back sleeping discussion

back sleeping discussion

An interesting discussion on baby sleeping patterns the other day at Pansy and Peony. (They are linking to a discussion on another blog.)

Pansy’s response:

I never, ever, ever had a baby who slept on their back. Ever. I hate sleeping on my back. I feel like I’m suffocating, hence why I am up at 11PM, 3 AM, 4 AM blogging: because it is hard to lie on your stomach pregnant and sleep.

When my brothers were born in ‘83, ‘85, ‘87, and my son in ‘89, the trend was stomach sleeping. When my daughter was born in ‘93, the trend was side or back, but not stomach. I suppose that is still accurate. If you had the opportunity to take care of babies consistently for like 20 years, you will notice trends start out, get refuted as “bad mothering”, and come back into the mainstream. I am not so stupid that I don’t understand that there is more evidence supporting the “back to sleep” thing as opposed to what Grandma says versus what her granddaughter claims. But I also question if this research looks at parenting a baby as a whole.

I mentioned, I rarely had a child who sleeps on their back. But I also never had a baby who would allow me to put them down for the first year. Naps have always been in my arms. We don’t even own a crib. I had two plus an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper. They became stuffed animal bins. Not one child of mine allowed me to put them in a crib. I started co-sleeping with my first not because I wanted to take a hardline AP political stance, but because I had a colicky child who left me incredibly sleep deprived, and this was the only way to get any kind of sleep. If I do get 20 minutes with a baby napping out of my arms, they wake up when I am not in their vicinty, especially if I am not in the same room. So yes, occasionally, if the planets are aligned correctly, and if no one else in the house breathes too hard, I might be able to put my child down, and if the breezes are especially non-turbulent, maybe on their back.

I am wondering how prone to SIDS a baby is that spends 85% (at least) of their time if not in their mother’s arms, someone’s arms? This as opposed to a child who is in daycare, for example?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

20 minutes every couple of weeks…

I am not militantly anti-back-sleeper or anything. I just think some of these hard fast rules about what good mothers do are very difficult to translate into practical terms. Personally, I think parenting decisions have to make sense. I don’t believe Grandma’s advice is always best becasue that is how they have been doing it for years. Breast over bottle, in my opinion, is more sensical-it is cheaper, less work, and stimulates a bond with the baby. If you have to work, it may not be more practical. Cloth diapering is cheaper, but it may be more work if you have 4 kids in diapers. Car seats always make sense, because first and foremost, the alternative is illegal. Past that, I am not even sure the subject needs to be pursued. If you have a term baby from a healthy pregnancy that is in a non-smoking home, with no history of SIDS that absolutely will not sleep on their backs-what does common sense say? Or more to the point, what are mothers going to do in that situation?

I found her comments interesting because for the first few months at least Bella was one of those babies who would hardly sleep unless she was in our arms. (She’s starting to get much better now and is regularly sleeping 6-8 hours at night and even sometimes napping during the day in her swing.) We never tried to put her down on her stomach; but we did break another SIDS-related no-no, letting her sleep in bed with us.

That began when I mastered the very difficult art of nursing while lying down (which mainly got resolved once Bella was able to latch on properly and reattach herself after pulling off without help from me). Then when I was just too exhausted to sit up anymore, I could doze while she ate. We started getting less interrupted sleep for me and for her by this method. Now I’m generally putting her down between 10 and 12 and when she wakes around 4-7 I feed her in bed and grab a bit more sleep.

I still worry about having her in bed with us, though. 


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  • Hahahahahah!!! That is so totally awesome, Melanie!

    I knew my niece would be a fast learner on appropriate family behaviors. Yay

  • Well, dad did teach her to stick out her tongue when we were still in the hospital. I think Dom even has a picture of it somewhere… I guess it’s a losing battle.