Let Sleeping Babies Lie... On their Bellies?

P1016951
This week on Momversation I talked about letting my babies sleep on their bellies, something I was afraid to admit until this post wrestled it out of me. Something I'm glad I admitted because apparently, many of you are ALSO doing it, as in quietly breaking "the rules" and "Shhh... don't tell anybody BUT..."


I hate that we have to lie to each other to keep from being judged assuming that once we admit that "yes, our cribs have bumpers and no, we're not breastfeeding, and yes, our babies sleep on their bellies, andandandand and..." everyone will hate us and we will shrivel up and die.

So here's me admitting that no, I didn't breastfeed past the twins' first month of life and yes my babies sleep in their bumpered cribs on their bellies and yes, we're all okay. We're better than okay. We're thriving and happy and sleeping (mostly) through the night. And a lot of that has to do with breaking rules, forgoing statistics, ignoring advice, and doing what feels right in the moment. THIS moment right now this very second.

None of us are doing it "right". None of us are doing it "wrong". We're all just doing it. Good for us, I say. ALL of us. Parenting is an instinctual craft.

GGC

145 comments:

Elaine | 9:24 AM

I let my son start sleeping on his tummy somewhere around 4-5 months old. He was just so miserable trying to sleep on his back because of the reflux that I just said screw it and went with my gut.

He also has a bumper in his crib and I started formula at 10 weeks old.

The one thing I've learned about this mom thing is that we need to find our own confidence. If we don't it's so easy to get stream rolled into feeling awful when we shouldn't.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 9:27 AM

"The one thing I've learned about this mom thing is that we need to find our own confidence. If we don't it's so easy to get stream rolled into feeling awful when we shouldn't."

YES. I want to write your words on the sky, Elaine. SO completely yes.

adina | 9:29 AM

As someone whose first child died of SIDS, despite being exclusively breastfed and put on her back to sleep, it's hard to reconcile the sanctimoniousness of some moms about their parenting choices and sleeping practices with the reality of a dead infant. As a public health practitioner with a background in epidemiology, I do everything that I can to minimize the risks with my second child, now an infant, and I would not put him on his belly for sleeping at this point, nor would I have him in a bumpered crib. But lots of parents do these things, and that's okay. Everyone has to make their own choices and decisions around parenting, and I think we all have to trust that we (more or less) know what's best for our own children/families/selves, and that this is true of/for other parents as well. The judgment that crops up, especially around this issue, is OUT OF CONTROL. Your blog is lovable for many reasons, but one of my favorite things about it is its utter lack of judgment. Thanks for writing. x a

cd | 9:29 AM

You do you, mama.

I'm having the "eek, but what about the guidelines!" moment about when to turn the car seat around.

I've found I don't even have to wait for the judgment of others anymore, I go ahead and take care of it myself!

It's possible we're all a bit hard on ourselves a wee bit too often.

Arnebya | 9:30 AM

Exactly. We're all just doing it. The lists we make, the decisions we make about what we're going to do, how we're going to do it, when we're going to do it -- those all go out the window when the baby(ies) gets home and dictates changes to our carefully laid plans. We adapt. We grow. We do what's best for US. And sometimes, yes, that does mean going against the supposed-to's.

Margaret | 9:33 AM

So, I had to stare at the nurses in the hospital as my youngest was discharged and nod when they said that co-sleeping is absolutely unsafe (we had a home birth but had to spend a few days at the hospital anyway). We bed-share for part of the night anyway. And my daughter sleeps on her belly during naps (she's fine on her back during the night). The first time I did it I sat next to her the whole time to make sure she kept breathing. She's my second, though, I'm not a new mom, and I realized that the fear has gotten to me, too. It's so stupid. I feel like doctors, nurses, and we as a parenting community should be helping eliminate fear and worry, not use it as a motivator to *keep the kids ALIVE*. It's the worst way to parent, I think.

aw | 9:34 AM

I don't think the back to sleep campaign is about making people feel bad or like they have to lie about their choices. With the data that's emerged, it'd be irresponsible for them *not* to promote babies sleeping on their stomachs. If they can reduce SIDS cases by 50%, theoretically keeping half of the babies alive that would have died, they have to have a decisive stance on the issue. It's sort of like bedsharing, in that there can be a way to do it that is safe, but for the general public, they go with what will reduce risk in the greatest portion of the population. For people that can afford something like a movement-detecting monitor, belly sleeping might be just fine. But they have to go on the assumption that people don't have fancy equipment, and make recommendations based on that.

Arnebya | 9:34 AM

Adina, I'm so sorry about your first precious baby. What I LOVE about your comment is that you gave your reason for differing with Rebecca in your bumper use and belly sleeping, BUT you make it a point to say "that's okay" regarding her choices. And that is nothing short of beautiful.

Sonja | 9:37 AM

My son slept exclusively in his car seat until he was about 4 mos. old. It was the ONLY place he would sleep as putting him on his back triggered his startle reflex and he would wake himself up. I'm sure in my sleep deprivation, I absolutely would have tried putting him on his tummy - I just noticed that he *did* sleep in the car seat - so that's what we went with. In the car seat, which was placed in his co-sleeper. It was quite the set-up, but it worked.

(And oh, apparently was dangerous because his airway might have collapsed? But he was right next to me. And asleep! So, y'know, take what I can get.)

Geneva | 9:38 AM

My son would not sleep unless I was holding him for the first ten months of his life. I got an occasional respite, if I put him in the baby swing, but for the most part, it was get up every thirty minutes in the night, or (safely, carefully) co-sleep with him. I will never forget the woman who, when my son was 3 months old, asked me if he was sleeping through the night. When I told her that he slept AT night, as long as he was next to me, she replied, "Oh, you've ruined him." Insert slack-jawed, gobsmacked facial expression and lack of a good comeback on my part.

c is for cape town | 9:38 AM

Yup. My second child totally slept on her stomach from early on and I didn't breath a word to anyone ...
Good for you Bec, good for you.
And thanks.

mom2nji | 9:39 AM

My middle son got used to tummy sleeping in the NICU. I tried my best to get him on his back, but it didnt work. Arabella hates her belly and sleeps propped on a boppy in bed with us, another no no, but she sleeps!

aw | 9:41 AM

Also, @cd, you might have an easier time making up your mind if you look for some youtube videos on internal decapitation. I'm not trying to fear-monger, there are MAJOR reasons to rear-face until the maximum limits on your carseat, rather than going by the mimimums set by the govt for forward-facing.

Christina @busybmommy | 9:45 AM

When I found out at 20 that I was pregnant (SURPRISE!) I ran out to buy a "How To" book. I settled on "The Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth" because that was the one I felt least intimidated by.

I remember reading how hard breastfeeding was going to be, how I needed to sign up for La Leche League (NOW!) and the rules (dear god the RULES!!!) that I was going to have to follow about EVERYTHING.

Then Lucas was born and on the 3rd night home from the hospital my mom found me sobbing in my rocking chair at 2am because the baby had peed through his clothes 3 times and I was tired and sore and help!!! My sweet mother (my Obi Wan Konobi) took my newborn from my arms, changed him, wrapped him in a blanket and put us both to bed. "He was cold Christina," she whispered, "He just needed a blanket." But don't you know, no blankets mom! And no tummy sleeping, and ad infinitum.

