Sleeping with Baby
by Linda Michie Executive Director and Founder of Wishing Well Adoption & Family Services
This will be the most important blog I ever write.
Please help me share this information any chance you get with anyone who will listen.
Last year 37 healthy babies died, in Hampton Roads alone, due to Sudden Unexpected Infant Death. This means they suffocated in their sleep. They died silently because the simple safe-sleeping rules were not followed.
Unsafe sleeping is the number one cause of infant death in Virginia.
The days when we believed babies just stopped breathing during their sleep have been replaced with the knowledge that we are directly causing these deaths with our own actions.
Lisa Wall, from the Eastern Regional Child Fatality Review Team, tells me that a baby’s tongue makes a perfect seal in their mouth, forcing them to breathe through their nose while they sleep. Many babies only have one functioning nostril at birth so there is a tiny opening for air which can easily be blocked by anything or anyone. When that airway is blocked during sleep, babies don’t pull away, they don’t cry or scream or struggle, they simply and silently stop breathing. The parents unaware.
Ms. Wall also explained to me that the weight of an adult hand on a baby’s torso (front or back) is more than enough to eventually exhaust the baby’s diaphragm and cause breathing to stop.
Another thing I recently learned is that if a baby spits up during sleep on their back, the vomit will pool in their esophagus and go into their stomach. If a baby spits up during sleep on their front, the vomit will pool in their trachea, causing them to inhale the vomit into their lungs causing suffocation.
Here’s how baby sleeps safely:
• Alone in crib
• On their back
• No pillows, blankets, bumpers, toys, mobiles, or pets
• If baby dozes in car seat or swing, they must be monitored
• Never leave baby in a car seat on the couch
• Swaddling is only safe on back, in crib, until baby can wiggle free of the blanket
• Never risk falling asleep while nursing
I suspect that since we are all informed now about the dangers of unsafe sleeping, we will begin to see criminal charges for parents who knowingly put their children at risk of death by ignoring our warnings.
We all want to cuddle our babies. We know touch is essential in bonding. Let’s do our bonding while we’re awake, and keep all of our babies safe while they are asleep.
Written only out of love.
Linda has worked in the child welfare field since 1999 and is a Licensed Child Placing Agent.
Wishing Well assists in domestic adoptions in the state of Virginia, and provides parenting coaching, and supervised visitation in Virginia Beach, VA.
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