Monday, January 14, 2008

Make Room For More

There are a few things that I did with Samuel as an infant, that I am certain I will change while parenting Joseph. One of those is letting him sleep with us more. Samuel slept with me often, but not all the time. Since Andy wasn't there, I felt like it was a good idea. But now that Andy is home, I didn't originally think I would let Joseph sleep with us. After talking with both the Lord and Andy about this, and doing some more research, I have decided that letting Joseph sleep with us is the best for all of us. We've heard the argument about rolling over on him, but that's pretty impossible when he's sleeping in this, which is what we use. It's called a Snuggle Nest, that can be found here. The benefits far outweigh any cons that we might face.

Here is a great article I came across:

Dr. Lamport Commons, PhD
Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical Center

“We’re very in favor of co-sleeping, because it greatly reduces the stress that infants are exposed to when they sleep along. When a parent is sleeping down the hall and responds slowly or not at all when their baby cries, the baby’s brain releases stress hormones. And, there’s increasing evidence that this changes the physiology of how the baby will handle stress for the rest of his life -- it actually damages the brain.

SIDS Safety

Yes, there’s evidence that SIDS and suffocation can happen during co-sleeping, but there’s a simple remedy -- don’t put the infant unelevated between you. Put him on a hard pillow, raise him up, and you can’t roll onto him. These problems are so, so rare anyways, and tend to happen when a parent is obese or having alcohol problems. And actually, in the case of SIDS, there is in fact research that shows sleeping next to an adult helps babies breathe better. So while the risk of getting rolled onto may be increased, risk of SIDS in fact decreases with co-sleeping.

Stress Reliever
Infants are born helpless, and they’re not able to do anything other than cry for the first three or four months. So, when you’re co-sleeping, you can respond to the crying immediately. And you don’t have to wake up – you can feed and do all sorts of things while you’re half asleep. The parents sleep better and are less stressed, and when parents are less stressed, so is their baby. In most non-modern cultures, people aren’t so stressed out about the whole thing.

Human Nature

Humans evolved like most mammals -- the infants sleep with the parents. We develop such elaborate routines to try and get babies to sleep at night in their own beds. They can go on for hours and hours, and often don’t work -- the babies don’t go to sleep easily, and are much more wakeful than if they were securely next to a parent. And, you see that around age two, when babies are more mobile, there’s something I call the migration back to the parent’s bed. They climb out of their crib by themselves and get in with their parents. And of course, that’s just what they should do!

The Sex Issue

People are worried about the kids viewing sex, but there’s really no evidence that it has any effect on children. We forget that we have a pretty long evolutionary history in which groups often slept together, and children were exposed to sex and any number of other things we now try to protect them from. Honestly, most babies will sleep through it. They’re like cats and dogs – they don’t care. There’s no evidence that if a baby wakes up he’d be disturbed, but most babies won’t even wake up in a place they feel comfortable.

Simple Solution
I don’t know what the disadvantages are! You’ll sleep better, your baby will sleep better, and if you’re less tired, you’re less cranky and are better at interacting with the baby during the day. People complain all the time about how they’re exhausted. And why are they so tired? Because they’re not sleeping with their kids!"

Dr. Michael Lamport Collins, Ph.D. is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Patrice Marie Miller, Ed.D. is a clinical instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and a professor in the Department of Psychology at Salem State College.


Pam and Anders said...

I found the same article and I felt very comforted by it! I love having Arden near us, although he's sees his bassinet on occasion. :)

The Miller Menagerie said...

Dear Amy,

Thank you for stopping by my blog! We appreciate the comment. We've tried for a birth center birth, then a homebirth, but we've been transferred twice so far. Almost went with a hospital birth this time, but just didn't feel like we were getting the attention we had been used to in our previous pregnancies (and this was with a CNM practice too- I'd expect that from an OB/GYN).

Good luck on the co-sleeping. We've been a co-sleeping family since the day Prue came home from the hospital, and we added Newt to the mix the day he came home. With Rudy, #3, we're hoping that Prudence will move to a loft bed above ours, but we just haven't constructed it yet. She loves her "big girl bed" (decked out with Dora the Explorer sheets), but won't sleep in another room unless her Newty is with her. So, we're going to try to put a short, single-sized loft bed above our king bed (which is on the floor) to see if that is a nice transitioning measure for her. We'd love to have everyone in the bed with us, but even a King-sized bed has limits!

Bed rails are our friend! One on each side, and my husband and I in the middle was how we handled adding a second child to the mix. Most co-sleeping advocates discourage the children next to each other. We allow it now that Newt is over 1 (20 months) and is a burly dude who can throw his sister off of him in the night, but when he was younger, we slept between them.

I look forward to hearing your successful homebirth VBAC story!