Thank you Rebecca for always being HONEST. That is why I love your blog so much (and sing its praises to all my fellow momm-ians!). I love what my bff says all the time, "It's not right. It's not wrong. It's different."

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 9:45 AM

We co-slept with Fable until she was one year old and I was told repeatedly that we were putting her life at risk by doing so. It was SO CLEARLY the right choice for us. For all of us but I spent much of those months with all those voices in my head telling me I was wrong. And I resent them this time around. Because Bo and Revi are clearly so much happier sleeping on their bellies just like Fable (and I!) were so much happier co-sleeping.

Adina - Thank you for sharing your perspective and experience. I'm so sorry to hear about your perfect baby and am so incredibly moved by the kindness and lack of judgement in YOUR words. Much love to you and your family.

Cave Momma | 9:48 AM

My first slept on her side if she wasn't sleeping with me. My second MUCH preferred his tummy. We went the paranoid route with no traditional bumpers (only the breathable) but that was how he wanted to sleep and we went with it. They were both only breastfed for 3-4 months and it was not exclusively. Screw the judgmental people, we do what we feel is best for our own.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 9:49 AM

And P.S. I turned both Archer and Fable's seats around when they turned one. Both of them HATED being rear-facing.

I understand the argument that it's safer for them to stay rear facing well into adulthood but so is keeping them inside the house. When does it end?

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 9:52 AM

Also, I love you guys. Thank you for your honesty.

Kammy | 9:52 AM

I admit that I have been guilty of judging other mommies in the past--something that I feel bad about now, because I didn't know their situation.
I had a lot of people give me bad advice when I was a first-time mom and I quickly learned to just not ask for advice and do what I felt was right for me and my child. I mostly followed 'the rules', especially with my first-born, but did make some changes along the way.
Everyone's situation is unique. One set of rules does not fit all.

Shanna | 9:54 AM

I think people have to remember that parenting is more of an art than an science. We all do the best we can - well most of us! My daughter also sleeps in a crib with bumpers btw. :)

loodles | 9:57 AM

Preach!
Good parenting takes a billion different forms.
Example: My Soph HATED, absolutely hated facing backward She screamed as though she was being flayed alive and when I switched her around it was a game changer. It might have been the "wrong" choice but it made me a safer driver and my kid happy.
You gotta do what you have to do.

Stephannie | 9:59 AM

With my first, like many new parents, we did it ALL by the book. Never mind the back sleeping and the like, but I felt INSANELY guilty for MONTHS after because I just. couldn't. breastfeed. And you all "know" that if you don't you are shamed and looked down upon by many many people - it was my "dirty secret." I would lie about it.
With my second, we do everything that feels right for us and especially HIM. What can we do to make HIS life more comfortable and happy.
Well, that's included belly sleeping, bumper-pads, AND (gasp) bottle and formula fed...his second day in the hospital I spoke up and said to the nurse, "I've done this before, breastfeeding just doesn't work for me. I'll pump and supplement with formula - from a bottle. This is NOT up for discussion. Kindly respect my decision, thank you."
What a freeing experience to speak up, stand up for myself and take my power back.
Thanks for your story Bec - we ALL have our "dirty little parenting secrets." :)

Liz | 10:01 AM

I love you for being you. That is all.

RebekahAmy | 10:18 AM

somCould not agree more. My son still has bumpers on his crib, even though he is now a toddler. Each family should do what is right for them. I slept with my son when he was an infant and moved him to his bassinet when I felt it was time to.

Erin | 10:25 AM

Oh thank goodness! I can come out of hiding now.

Yes, I let my baby sleep on her tummy. Yes, I have bumpers in her crib. Yes, I gave her cereal in her bottle when she was six weeks old.

Honesty is liberating!

robyn devine | 10:33 AM

owen sleeps on his tummy, too. he used to sleep on his back only, but as soon as he learned to roll over, he puts himself on his tummy as soon as he's ready to sleep, and sleeps that way all night.

we still put him in his crib on his back - we figure that way we're not lying to our pediatrician when he asks if we put him down that way!

Anonymous | 10:43 AM

I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned this yet, but my brother and sister-in-law use something called an Angel Care monitor. It's a sensor pad that goes under the baby's mattress and it can sense any sleep apnea of over 20 seconds. It will beep in the room to hopefully stimulate the baby to take a breath, and it will alarm the parents. My niece likes to sleep on her stomach sometimes, so whenever they lay her down on her stomach, they turn on the monitor and it gives them a little more peace of mind.
I think that whatever keeps your baby happy and healthy is best. Sleep is so important, so if they are only happy on their stomachs then thats what you have to do. I think the monitor is just a great way to reduce some of the anxiety parents have about letting their babies sleep on their tummies.
-Hayley

mpotter | 10:44 AM

my daughter slept on her belly in week 3.
and tho she refused to nap for the first 10.5 weeks of life, she slept thru the nite from 1mo old- 4mos old. then, apparently someone must've clued her in that it was quite strange. so she woke up nightly from 4m-13m. that was fun!

i sorta worried that she wouldn't want to sleep in her toddler bed because she always slept on her belly, but she rolled over and hasn't rolled over any other way since... she's a great sleeper at night.

we all slept on our bellies and didn't have carseats and ran outside and played with friends and ate non-organic food.....
somehow we made it to the age to make our own decisions regarding our own children!

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 10:44 AM

Thank you, Hayley! That's a really great recommendation! I know parents who swear by those, too. xoxo

ShannonO.P | 10:49 AM

I COMPLETELY agree with you that we women can be each other's own worst critics! I always hated participating in "mommy groups" with my first, because it just felt like a big circle of women judging the way each other chose to do things with our children. I understand that all of the "rules" are in place to help the majority keep their babies safe, and thank god for that, but at the end of the day, we have to act like intelligent adults and make the best decisions for OUR children and OUR families.

I and my sister slept on our stomachs as babies. My daughter HATED sleeping on her back and as soon as she could lift and turn her head by herself confidently we tried her on her stomach. She slept through the night from that day on, no exaggeration.


I think we have to be willing to respect each other's choices when they're made with thoughtfulness and love.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 10:52 AM

And MPotter - Yes. We all survived with COMPLETELY different standards and requirements. BOOM. Paranoia (in my opinion) is far more dangerous than a forward facing carseat.

Anonymous | 10:54 AM

You go, girl! I think sometimes we can benefit from the wisdom of our mothers in that they have seen parenting "trends" come and go with the wind. Whenever one of these new trends, like back sleeping, comes up, my mom just sighs and wonders aloud how I ever made it under her care!

I really love these comments. Everyone is finally admitting that sometimes expert advice just doesn't work and parents just need to do what works for them. We're going to start trying for a baby soon and this post makes me feel like I can be a good mom using my own instincts and tune out the judgement.

