Dear Mayor Tom Barrett,
Your new campaign to improve the mortality rate of infants in your city has been brought to my attention; specifically, your posters depicting infants sleeping with knives in beds. To be honest, I find your ads offensive. Your ads vilify people like me. Who am I? So glad you asked. I graduated with a degree in education suma cum-laude from one of my state’s three prominent universities. I am currently a graduate school student pursuing a degree in early childhood education. Most importantly, I am a mother. I have two healthy, beautiful boys.
I take really good care of my boys. I stay at home to take care of them. I make sure they eat healthy food and have regular well checks from their pediatrician. I also provide them with developmentally appropriate learning activities, and I make sure that I treat them with the respect they deserve. My oldest son, who happens to be 4 years old, loves to play high energy sports, and he also enjoys learning about dinosaurs. My 5 month old, well, right now he is pretty interested in breastfeeding; a practice I know that you support.
I guess that up to this point the two of us could go bowling and get along fine; however, we differ in regards to where we each think the best place for a baby to sleep should be. I, personally, have had both of my children sleep in my bed since they were born. It wasn’t due to not having a crib; in fact, we had two with my firstborn and currently have one unused one with my second child. I chose to have my children sleep with me in my bed for several reasons, such as:
- Co-sleeping or bed sharing (let’s just call it co-sleeping so that we do not get caught up in the vernacular too much) helps facilitate breastfeeding.
- When a mother and child co-sleep, the infant’s breathing cycle mimics that of the mother’s which helps prevent an infant from ceasing to breath while sleeping, which may help prevent SIDS.
- Co-sleeping prevents an infant from unnecessary stress caused by separation from the mother, which may or may not help prevent SIDS.
- Co-sleeping helps a breastfeeding mother get more sleep throughout the night, which in turn makes for a healthier and happier mother.
- The bed should be free from excess blankets and pillows and low to the ground.
- The child should be on his or her back.
- The bed should not be situated in such a way that a child could roll and become trapped between the bed and the wall, and mesh guard rails can be used to prevent a child from rolling off the bed.
- The parent or parents sleeping in the bed with the child should not smoke in the same room as the child, nor should their clothes or bodies smell of smoke or other strong scents, as these smells can affect the breathing of the child.
- The parent or parents should never drink heavily prior to sleeping in the bed with the child, nor should they take medication that might make them sleep heavier than normal thereby preventing them from waking when and if the child should awake in the middle of the night.
- The bed should be flat and supportive.
- How about a poster that shows a baby sleeping on its back without excess pillows and blankets around it?
- How about a poster telling parents of newborns not to drink heavily as it might impair their ability to parent?
- How about a poster that says it is not a good idea to smoke in the same room or home as a baby?
- Or how about a poster that simply asks parents to think about the environment that their baby sleeps in?