Co-sleeping has gained popularity over the years. Cuddling and snuggling…doesn’t that offer the greatest sense of security for your baby? Yes, but not in your bed! A recent study published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrics, confirms that the highest risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in infants three months and younger is bed-sharing. While this doesn’t erase the risk of SIDS from co-sleeping for older infants, it does help moms realize that sleep environment safety is of the utmost importance from day one.
Unfortunately, day one is when bed sharing is the most attractive. Your cuddly newborn longs to be held, snuggled, and fed constantly. And, while napping in bed with your infant may make nursing more convenient…it’s just too risky. Trust me, I know how exhausting nursing a newborn can be! Co-sleeping does let moms get just a little extra shut-eye at night, and in a sleep deprived world, every extra moment of sleep counts! But, moments matter for your infant as well. It only takes a moment for your child to become a victim of SIDS or Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS). That is a moment that you NEVER want to encounter!
Having had a preemie, I know more than many moms about kangaroo care. For nine weeks in the NICU all that I did was Kangaroo my baby (Okay, I did a little more than that according to the breast pump and stock piled freezer and fridge). Even after we made it home, I continued to Kangaroo for months. There is definitely evidence to say that skin to skin and close contact with an infant is imperative for their mental and physical wellbeing-from heart rate and breathing regulation to increased oxygenation and bonding. And, while I’m an advocate for kangaroo care, I’m also an advocate for SIDS and SUIDS prevention. Doing what is safest for an infant is always what is best in the short-term and long-term. While there may be validity to the benefits of co-sleeping/bed-sharing, these benefits don’t out weigh the risk of death from SIDS and SUIDS.
Every mom wants to do what is best for her infant, and creating a special bond between baby and mommy is definitely BEST! Ensuring INFANT SAFETY is also BEST! So…what’s a mom to do? Here are some SAFE ways to bond with your infant (note…co-sleeping/bed-sharing doesn’t make the cut!)
2. Let your infant sleep on your chest…while you are awake. You can do this in bed or in a recliner as long as you are awake and aware of your baby’s position.
3. Incorporate Kangaroo Care (skin to skin contact) into your routine. Strip your baby down to his/her diaper and either take off your shirt or use an open, button-down shirt. Place the baby directly on your chest and then cover over with a blanket. Enjoy the special bond that skin to skin contact can bring. (If you are breast-feeding you may even notice that you have a milk let-down. If you have trouble with let-downs Kangarooing would be great to try before feedings)
4. Carry your baby in an infant carrier such as a Moby or Ergo when you are up and about. This will allow your baby to enjoy your sense of closeness while allowing you to get things done around the house (who am I kidding! REVISION…while it allows you to wash pumping equipment, bottles, and pacifiers that the dog stole)
5. Sing to your baby even if you have a horrible voice! If it is truly horrific…talk to your baby in soothing tones. Your baby was used to hearing your voice before delivery. Hearing you now will bring your baby a sense of security and calm. If you can’t think of what to say, reading a book to your infant is another great way to engage and bond. It’s also great for your child’s language development.
6. Massage your infant. Massage has been found to have a relaxing effect on infants. Its benefits have even made it a part of many NICU’s occupational therapy sessions for preemies. In addition to providing relaxation, infant massage can help with constipation and gas! It also helps prevent the newborn (especially preemies) from being hypersensitive to touch and can even enhance a baby’s immune system.
7. Play with your baby. While this may sound trivial or like a no-brainer, play time with your infant creates an important bond. Letting your infant see you smile, laugh, tease, and tickle will enhance your infant’s sense of security and love. You may even be rewarded with a squeal!
While these are just a few ideas to promote infant and mommy bonding, take the time to find other safe and fun ways to create special connections with your baby. While co-sleeping/bed-sharing may have its benefits, err on the side of caution. The bond that co-sleeping brings isn’t worth the risk of SIDS or SUIDS. Don’t be a mom with regrets!
From The Mom in Me, MD