Steph | 10:57 AM

Most of the crap and judgement out there is really a matter of personal style. Let's not confuse personal preference and evidence-based advice. I understand that "scientific" advice is not unbiased or always in the best interest of parents or babies in real life. I believe my babies are at less risk if SIDS on their backs and even though the chance of SIDS is slim, it would worry me no end if they were sleeping on their bellies. I really understand about doing what gets us through, but sometimes some advice and practices are better than others (it's not ALWAYS a bad thing to exercise our judgement!). Of course we should be confident with our own decisions, and most things, I think, we decide in parenting are "on balance" rather than having a very polarised stance on something... But just so long as we don't eschew good advice along with the bad.

Anonymous | 10:57 AM

No disrespect to anyone who has lost a child. It is by far the most devestating thing to go through. But SIDS happens to babies to sleep on their back, and one their tummies, and those who co-sleep, and those who sleep in a bumpered crib and an unbumpered crib. It happens to perfectly happy, healty 18mth olds who take their usual afternoon nap and don't wake up. My best friend lost her toddler to SUDC/toddler SIDS. I watched her beat herself up over all the what ifs. What if she had checked on her sooner. What if she had sat down and held her through her nap. Why was laundry more important?
In the end, we do what we feel is best for our child(ren), and it doesn't nessecarily have to be what someone else thinks is best

D. Marie | 11:00 AM

Both of my girls slept on their bellies. I was so positive I was "doing it wrong", especially with my first, I was a crying, slobbering mess in the Peds office. The doctor, very calmly, asked me if that's what they wanted (meaning were they fussing on their backs on were only calm on their stomachs). When I whimpered "yes", he said, "So be it."

My grandmother swore the fear of mothers putting kids on their backs was one developed by too much information and technology and baby books. I'm starting to agree.

sophie | 11:00 AM

Adina, I am so sorry about your sweet baby. Thank you for such wonderful, nonjudgmental words l, despite your tragic loss. We need more mamas thinking like this. Thank you.

I somewhat agree with Kammy; I wish someone would have told me, a new young mother, NOT to feel obligated to take others' advice. I think that when you're a new mom, everyone (including the grocery store clerk, the elderly woman you pass in the mall, your mother's best friend's cousin) feels the right to tell you how to parent. There are books, classes, websites and online chats right alongside the unsolicited advice; it's so easy to break down and become overwhelmed with thinking you're doing it all wrong. I remember having a full blown meltdown when my first daughter flipped to stomach sleeping at only a few months old. I thought for sure she would die, and out of fear would disrupt her sleeping by flipping her back over. I knew I was irrational but "everyone said she shouldn't sleep like this!" I got over it though and everyone survived. (She also used a crib bumper and I didn't breast feed her past 4 months.)

Now, with my second, I purposefully ignore most unsolicited advice, unsubscribed from my Babycenter updates, and we go with what feels right. We co-sleep, she belly sleeps in her crib for naps, etc. We've finally found a nice little groove and everyone is happy.

My point is, what happened to promoting just good old maternal instinct? No one knows a baby as well as its mother. My advice to new moms now is "do what feels right for YOU and your family. Trust your gut."

Zoe | 11:03 AM

Big Bro - breastfed until 6 months. Started formula due to failure to thrive. Took bottles until he was almost 2 yrs. In crib in own room at 6 weeks, bumper in crib, stuffed toy and blanket in crib at 4 mths. Napped on tummy on couch from 10 weeks until 4mths. Forward facing at one year. Sucked his thumb until he was 6 yrs old.

Big Sis - Breastfed until 5½ mths (also stopped gaining weight). In crib in own room at 10 weeks. No bumper. The reason - the one that came with her bedding was crap. Stuffed toys in corner of crib. Champion napper, so no need for tummy sleep. Forward facing at 15 mths once she was big enough. Still sucking her thumb at 4 yrs.

Lil Sis - Started formula at 8 weeks due to low supply. In crib in room with Big Sis at 9 weeks, bumper in crib (switched to mesh at 10 mths because it was freaking her out that she couldn't see outside her bed). Stuffed toys in corners of crib. Cuddle naps from 9 weeks until 4 mths because she would not nap in her bed. Started napping on her belly at 4 mths - babysitter could not hold her for naps. Slept great swaddled on back at night. At nearly 17 mths, she still gets one bottle each night before bed, uses a paci (no plans to give that up) and is only rearfacing because she's in the middle row of the van and likes watching her siblings go cuckoo bananas.

So three kids, totally different parenting decisions for each. My son was such a huge learning curve for me. I read all the books and felt so stresed so I went with my gut for my girls and it has worked out great. I wish we could learn to trust our mama instincts more. My MIL would constantly slam my decision to hold my youngest for naps, saying we would spoil her. But this child, this is the toddler who goes down for a nap and for the night without needing to be rocked, and without CIO since she was 6 months old. And I think that came because I followed her cues and gave her what want she needed from me, rather than what someone told me to do.

Awesome Mom | 11:05 AM

This is why I love reading this blog!!!! Well that and the super cute baby pictures.

Anonymous | 11:06 AM

Listening to your intuition will drown out the swirling mass of information that cause self doubt.

When it comes to raising children, logic rarely makes sense.

Muahh! Kisses all around.

sophie | 11:07 AM

Also, Rebecca, I just love you for this. Thank you for opening such an honest, loving discussion! This really made my day.

Micheline Ludwick | 11:10 AM

Thank you for this. I know that for the past few generations mothers have been told either to put babies on their bellies, put them on their side, or now put them on their backs. I so agree that we need to do what works for us as mothers and for each child (within reason, of course). I co-sleep for part of the night with my daughter because it's what works best for both of us at the moment. But I'm also not opposed to letting her cry a bit when she's older. I hate feeling judged either way and have become way less judgmental of other parents now that I'm a mom.

kaysie | 11:12 AM

This is something I've struggled with as well. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old, and they both preferred to sleep on their bellies. And did I sometimes let them, after the fifth night in a row of sleepless back sleep, and nonexistent naps? Yes, I did. But I wrestled with it every day; my sister died of SIDS when I was a young child, and I've been marked by that. When it came time for me to have a family of my own, I did try to "follow" the guidelines. And for the most part I did. But at some point, when my babies had a bit of neck control and just refused anything but, I let go and let them belly sleep. To ease my mind, I invested in the Angelcare Monitor. I think you're absolutely right that there will always be some issue that comes up in parenting for which you feel judged. But you have to believe in yourself as a parent, and know that the right choices for one are different for another.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 11:12 AM

That's a really good point, Steph. Breaking rules just to break them isn't the point and of course, there is good advice out there. But the REAL voice of reason is us. We should give ourselves credit for trusting our instincts and listening to OUR voices instead of feeling shameful for breaking the rules.

YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING. THANK YOU!

Erin | 11:17 AM

We co-slept, he slept in his swing, we got a crib tent because he kept crawling out and falling on the floor, he watches a lot of cartoons...I'm a terrible parent.

