Thursday, October 25, 2012

Trick Question: Can you co-sleep with your baby without co-sleeping? (by Kaitlyn Johnson)

Followers of the “attachment parenting” philosophy aren’t the only proponents of co-sleeping; even studies published by the British Medical Journal, Military Medicine and Lancet have shown that there are marked benefits to co-sleeping with your infant. The “Sleeping Position, Orientation, and Proximity in Bedsharing Infants and Mothers” study published in 1996 indicated that infants sleeping near a parent boast regular heart rhythms, more stable temperatures, and fewer long pauses between breaths than infants who sleep alone. The “SIDS Global Task Force Child Care Study” published findings in 2001 that showed that deaths attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome were at their lowest rates in countries where co-sleeping is a culturally-accepted, normal practice. However, there are a variety of situations that make sharing your bed with an infant infeasible or downright impossible for your family.
So, can you and your baby reap the benefits of co-sleeping without sharing an actual bed? In a word, yes.

How Can You Co-Sleep Without Bed-Sharing?
The practice of co-sleeping without sharing a bed has become much more common now that there are two commonly accepted terms. The first is co-sleeping, which means that parents and infants sleep in close proximity, but on a separate sleep space, in the same room. The second is bed-sharing, which refers to a sleeping arrangement in which parents and children share a sleep surface. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages new parents from sharing a bed with their infant, but has encouraged a co-sleeping arrangement in which the baby does sleep in the parents’ bedroom, just in her own safe, separate space. Groups that promote breastfeeding, like La Leche League, suggest that co-sleeping leads to higher breastfeeding success rates than a separate room arrangement.

Co-Sleeper Products
There are entire lines of co-sleeping products that allow you to keep your baby on the same level as your mattress and within arm’s reach, but maintaining your own sleep surfaces. Researching various makes and models of co-sleepers can help you get a better idea of how well you feel each will suit the needs of your unique family. The Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper attaches to the parents’ bed, providing the benefits of co-sleeping without the risks of bed-sharing.

Portable Cribs
If you’re only planning to practice co-sleeping temporarily, a collapsible, portable crib might be the solution to your problems. Easy to assemble and lightweight, you can move the crib from one room to another as needed with relative ease. There are weight limits specific to each model, so you’ll want to be sure that your baby hasn’t’ outgrown his. Also, it’s important to be sure that each re-assembly is completed according to the manufacturer’s instruction and presents no pinching, choking or other hazards.

Bassinets and Cradles
While a cradle isn’t collapsible like a portable crib, it is lightweight and easy to move from one room to the next as the need arises. It’s not advised that children who are old enough to sit independently sleep in cradles or bassinets, but they can be ideal for parents of newborns who only plan to co-sleep through their child’s early infancy.

One of the benefits of co-sleeping is being able to react immediately to your infant when she stirs, which can make it easier to soothe her back to sleep in a short time, thus cutting down on the sleepless nights that are the bane of new parents everywhere. While fears that co-sleeping children will become overly sensitive and dependent upon their parents as a result of spending their nights in such close proximity are a leading reason for many parents to eschew co-sleeping, attachment parenting guru and father Dr. Sears insists that infants who share a room with their parents become much more independent kids, with lower levels of anxiety, higher self-esteem and higher levels of academic achievement than their peers. He also asserts that psychiatric problems are less prevalent among adult products of a co-sleeping infancy. Because it’s not necessary for families to share a bed in order to provide the children with the safest and most enriching sleep experience possible, it may be wise to consider a co-sleeping arrangement with your own child. Just remember that every infant, just like every pregnancy, is different. The same co-sleeping arrangement that worked for your oldest daughter may be a complete failure with your youngest son. Taking the individual needs and temperament of each infant into account before making the decision to or to not co-sleep is important, as it can mean the difference between a well-rested parent who’s ready to face the challenges of the day, and an exhausted one on the verge of burnout.

(Rachelle's 3 cent:  The point here isn't to tell you what you should do or where your baby should sleep but to do what's right for your family in a safe manner.  I both co-sleep and bedshare depending on the day and how tired I am, lol )

Friday, October 12, 2012

Reflections of a Babywearing Dad by Corey Rodgerson

Today I wanted to close out International Babywearing Week with an awesome post about how babywearing has changed my life.  As I was writing I logged in to Facebook so that I could post it there and I saw this post.  My own post was trashed and I decided this one took the cake.

As we’re getting closer to the end of IBW 2012, I felt like I wanted to post something about Babywearing
in general. For those of you who don’t know me, I was a reluctant babywearer. Our first child had survived three years without needing more than a stroller that my wife for some reason hated. When Ann Marie decided to try babywearing, I was expecting it to last for about two weeks. Long enough for her to forget about it one day, and then have the carrier lay forgotten in a corner like so many baby bottle cleaning apparatuses.

The difference was that she didn’t just find a carrier. She didn’t just find something that helped our needy middle child feel safe and comfortable snuggling with mommy. She didn’t just figure out how to hold a fussy baby and do other productive things. She found a group of supportive, helpful, sympathetic people.

They were the first real “Mommy-Friends” my wife had. They were a group that took her in, unconditionally, and helped my wife down a path that has reaped innumerable rewards. She was able to do things; from playdates, to meetings, to group lunches where they descended upon whatever poor soul was working the counter and forced to clean up after 8 toddlers.

She started talking to me when I came home from work about things she was learning. I heard about things that happened between her and her friends. A steady stream of carriers came and went as she borrowed and tried them. She was only given constructive criticism like: “Try this adjustment,” “Maybe you want something slightly different like this carrier,” “Your child may be more comfortable if you do this”. What I saw was my wife learning the entire time. She wasn’t force fed anything; she was able to find her own way. As a result of this wonderful group of people, my wife is able to do things I don’t even comprehend. Because the group had the smarts to let her work through her problems, my wife will grab a wrap and be able to tie a  Half-Tibetan-full-ruck-Nyarlathotep-ian high-back-carry with a twist of lime.
Our nightly ritual with our second daughter
The BWI group had made my wife enthusiastic. She in turn made me, not exactly enthusiastic, but receptive to the idea of babywearing. I wore our second daughter occasionally when I was forced. I even watched as a carrier came to the house “for me”. Was I a babywearing dad? No. But I was a dad who wore my child occasionally with only a little bit of embarrassment. The fact that our second daughter would only decide to sleep after a brisk winter walk at night meant that I’d take the strange looks if it let me sleep. The embarrassment was worth the ability to rest.

The real turning point for me came when my wife told me we were going downtown to the National Mall for babywearing photos. My eldest daughter decided that while we were waiting for everyone to show, she’d run laps in new sandals. Funny enough, after a few minutes she had a blister that oozed whining. I broke out the Kozy “I” had purchased, and popped her on my back. Four hours of fifty small child pounds later, we had finished. Reflecting on the process I realize I was able to fix my daughter’s problem without any damage to the outing we had planned. I also didn’t have to lug a stroller all over God’s green creation just in case. That’s when babywearing went from something fluffy and ambiguous to something concrete with real value.

In the hospital with a 1 day old

The other big event that turned me into a Babywearing Dad was in the hospital with the birth of our third daughter. My wife was recovering from her third C-section and all she wanted in the world was a shower. The nurse had come into the room just as we were getting ready for the shower. I was in the middle of putting on the wrap so I could hold our day old daughter and help my wife to the shower. I’m halfway through tying the wrap on me and the nurse is staring at me like I’m about to jump out the window. Once I finish tying the stretchy wrap the only way I know, I plop our little daughter into it and watch the nurse as she’s taken aback. “Wow, you really do know what you’re doing” she said.

At that point I realized that I had a couple of things working both for and against me. I was a dad, and if TV commercials are to be believed, I have as much chance of taking care of a baby as I do de-arming a bomb. I also was doing something completely foreign to this nurse’s experiences. However, I had a great teacher and wasn’t worried about screwing up. I’d like to think that once the nurse saw what I was doing, and how much it helped me and my wife be independent in taking care of our child, she had a better understanding of how babywearing is beneficial.

My family has become very vocal advocates. We see how wonderful and useful babywearing is, no matter the form it takes. We spend a good amount of our free time trying to positively help and encourage families to babywear. And frankly, I’ve seen it do a world of good. If I can be convinced, I’m sure anyone can.

So, to the babywearing community at large: Let’s keep it up. Let’s keep improving people’s lives. Let’s keep solving problems. Let’s keep being kind, inclusive, caring, helpful, fun, positive people.