed safe for your baby.
    • Use a Queen or King size flat, firm and smooth mattress.
    • Do not use waterbed, sofa, beanbag or any flexible and yielding structure.
    • Make sure that there is no space between the mattress and headboard or the mattress and the wall, if placed against it.
    • Do not use too may pillows and heavy blankets.
    • Do not let your pets sleep on the same bed as your baby.
  • If your baby sleeps in a crib, make sure it is placed directly beside your bed.
  • Do not wear night clothes with strings, long ribbons, beads, etc.  Do not use strong perfume or lotion too as these may irritate the tiny nasal passages of the baby.
  • Do not share the bed with your baby if you are:
    • Sleep deprived due to exhaustion
    • Under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
    • Under medication that can affect sleeping patterns.
    • Extremely Obese
Indeed, irresponsible execution of co-sleeping can cause the untimely death of an infant.  However, co-sleeping, when done properly and safely, can strengthen the emotional and spiritual connection between you and your baby.  

For Don and I, the best part is waking beside a smiling baby every day. 

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