Janel | 11:17 AM

My first and second babies didn't sleep on their tummies. They didn't sleep at all, I don't think, unless they were right next to me, in our bed. But this time, with my third daughter, I knew I needed real, actual sleep, so I tried putting her on her tummy around two months, and she went out like a light, all night. I only tried it because I remember a friend of mine telling me she put all four of her boys on their tummies to sleep, and felt no shame about it. So one day I just said, "Fuck it, I'm tired," and tried it. Thank God I did! It doesn't mean I didn't pop and and check her breathing every hour, but I'm less neurotic now that she's getting to be almost six months old. But, then again, I still check to see if my five year old is breathing, so I guess it never ends.

Glenda | 11:27 AM

I think in the end guidelines are there to guide us; just as advice. In the end as a mother we have to do what we think is right for our children. Both of mine slept on their tummies. I didn't breastfeed. I gave them cereal in their bottle when they were "oh a month old" and they were chunky monkey's until they started walking. My first at 10 mos and my second at 13 mos. Neither are obese and both are tall and slender.

Your babies/children x4 are gorgeous and adorable... you're doing it!!! Keep doing what makes all of you happy (that's the most important thing)

Have a great weekend!

Elise | 11:31 AM

I agree 100% that parents should make the best decision for their family. But, I'm assuming (from what I've read) that most of the folks reading and commenting here are educated individuals with access to information and the capability to comprehend it. The actual level of literacy in the general population is much lower, and there are parents out there who don't have these resources or capabilities.

Broad Public Health guidelines(crib bumpers, back sleeping) are meant to benefit society as a whole, to reduce the total number of infant deaths in a population. The truth is that there is a real association between sleeping on your stomach and dying of SIDS for a baby. The rate of SIDS is low, so in order to spare one family the pain of having their baby die (and give that baby a chance to grow up), a large proportion of the population has to comply with the guidelines. In addition, because of the known risk, those who choose not to comply with the recommendations are more likely to check on their baby more often, to use a monitor, to be more vigilant in general, thus having better outcomes.

This is just a pet peeve of mine, but the arguement that "we survived" whatever historical child-rearing practice is in question is a fallacious one. It's like saying the flu isn't contagious because you didn't catch it, or alcohol isn't addictive because you are able to drink in moderation. We cannot make a generalization based solely on our personal experiences. Frankly, it's insulting to those thousands of families who have lost children during our lifetime.

Nakia | 11:35 AM

"None of us are doing it "right". None of us are doing it "wrong". We're all just doing it. Good for us, I say. ALL of us. Parenting is an instinctual craft."

Amen to that.

I think that we've forgotten that parenting is in fact instinctual. We as parents have allowed our own instincts and voices to be scared into silence because of all the "expert" advice that is to be found.

Yes, the data supporting a lot of the various standpoints to safe, healthy child rearing can be helpful, BUT... we need to remember that 1) we're not helping anyone when we tear others down for their decisions to breastfeed or not, to use bumpers or not, to rear face or not and 2) we should trust in ourselves when raising our children rather than leaving ALL of our choices to be made based solely on percentages and reams of data.

Claire | 11:37 AM

I did not breast feed my daughters for different reasons. I wanted to but I could not. For my oldest, I tried for three days but she was intolerant and did better on formula. I was berated for not breast feeding especially by family members because my mother breast fed me until the age of 4. My oldest slept in a bouncy chair until she was 1 1/2 because I was scared of the crib. My second daughter was not breast fed at all. The nurses in the hospital refused to provide formula until I at least tried but I couldn't. I had to get back on my medication as soon as she was born and it was excreted in breast milk and bad, bad, bad for babies. I had to fight them for formula for my baby. I have been more relaxed this time around. She slept in the crib from day one and would roll to her side or her tummy and I would not move her as long as she was comfortable. She slept with blankets and stuffed animals and a beautiful bumper in her crib. She will be 1 on Tuesday (2/7) and she is happy and healthy. She may have dwarfism but that just makes her even cuter in my book!

Jen R. @ The Teachers' Cauldron | 11:48 AM

shhh!! I am not only letting my baby sleep on her belly (at times), but she also co-sleeps with me - like in my arms....
You have to do what works for you and your babies! Not all babies like to sleep on their backs!

Lori W. | 11:53 AM

I have put both of my children on their bellies to try to get them to sleep. (It worked for one, but not the other.) They both had bumpers and a stuffed animal or two or three or four in their baby beds. I used blankets in their baby beds. And I've co-slept with both as infants, toddlers, even older on many many many nights because, well, it worked. We slept. WE SLEPT! And sleeping is glorious. Not sleeping sucks. Whatever works. That's my motto.

kristin | 12:10 PM

OMG - I'm reliving some of my maternal guilt at LYING to the pediatrician when she asked about my twins sleeping at the 4 mo check up. Of course they sleep on their backs! Never mind that they hadn't slept on their backs for weeks - but the point is that they ARE sleeping and that can only be a good thing.

Jano | 12:37 PM

I have a wee girl the same age as your twins. Last night I woke up in a sweat and had to go check on her to make sure she was breathing. She sleeps on her back, no bumpers and no monitor. It doesn't matter how they sleep, it (SIDS) can happen anywhere, anytime. I didn't stop worrying with our first child until she was well past her first birthday.

Good on you for being honest, we need more honesty and less judgment. There is enough to feel guilty about, without other people opining about every decision we as parents make in the interests of our children.

BlesstheFunk | 12:43 PM

I love this do much, and only wish I could follow my instincts more (then my son would sleep in my arm where he sleeps best, and not in the co-sleeper next to my bedside)

BUT

the statistic-spewing, book-pounding, fear-mongering voice that is the loudest? Is my husband's. He lives in the theory and will not (cannot) simply adjust to the individual situation. Because that would be stupid and dangerous.

Sigh.

RebeccaH1017 | 12:44 PM

I tried desperately to get my twin boys to sleep in their cribs, on their backs, as soon as we came home from the hospital. And then my husband found me one night, at some rude hour in the middle of the night, sobbing on the the floor in between their cribs - and promptly told me I needed to do whatever I needed to do to get some sleep. And for the next couple months they *happily* napped/slept in their bouncers while I slept on the couch. Once we made the transition back into the cribs (am in the ONLY one whose twins wanted nothing to do with sharing a crib??? lol) one slept on his back just fine, and the other only on his tummy. So that's what we did. And they've both been sleeping through the night (mostly) for over a year.

I feel at some point people "excused" my lack of parenting skills (ha!) - only breastfeeding for a few weeks, sleeping situation, etc. - BECAUSE I had twins. I felt like I was treated like I SHOULD be doing whatever I wanted, because how ever else would I survive?!?! Or maybe people WERE judging me, I was just too tired to notice...

Thank you for being so honest, as everyone said, it's such a relief to know I'm not the only one breaking rules out there!

Rebecca B | 1:02 PM

All three of my babies were peaceful tummy sleepers from early infancy. It was not until my 3rd child, however, that I had the confidence to be honest about it to my pediatrician. I was somewhat surprised when she admitted that though she could not officially sanction it, her kids were tummy sleepers too.

Life is full of risks. Some of those risks get a lot of attention and others we accept without much thought. I strap myself and all three of my kids in the car and hurtle down the highway everyday, putting our whole family at "risk". We all have to get where we are going the best way we know how.

