Cultures and co-sleeping – My baby is not a product

By | December 18, 2009

I had hurriedly read through Dr. Aletha Olter’s site and recommended it earlier, but now, I think I need to revise my opinion of Aware Parenting and downgrade the status from definitely recommended to take with a pinch of salt. Heck upend the entire salt shaker on it.

Here’s the reason:

Important warning

There have been reported cases of infants smothering while sleeping in their parents’ bed, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission does not recommend sharing a bed with an infant. The danger of overlaying is highest during the first 3 months, and the danger of infants becoming wedged in a crevice is highest between 3 and 7 months. However, there are many reported deaths of infants sleeping alone in cribs. So wherever your infant sleeps, it is important to take safety precautions. If you sleep with your infant, the following bed sharing safety tips should be followed.

Bed Sharing Safety Tips

The following safety tips apply to anyone who shares a bed with an infant (not only the mother).

  • Do not take any drugs that can affect your sleep (alcohol, tranquillizers, antidepressants, illegal drugs, etc.)
  • Never smoke in the room where your infant sleeps.
  • Use a firm mattress. Do not sleep with your infant on a soft mattress, or on a water bed, bean bag chair, or couch.
  • Take precautions so your infant will not fall out of bed.
  • Avoid crevices between your mattress and the wall or headboard.
  • Never place your infant on a pillow.
  • Always lay your infant on its back to sleep.
  • Do not use a feather bed (duvet).
  • Do not place any stuffed animals in the bed (or live ones!).
  • Do not sleep with your infant if you are obese.
  • Tie your hair back if it is very long.
  • Do not let your infant share a bed with another child.
  • Do not place your infant near curtains with dangling strings.
  • Never leave your infant alone in an adult bed.

Huh? What’s that all about? Are we talking about a person or a product? I almost expected a disclaimer “No refunds will be provided if…..” US Comsumer Product Safety Commission now has an opinion on where you put your baby to sleep? And what is their authority on the subject?

Regardless, since I’m not a citizen of US, I’ll leave that battle to someone else, and instead take a look at what seems to be working just fine for us.

We sleep together – this baby and I. We are lucky to live in a culture that supports mother and child closeness in its early life so much, that if someone is to be kicked out of a mother’s bed, its more likely to be the husband than the child. There is no surprise what so ever that Nisarga and I cuddle together every night. And that’s exactly how we like it.

I have always thought that its a rather inconvenient (not to mention emotionally distant) practice to put infants to sleep away from their mothers. I feel its better for the peace of mind of everyone to be in ready access to each other, and I include the father in this. I can’t imagine Raka sleeping peacefully in bed with me with the baby elsewhere. We need that little guy right there as much as he needs to fidget and touch his mother or father if he wakes up. And we have lovely nights. He sleeps late (like us), but once he does, we are all out like a light – straight until morning.

In fact we all sleep so well, that the early recommendation of feeding every two hours was followed really badly by all concerned till we finally gave up on it – all the three of us. I can’t imagine the chaos of a baby coming fully awake from hunger and then getting all wound up with crying by the time I leave my room and go to his and attend him. Now, I just sleepily pull him closer, feed him, and we’re both out.

The recommendations on this list read really alien and grating to the instinct. Where would a baby be, if not in my bed? And if I don’t leave him alone in bed at all, what do I do? Sleep all day, or drag him along? And what is the age when I stop “sterilizing” him from life?

Tie your hair back if its very long? How in the world is it the business of anyone to recommend this as a safety tip? You think I wouldn’t notice if it strangles him or something? More so, that Nisarga wouldn’t notice it? He’s more likely to pull it off my head, which is a good reason to tie it up, but not really a safety thing surely….

The idea that a culture would allow a product related function to make recommendations on how to treat your baby says it all as far as I’m concerned.

It only gets worse when its endorsed by a website titled Aware Parenting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *