Thursday, November 17, 2011

Another Co-Sleeping Rant...

This seems to be the week for shock-value advertising and though I have passed on commenting on other situations this one really saddened me.

This is Milwaukee's new anti-co-sleeping poster that shows co-sleeping as dangerous. The City of Milwaukee Health Department strongly advises parents NOT to share a bed with their infant. This is based on an American Academy of Pediatrics 2011 Policy Statement.

Really? After my initial shock, anger and sadness at what this poster is trying to do, I found it rather comical.

Co-sleeper, bed-sharers and parents practicing attached parenting that share a bed with their infant follow guidelines. First off, my babies usually wore pajamas with a sleep sack, an overnight cloth diaper, the sheets were fitted and flat, no pillows and of course, no meat cleaver!

So, why am I sad? And why am I posting about something so many others have been covering? Well, I worry either parents will stop bed sharing or feel bad and guilty about doing so. This is a topic I would love to hear many voices unite on. Don't tell me not to do the natural thing. Have we not learned anything from the great formula push of the 1950's and 1960's?

With my first child we bought a crib. It is probably a great thing that we rarely used it, the dropside crib we bought was later recalled... We tried to gently acclimate him to sleeping on his own. I tried and spent evenings and nights crying as my son wailed from the other room. He didn't just scream, he screamed until he got sick or shook. I was told tough love works eventually. Well, I wouldn't have it! Bed sharing became a way for me to get more sleep and both of us to bond stress-free.

When he was a year old he became very sick. It was a really scary time for me as a Mom to see him so weak and thin. I was there for every cough, every fever and to hear him breathe at night. I know it helped him as well as myself during those months. 

We were responsible. He slept in the middle in a sleep nest. But that didn't last long. Who would want to sleep in a shallow holder between your parents? So that went. We then got bed rails for either side of our bed and he was safely able to sleep between us. We still remember the feeling of his hands traveling over our faces in his sleep. He has always been very touchy.

With my second we didn't even fight it. She has always been an amazing sleeper and I credit this with never being away from us night or day.

Now why are we the only animals wanting to not protect and stay close together at night? I don't like to be stuck by myself in a big bed, or room? why would my baby?

My oldest is now 4 and his toddler bed is still in our room. We have decided to share a communal sleeping room. It fits our family best. We don't do anything in there except sleep, snuggle or read stories or sing songs before bedtime. We have created a whole room devoted to rest and relaxation.

So, do I think bed sharing is dangerous? No. Done responsibly I don't think there is a safer place for my babies to have slept at night. Neither my husband nor I are violent sleepers, have sleep disorders, smoke, are taking medication or drink so we were at low risk for hurting our children. Amazingly we found many of our friends also co-slept. The crazy thing is no one wanted to admit it at first. It was a taboo topic. 

Posters like this make it even harder to hold our heads up as co-sleepers.

If you share a bed or did, I urge your to share your stories. Compassionate and responsible parenting should never be shameful, but this poster is.
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