Confidence! Only you really know your heart.

NOELLE ALOUD | 1:10 PM

Your comment in the comments is what really resonates with me: "We all survived with COMPLETELY different standards and requirements."

It's absolutely true. And the standards change all the time. My brother and I are two years, two months apart, and the recommendations for sleep (and feeding and other things) changed between our births! My own little Westley loved a tight, tight swaddle as a baby. Four years later, the recommendation is to swaddle loosely. But my son is walking—and jumping and climbing—just beautifully.

I was scared out of my mind trying to "get it right" in those first few months, and it destroyed me. The message to parents—and mothers in particular—is "This is YOUR responsibility. If something goes wrong it's YOUR fault." It starts in pregnancy, the notion that if you eat the right foods and take the right supplements and drink enough (filtered!) water and exercise and gain X amount of weight and so on, everything will be fine. But that's not the reality! There is so much that we can't control, no matter how "perfect" or by-the-book our actions are.

SDRichlandgirl | 1:47 PM

I feel so sad for all of your babies. Our job as parents is to protect our children. Placing them on their bellies to sleep is like putting our precious children on the back seat of the car with no car seat and no seat belt. Why take that chance? SIDS is real. You baby's risk of dying of SIDS increases tremendously even if they only sleep on their tummy once. Why would you risk your childs life and then encourage other new moms to do the same? Please do your reseach before you post something like this.

SDRichlandgirl | 1:57 PM

How am I such an expert? My 3 month old daughter Jenelle died of SIDS in 1993 before the back to sleep campaign even began. I take SIDS very seriously and so should every mom. Safe sleep is also an issue that most new parents no nothing about. If you want to learn more don't ask your doctor or friend or aunt, the experts are-californiasids.org and firstcandle.org. Trust them and trust me, I would have done anything to have my daughter alive today. Including hearing her complain about sleeping on her back.......

Warrior Woman | 2:18 PM

I have a confession to make. We co-sleep..with blankets... and pillows, yikes! But we have turned out three beautiful kids and none is the worst for wear. Lately the judgement has been coming at me for breastfeeding past 12 months. Everyone should do what works for them and not be made to feel bad about it. The medical community has to put out the public health messages but in the end you do what works best.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 2:21 PM

SDRichlandgirl - I'm encouraging mothers to trust their gut and not to feel guilty for doing so. Every day we make decisions as parents that may or may not result in A, B, or C. What's right for me isn't right for everybody but what's right for everybody doesn't have to be right for me either. I'm so sorry for your loss and appreciate you for sharing your experience and perspective. Sending you love.

Shannon | 2:26 PM

I am absolutely not judging anybody for their choices as I know too well what sleep deprivation is like (two very VERY colicky babies). I do tend to side with the research in this case. My understanding of the info about SIDS is that the reason they don't want babies sleeping on their tummies is that they sleep so much more soundly, too deeply, and that it can somehow inhibit some of the body's breathing reflexes, particularly if they get smushed up into a corner in the crib or with a blanket around their face or something. It is super SUPER hard to choose to put your baby to bed on their back when you know they would sleep so much more soundly on their tummies.

I'm by no means an expert but there are a lot of things that have been shown to contribute to SIDS so perhaps tummy sleeping but making sure that the other factors are not there (ie. smoking in the home etc.) is enough for those who really feel that's the best choice for their family? I just couldn't personally get past the data that said SIDS deaths dropped 50% after the back-to-sleep campaign started. I was too cautious to put my babies to sleep on their stomachs and I don't believe it was "fear-mongering" but honestly looking at the data. But I try to make my parenting choices my own and keep my opinions about others choices to myself because I'm assuming that the vast majority of parents are reading the same research and getting the same info as me from their doctors and making an informed choice to do what seems best for them.

I will say that I disagree with your choice of words that you slept on your tummy as have many generations of babies and you were fine. It kind of seemed to me like you were offering that as proof that it is ok because it has been done for generations which is not a fair scientific observation and an unfair argument for doing it.

Thanks for your post though. I found it interesting! And I find it encouraging that most of the people who are commenting are able to respectfully disagree with each other without turning it into a big scolding.

Karah | 2:38 PM

Hm where do I start? I co-sleep, all 3 of my kids have been belly sleepers, I don't start solids until they can do it themselves, on that note my 10 month old eats seafood(shellfish included) cooked nuts, popcorn (not really ok'd by me but when there are older siblings things happen). Oddly he has never had gluten or dairy (celiac and dairy allergies over here so it's just not in the house). We don't drink milk or juice to the horror of our pediatrician (but how will they get their fruit servings? They need to drink juice) because we just don't like it and above allergy. I don't have a baby gate for the stairs, my six year old has actual tools, nails and wood that he plays with. My kids know how to hand sew at 4 and 6 with real needles (gasp) and both of my older 2 know how to make a mean fried egg (supervised of course but totally on their own). Fear of every little thing doesnt help our children. It's stifling. Sometimes you have to listen to your instinct and let them sleep on their tummies or build themselves a fort.

Lauren Knight | 2:39 PM

THANK YOU. Thank you. That's all.

Sherewin | 2:43 PM

Right on! There's a risk of SIDS on their bellies, but there's also the risk of aspirating on spit up on their backs, right. So, we have to eliminate the risk as much and possible and then *try* to stop living in fear.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 2:44 PM

P.S. And for the record: I got rid of our old crib mattress and replaced them with naturepedic organic crib mattresses BECAUSE of research that led me to believe that old mattresses were dangerous (harmful fumes, motes that get in mattress after years of use, etc) So I do respect research and make my decisions according to what makes sense and puts me at ease as a parent. I'm in no means saying NOT to do your homework before making a decision. HOWEVER. I do think that part of that homework should be listening to ourselves and our children and doing what makes sense for our families without the paralyzing guilt that seems to pervade the parent hood.

cora d | 2:48 PM

Yes, yes, yes! I've told many moms, no one has ever parented your child before. Advice can help, perhaps give you some insight, but you have to listen your gut.

Both my girls had bottles at 3 days old. And also breatsfed (until 3 mos) - no nipple confusion.

My youngest sleeps on her tummy - as soon as she could roll over, that's how she started sleeping.

My girls watch TV (in the car sometimes!), drink chocolate milk, eat processed kid food, have a bath once a week and are not on a schedule - they nap and eat when they want. And they rock, says more people than just my spouse and I.

Viva la difference!

Heather Bauer | 3:02 PM

My first baby slept on her back from day one and we had no issues. My second little girl (now 10 weeks) had so much trouble sleeping, it was affecting everyone in the house. My mom and mother-in-law both met our little Emery and saw how soundly she napped on our chests and suggested either co-sleeping or tummy sleeping. Two HUGE NO-NO's! But this was very clearly how Emery wanted to sleep. It was such a difficult decision for our family, but we were running out of options and NEEDED TO SLEEP!!! We chose to let her sleep on her tummy (instead of co-sleep) because she was already so physically strong—-at 4 weeks old she could push herself up on her arms and fully move her head from side to side without issue. At first I only had her on her tummy for naps, so I could observe her and know that she'd be ok at night. She sleeps two feet away from me in an Arms Reach Co-Sleeper crib and I still worry about her. The 8 hours of sleep each night, though, is helping me worry less! I'm slowly becoming more confident that this is the right choice for my child, and your post about empowering mothers' instincts is very helpful. Thank you for sharing your story!

Saskia | 3:02 PM

THIS is why I keep reading your blog. Thank you. Oh, and I avoided a meltdown just today with your "balloon party in the sky" story, so double thank you.

Ashlie | 3:52 PM

Thank you. I have a 3.5 month old son and work in an elementary school. Basically, for the past year of my life, I've had nothing solicited/unsolicited advice about everything from a pregnancy diet to daycare to early reading skills. Coupled with a healthy love for mommy blogs (few of which are as laid-back and encouraging as this one), I suffered information overload.

When my plans for a breastfed and cloth-diapered baby who slept safely in his crib from day one fell apart, I spent so much time HATING myself and feeling like a failure. It took me too long to stop beating myself up and honestly own my parenting choices. I've come to realize that my family is happy and healthy and we do everything on our own timeline, taking advice from the people we trust the most (basically? my mom.)

Again, thank you thank you. Such a relief to read honesty and happiness.

Mama Smith | 4:07 PM

I agree that we all have way too many opinions on other people's choices regarding how they raise their child. I also co-slept for many months and the idea that you'll somehow forget your baby is there and crush them is laughable once you've done it. There is just no way that could happen.

On the other hand there are some choices that I personally do make because I think they're healthier or better for my child and I am also really tired of being told how silly the concerns are. I do rear face my car seat and don't want any loose blankets in the crib and didn't start solid foods until the recommended 6 mo and am uber restrictive about the food my kid eats and still nurse at 14 months... soooo many people repeatedly tell me that there are too many rules and not to follow them. That's really annoying too! We all need to respect eachother's choices and Adina's comment was such a moving example of how that's possible.

Janet | 4:10 PM

Our Rebecca has slept on her back since she was able to lift her own head. We have also coslept pretty much since she was born. I received many warnings about how unsafe cosleeping was and how I was putting her at risk. I believe, with most things, risks are only risks if you do things wrong. Cosleeping can be perfectly safe if you follow simple guidelines, and I felt that the fact we were cosleeping made it safer for her to sleep on her belly, because I was so close to her I could hear her breathing, and would naturally wake if she woke or moved or made a slight sound so I believe I would wake if anything bad happened too. She has just turned 1 and I still worry about SIDS, but if I let that worry consume me then I would never be able to let her sleep. The thing about SIDS is that happens for no reason, to perfectly happy healthy babies, so I can't say that there's anything I could do to prevent it. Once she reached a certain age she would turn herself on to her front in her sleep, and I can't always know to turn her back, so it's obviously what's right for her.


Oh, and I'd just like to say a big well done for breastfeeding the twins through the first month. Breastfeeding for any length of time is an amazing gift, and managing to get to a month with TWO babies to deal with is a great achievement. It's something you should be proud to say, not worried to admit.

Chrissy | 4:48 PM

I love you Rebecca but I think it's a bit dangerous.

I highly doubt that the National Institute of Health's prime directive is to just scare us. Factually, SIDS deaths have decreased by almost half since the beginning of the "Back to Sleep Campaign". In communities with less access to such information (such as some of the rural villages in Alaska), the rate is still disproportionately high. I try to trust my instincts, but I am NOT a medical doctor. I have not seen and heard and been impacted or done the extensive, exhausting research that these agencies have. Facts are facts. I honestly don't think it's a confidence issue or a scare tactic. I'm not being judgemental, or lambasting a mother's choices, but I honestly think that these guidelines are here for very, very good reason.

Chrissy | 4:54 PM

...and "AW", thank you for your clear response. You said my thoughts much more eloquently.

Maria | 5:07 PM

I can't even tell you how much sleep I lost over the tummy thing. We live in a 1 bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, so the crib was right at the head of our bed, and every time Lucien rolled on to his belly I heard it, saw it and moved him. I also threw away a perfectly good, brand new bumper because of a damn article my doula shared on facebook. You know, something like "your bumper will kill your baby- tonight."
being a mother is terrifying.

Maria | 5:19 PM

Also- just finished reading all these comments and really wish I would have found your blog earlier-when I was a terrified new mother. The pediatrician told me I would basically smother my baby in his sleep if we co-slept. I wrote a funny story about it that I think you'll appreciate called "My baby is alive- amazing parenting or dumb luck?" It's on my URL if you want to see it.

Robin | 6:06 PM

And you are proud of this? Proud of not breastfeeding when every single study supports it? Proud of doing something that could contribute to yoru babies death, like bumpers in the crib and sleeping on his tummy? Perhaps you just leave your baby on the seat wrapped in a blanket because he complains too much in the car seat. This is why we have so many intrusive laws. Sometimes they only way to get parents to do what is minimally necessary to protect their children. They only do the right thing where there is a fine or jailtime for doing what is convenient for them but dangerous for their baby and children. See you in the princiapl's office.

Jane | 7:12 PM

I generally love your honesty but think you go overboard when you say things like, "but so is keeping them inside the house. When does it end?"

This is jumping to an extreme that makes absolutely no sense. There is plenty of caution you can take besides "keeping them inside the house."

I am over your bumper thing (although I still don't understand why you LOVE promoting it - it's just crib decoration), but I think you are flat wrong on the rear-facing car seat issue. The consensus now is overwhelmingly to keep car seats rear-facing until age 2 when neck control is sufficient.

Your decision about a car seat is on you (and your sweet, gorgeous children), but your sort-of brash, self-righteous attitude towards something so CLEARLY against a baby's best interest really befuddles me.

It's like you want your readers to be like, "Yeah! Fight the power! We're with you!" But these aren't random recommendations - breastfeeding, bumpers, car seats, etc. They actually have a reason, ya know? So can't you just do your thing and not be so reverse-preachy about it?

That reverse-preachiness touting risk-taking just gets to me -- it's so at odds with everything else about you and your mothering.

Heather | 7:14 PM

Word to that. At this point- the "right" way is the way that works for me and my family- not what some study said (or self-righteous parent).

I have given my 11 mo old son formula for the last 4 mos because I can't pump enough at work. I've kept it a huge secret. All of my friends are all about breast is best and breastfeeding their children until 3 or 4 yrs old. My child is already self-weaning and my milk supply doesn't support him anymore. I finally decided to hell with it. He's happy. I'm happy. We're fine. I love that someone wants to bf their kid until they are 4. Awesome. Good for them. But that's not our reality. And I think that's pretty awesome too.

Rebekah | 7:21 PM

My son co-slept with us (I gave up on him sleeping in his crib after the first night!). During naps he always slept on his belly. And, I breastfed but supplemented with formula.

I read all the articles, and asked the doctors lots of questions, and I made my choices based on a combination of what I heard from 'experts' and what I heard from my mom (who raised 7 kids!) and from my instincts. In the end, I did feel confident in my decisions, but there were a LOT OF TEARS getting there because I was so paralyzed by THE FEAR of everything.

