And other things I learned the hard way.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What's the trouble with SIDS today?

As a new parent, I'll be honest, SIDS scares the shit out of me.

Don't put the baby on their stomach or side. Don't use blankets or soft materials for sleeping. Don't give the baby a bottle or toys in their crib. Don't use crib bumpers. Don't let them sleep without a pacifier. Wow...that's a lot of rules. I just have one question:

How the hell did any of us survive pre-1990??

My husband and I were both put on our stomachs and put to bed with bottles and blankets and I'm pretty sure a tinker toy or stands to reason that we shouldn't have survived. How did parents manage without all these books, websites, tv show and contracts (yeah, I had to sign a CONTRACT at the hospital saying I would only put my baby on her back to sleep) telling them they were doin' it wrong?

Apparently when we were born (circa 1981) it was advised that the parents put us on our stomachs for the best sleep. Several years later the side was the preferred location for the baby. Now we are to the back. AND they are supposed to be swaddled.

This causes a problem for us for a few reasons: a.) my baby hates sleep flat on her back and b.) she HATES being swaddled. No matter how tight of a burrito you make her she kicks her feet and arms free so that only her waist in wrapped. But, being the dutiful parents we are, the first night home we opened our "Halo Swaddle Blanket" and got confused, because there were no instructions (Sidenote - What the hell is it with baby gear not having goddamn instructions? Our travel system didn't even have instructions in English. There were just mono-chromed pictures and one word like "Snap!". I'm guessing for all the illiterate Spanish speaking people that would put together the stroller...) Only a little diagram of a smiling baby looking ever so pleasant in her Halo Swaddle Blanket. How hard could this be?

So me and my aforementioned college degree velcros my bundle of joy into this thing...and all hell breaks loose.

She's kicking. She's screaming. She in fact looks NOTHING like the angelic miracle in the pictured diagram. She's red in the face and her chin is quivering she's screaming so hard. Okay, did I put it on wrong? I unwrap and try again. Same result.

Shit. It's my baby's first night home and I'm already shaping up to break my contract of putting her in this...sack...thing. But as soon as I unwrap and unvelcro her she stops her wailing. And it DOESN'T take a college degree to figure out that she doesn't like it.

Okay fine, we'll just swaddle her regular and stick her in the crib. So we do..and...she rolls onto her side. Two rules broken. No side sleeping.

No it three rules? Does the swaddle blanket count? Crap. Okay. Three rules.

Alright, so we should just stick the binky in and she'll sleep. Except...she won't take the binky. Her mouth is slammed shut tighter than a drum. *sigh* Four rules. One night and we've already broken four rules and failed our end of the contract. Does that mean the parenting police are going to show up and arrest me? Take away my right to hold bottles? Probably not.

But it raises some interesting questions. Do these SIDS precautions apply to all babies no matter what? Because they aren't working for mine. I'm pretty sure if I let my baby have her way she'd sleep naked on her side in the basket of dirty laundry.

Here's the opinion I finally developed. SIDS warnings are designed to scare you into being better parents. Or not being a complete dumbass. You could probably achieve the same with a warning that goes something like "Treat and dress baby as you would enjoy".

For example, one of rules about SIDS is what temperature it best for baby. And no, it's not to keep them fresh the longest. But rather what temp they are most comfortable at. This should really be a no-brainer. The info I've read said that it shouldn't be under 65 degrees. Well no SHIT Sherlock! Hell even I'd be cold at that temperature.

So here it is, my baby has been home almost three weeks. Do we put her on her back to sleep? Do we swaddle her? Do we keep her crib clear of debris? Nope, nope annnd nope. It just doesn't work that way for us. My baby sleeps in our bed propped up on her boppy. Or sometimes in her crib with her boppy around her feet and waist so she feels held. The mattress of the bassinet is lined with blankets and a t-shirt of my husbands. And we let her sleep with her spit rag. And guess what? She's still alive. And for the most part, sleeping like a baby. It was only on the nights that we were Nazis about her sleep did it result in multi-hour screaming fits and tantrums.

In end, we learned that yeah, rules are good for when you don't know your ass from your elbow. And for most parents, they probably work just fine. But sometimes, well, rules are made to be broken.

Just don't tell the baby police.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, so not being a parent, I can't say for certain, but having an understanding of medical systems, I can say that I have a theory regarding all these "rules" for avoiding SIDS:

    Medical companies/insurance providers/hospitals/doctors don't want you to sue them if your baby dies and they didn't warn you of something. Plain fact of the matter is that we don't really know what causes SIDS; that's what the "Sudden" in SIDS is all about. Sometimes babies just ... die. It's tragic and heartbreaking and should never happen to anybody, but sometimes it just does. Just because something was THOUGHT to have caused an infant's death doesn't mean it's an automatic death sentence or that every baby should follow the same pattern. It's horrible, but I believe that a lot of these "rules" about SIDS stem from the fact that no one wants to take the blame when a poor, innocent little angel passes away.

    Moral of the story - do what works for you and Charlotte and I'm sure she'll be fine.