Childrearing

I Co-Slept With All of My Kids From Birth And Didn’t Kill Any Of Them

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Dangers Of Co-SleepingYesterday Maria Guido posted a new study about co-sleeping and how doctors are now saying how dangerous it is. As a mom who slept with all of her babies from the day they came home from the hospital until they were close to two-years-old (and beyond, because my nine-year-old still gets into bed with us), I should probably be thanking my lucky stars that I didn’t kill any of them. The article stated:

Of the 8,207 deaths in National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths Case Reporting System – 70% of those were infants who were bed-sharing at the time of their death.

I can relate to a lot of comments posted on Maria’s article. With my first kid, I co-slept because that was the only way to get him to sleep. I was breastfeeding, and exhausted, and co-sleeping came about my own sheer laziness. I wasn’t about to wake up at two in the morning and trudge down the hall and get my kid from his nursery, change him, nurse him, and get him back to bed. For me it was just easier to lift my sleep shirt and have him nurse back to sleep. The other kids we slept with because it worked out so well with the first one that it just seemed easier. And cozier.

Maybe I was lucky, but I also think I unintentionally had the ideal set-up for co-sleeping. A firm, king-sized mattress so my kids just slept between us, swaddled in their own blankie. No super-fluffy pillows that could potentially suffocate them. And we usually sleep with a thinnish quilt, and I can remember that we were always super careful not to pull it up close to the babies. I also never really drank and didn’t take drugs, and add to that the fact I am a horribly light sleeper, a baby cooing in bed can wake me up. So the situation wasn’t ideal for my husband and I to have cozy, intimate, snuggle sleep, because we basically had babies between us with space on either side. But it was amazingly cozy in the sense we all slept very well, diaper changes were handled by my husband, I nursed the babies back to sleep, and he felt he bonded with them more because he was gone so often during the day that nighttime was when he could be with them, even if it was just for sleeping. I’m sure lots of parents who sadly had babies die during co-sleeping had the same set-up as we did, so maybe it was just sheer luck that my kids turned out fine.

And that’s the other issue I take with studies like these, because no one knows. Not only was the study not ideal, Maria states that there was no control group, and she also didn’t state whether alcohol or drugs or preexisting conditions played a part in the deaths. And what upsets me most about this is there are parents out there who co-slept who had an infant die and in so many of these cases it’s impossible to know if the infant died because of the co-sleeping, or because sometimes, horribly, babies just die. And it could have happened in a crib with no bumper or it could have happened next to mom in the family bed.

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