Now, my second little one is coming in May and this time I could cry from happiness because I have given myself permission to be the mama I learned how to be through all the trials and tribulations with my first go round.

Thank you for your post, I could not agree more.

robin | 7:54 PM

"None of us are doing it "right". None of us are doing it "wrong". We're all just doing it." I love this. So, so true. I hate that as parents we're all so busy judging each other or worrying about others judging us instead of rallying together, doling out pats on the back and praise and "yay, we made it through another day" s. I'm so happy for you that you're babies sleep (which means that YOU sleep), no matter if it's on their backs or stomachs or doing a handstand.
I always put my babies to sleep on their backs, but mostly because I allowed them to fall asleep in my arms and if I tried flipping them to their stomachs they would wake up. Once they were old enough to roll over onto their stomachs, I would lay them down and just let them choose. I have an almost 1 year old who still sleeps inconsistently, only making it through the night without waking, at most, once a week. I don't do bumpers because that was just one more thing to buy, and I do breastfeed, but I'm sure I am judged for this, too, since I allow him to use me as a pacifier and have never used one of those oh so discreet (but not really) breastfeeding smock thingies!

Kim | 8:01 PM

I am still EBFing at almost 8 months, always put my baby on her back to sleep (until she started turning herself over), will stay rear facing until at least 2 years old, follow pretty much every recommendation out there BUT she cosleeps with us which made a well meaning, I'm sure, nurse tell me that I was "going to kill my child." In exactly those words. It was that black and white in her judgement. The nurse informed me that I just had to keep putting her in the crib and she'd figure it out. That I needed to stop being so selfish just to try to get a bit more sleep. Yes, selfish. Because I wanted more than an hour of sleep a week. There's a reason sleep deprivation is used for torture.

In our case, my daughter slept in her bassinet until 3 months and one day just decided, no more. She screamed if you put her in there or her crib, or the PnP or any other sleeping location. You'd think gremlins were cutting off her toes. We bought mesh bed rails, took the blankets off the bed and in she went... and I got some sleep. My dizzy spells from long term sleep deprivation stopped. I fully resent the implication that I am purposely trying to kill her by safely doing something that helped us to survive. I think sometimes people just go too far in their judgement.

The nurse made me second guess myself and worry to death about this one choice that we made. Then one day she told me that I should just hold the pacifier in my LO's mouth until she stopped rejecting it (because it would help her self soothe) and I realized that she was insane. Then I felt stupid for letting some woman who barely knew us and did not live with my daughter dictate my decisions and vowed never again.

There's moments when we have to decide what's the lesser evil. We felt that by taking the proper precautions, she was more at risk from a momma who was so tired she almost passed out numerous times then dying of SIDS in our bed. Only we can make those decisions for ourselves.

Sonja S. | 8:13 PM

Goodness, Gracious!! Can you people lighten up, and let other patents raise their children as they see fit?? I had my 2 beautiful girls later in life (32 and 34) and I probably more than once thought I knew what was right for other peoples kids.
Today at 35 years old with a 2 year old and a 9 month old, I have to do what's best for me and my family to get through each day, one at a time. And that has become my philosophy with other parents and their children as well. It's hard enough to make it through a day of poop, spit up, and washing all those damn bottles, without the added burden of everyone else's expectations.
Raise your kids as you see fit. I am doing what I feel us best for MY children. You have the absolute right to do the same for yours, bumpers and all....

LisaY | 8:39 PM

With my first, I had serious baby blues, headed toward PPD. Until I quit breastfeeding at four weeks. Fingers snapped--all of a sudden I was happy to be a mother. Somehow I think a depressed mother is worse for a baby than formula! WIth my second and third, I got judgment for pumping exclusively and I DIDN'T CARE. It worked for us.

I work in special ed and we always say that we may be the experts in this field or that, but the PARENT is the expert on their own child!

robin | 8:39 PM

I just read the rest of the comments, most of which are very respectful. Some are not. I totally understand the points of those who don't like the "I survived so it can't be so bad" argument. My brother is 10 years younger than me and not only was forward facing as soon as he grew out of his infant seat but sat in a seatbelt. Sometimes the same seatbelt as me. Of course I would never allow this of my own children, even though my brother survived it. Advances in technology have been proven, in many cases, to make things safer. But there IS a such thing as too paranoid. Someone will ALWAYS think of a "safer" way. Or a "better" way. And sometimes it is safer, or better. But I agree with you, Rebecca, when you say that keeping kids in the house is safer, and there HAS to be a line, a limit. And this limit is personal. Yes, follow the laws, follow the guidelines as much as possible, but also, listen to your own instincts. Wrapping our kids in bubble wrap would be safer and chances are, if some guideline recommended it, there would be parents out there doing it, and judging you for not doing it. Of course it's important to keep our kids safe, physically, but we also have to, at some point, allow them to grow emotionally, socially, and become individuals with the ability to think critically, who are confident in their own (informed) choices. If WE, as parents, can't do that, how can we expect our children to?

LindaB | 8:40 PM

I would rather stay up for a million hours than chance SIDS. That's just me though. I did ALL the wrong things to get my kids to sleep otherwise for their first 3 years and I feel some guilt but it didn't matter b/c my sanity meant more. Probably makes no sense but I did what was right for me and my family at the time and I wouldn't judge or fault any othwer family for doing the same. Nothing works the same for another and no one knows what some other person is feeling. Do what works for YOU, is my motto.

Rebecca | 9:06 PM

I love your blog, your bravery, and the dialogue you've opened. As a wife of a pedi and an avid reader and researcher myself, I completely disagree with the idea that tummy sleeping is safe. There's just too much evidence to the contrary. And I got lucky (I guess) that my youngest was already 2 when the AAP changed it's guidelines about how long to rear face. People in European countries have rear faced much longer than we have and studies show hoe many less babies are dying in front end collisions.

On the issue of co-sleeping I feel like the AAP is being a bit overly conservative, and I think the jury is still out. And, while I breastfeed, I also weaned at about a year (which my La Leche League friends my hang me for), and I can't understand judging anyone else's very personal choice, especially someone who is surviving the infancy of twins!

Anyway, I really appreciate that you've opened up a sane dialogue on this, even though I myself would never flout the SIDS recommendations.

Mommy of Two | 9:30 PM

So excited reading all these comments! I started with my son on his back and it was no sleep for us. So I started sleeping with him on me, belly to belly. He'd sleep great but me not so much. So then I got the angel care monitor after so much sleep loss and put him on his belly from then on. My daughter has always been put on her belly too. So many older generation moms think you are nuts when you tell them " Gee my kid hates sleeping on his/her back but I make em do it". I think it's nuts too! I talked to another lady whose baby sadly died from SIDS and guess what her baby was on its back. Honestly they just don't know why it happens. Sleeping on the child's back DOES NOT prevent it.

Anonymous | 10:30 PM

I get sooooo frustrated with the argument "We survived!". Ugh, we did, but lots and lots of other kids didn't and that's what these kinds of public health campaigns are for. Of course the large majority of babies will survive sleeping on their bellies, but a small few won't but could have if they'd been on their backs. It is a risk, don't fool yourselves.

Erin | 10:38 PM

Rebecca, great topic! Besides with my mom, I've never really discussed this with anyone because, like others have said, it's rather taboo.

My first son was born premature and we were bombarded in the NICU with warnings against him sleeping in the car seat, in a swing, in our bed, or on his tummy. I left the hospital scared to death (I remember even asking the doctor if it was okay for me to hold my son while he slept, because he wouldn't be on his back).

The funny thing is, by two months my son was happily sleeping in our bed, just so we could all get some rest. I was way too scared to let him sleep on his tummy in another room, but I felt comfortable with breaking the "rules" as long as he was within arm's reach. We went the same route with our second baby, but I often wonder if I could bite the bullet and let a third child sleep on his/her stomach so we could all get more sleep.

Have you googled statistics on this topic? Really interesting. Stomach sleep seems to be the hot topic, but stats show SIDS is much more likely in other situations, like sleeping on a couch or bed. Interesting.

Greer | 11:07 PM

I love your blog and overall I agree with you completely that you must do what is right for your family and you must make these decisions on your own, without regard for potential judgment from friends, family, community, doctors, etc. Don’t want to/can’t breastfeed? Who cares?? No TV before two? Eh, you decide! Crying it out or no? Up to you!

The rear facing and ‘back to sleep’ campaigns feel different to me though. SIDS rates have declined by MORE THAN 50% since the back to sleep campaign was implemented in the 90s. That’s a HUGE number and not something that I can disregard. Same with extended rear facing. Children under age two are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing.

I wonder if you and the readers here commenting in support would feel the same if this quote from your post was altered just slightly:

“So here's me admitting that no, I didn't breastfeed past the twins' first month of life and yes I SMOKE A PACK A DAY INSIDE THE HOUSE and yes, we're all okay. We're better than okay. We're thriving and happy and COMFORTABLY BREATHING (mostly) through the DAY AND night. And a lot of that has to do with breaking rules, forgoing statistics, ignoring advice, and doing what feels right in the moment.”

I put tummy sleeping and forward facing before age two in the same category as second-hand smoke (smoking in the house) and drinking excessively during pregnancy. You wouldn’t consider the later two, why would you consider the former?

Still, no judgment, just a contrarian (and long, sorry!) point to consider.

Anu | 4:39 AM

I am from India and cosleeping is the only way for most of the babies here to sleep. Making the baby sleep in a crib in a different room is still unthinkable and might be even unheard of. Still I have never heard of a baby dying of SIDS in India. I assume while cosleeping, parents constantly check the babies through the night reducing the chances of SIDS.

Anu | 4:39 AM
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maria | 5:28 AM

What about all the studies that say that co-sleeping actually reduces the risk of SIDS? I live in a Brownstone in Brooklyn, and both of my neighbors smoke- should I feel like a horrible mother for not picking up and moving? Driving is the most dangerous way to travel, are you a bad mother for even putting your child in a car daily? Sorry, but Rebecca is right- where does it end?
We are so inundated with information that everyone thinks they are the expert on everything- and disregards that maternal instinct is a HUGE part of keeping a child healthy and alive. Mothers made it for thousands of years without a modem and Dr. Sears.

Anonymous | 5:40 AM

Parenting is an instinctual craft and you are honing yours beautifully.According to pediatric standards at the time, my son slept on his tummy. Two yeas later my daughter was put in her crib on her back. Two years later my last child was put on her side with a wedgie thing. So much information is available today with a click,you can end up doubting yourself if you don't stay focused on your baby and not the masses.

Gwen | 11:06 AM

Thanks so much for sharing this Rebbecca. I have made some choices like these for my children - such as switching the carseat around. And people can say such insensitive things about it. I don't want any questions/comments until the commenter has listened to all the constant screaming and fuss.

I also did no bumpers and my children had their chubby limbs trapped in the crib slats, that was a lot of screaming, so we got 'breathable bumpers' and everything was fine. Wish I hadn't listened to the no bumper advice.

I also had trouble getting my pediatrician to actually listen to my genuine concerns/questions without spouting the 'rules' to me. Thats why we switched to one who actually listens and considers my genuine experienced questions.

Karah | 11:08 AM

SIDS is not the same as suffocation. In countries where co-sleeping is the norm SIDS is virtually unheard of. Unsafe co-sleeping is a big risk. There are many studies showing that a breastfeeding mothers sleeping patterns are very similar to her infants. They wake around the same time and it's been proven that a mother will wake up if she senses something is wrong with her child. Even sharing a room (not a bed) decreases the risk of SIDS. No one knows why babies die from SIDS. It's a terrible tragedy but the link between back to bed and the decrease doesn't correlate. If your child died in it's sleep they would say it was SIDS. Now they are recognizing it can be other things like suffocation. This also explains the decrease in the number of infants dying. Co-sleeping and tummy sleeping worked for us because we breastfed, slept with a fan, a cool room, don't smoke ect

I would also like to point out that just because we raise our children this way doesn't mean they will be in the principles office. My kids do very well in school and both are reading well above grade level and excel in math. They have never been to the principles office and their teachers routinely note how well behaved and respectful they are. Trusting instinct is not the same as being a lax parent in the discipline department.

Sharon | 11:59 AM

I love your blog and respect your attitude towards motherhood and I agree with the fact that each family has to do what works for them for certain things. But I work in child injury prevention and for me it is not about judging I cringe when I see a little baby forward facing when they can be rear facing because I have seen what can happen. I have been to an accident scene where a child's guts were still clinging to the seat belt that cut through him because he should have been in a booster. It is not just paranoia. The fact remains that putting children on their bellies puts them at a higher risk so does turning a child forwardfacing in a car seat too soon. It may not seem like a big deal to you because maybe you did it with your first child(ren) and thank God they are fine. However, I read child death reports everyday and in many cases these children are injured/die because well meaning parents did not understand how dangerous their choices were. My mom likes to tell me how we didn't wear sit belts when we were kids and we survived. But motor vehicles accidents remain the #1 killer for children because many people will not let go of this attitude. I spend my days trying to understand why kids get hurt and when I find the best prevention is simply getting parents to do x-y-z, it makes me sad when people take proven safety precautions so lightly. I have learned to accept that you can only let people know the truth and them let them decide. Which is sad because a lot of parents really don't get it until their child is in the hospital and they are depending on the so called professionals to save their child, the same people who warned you this could happen in the first place. Let's not be too cool for school folks. Its not about making you worry but we have knowledge then why not share. Finally, I breastfed my daughter and gave her a formula bottle even though they warned that she might have nipple confusion but in that case it was not a life or death situation. So yeah, do your own thing but within reason.

koo' | 1:15 PM

i'm from a big multi cultural multi national family where everyone has different ideas about how to care for babies. i have come to the conclusion that babies around the world are happy and health when their parents (esp) their mothers are supported and affirmed in their choices. (also remember, medical advice is sometimes stupid. back in the day they thought it was advisable not to hug your kids too much)

Shara B | 2:08 PM

I know someone who smoked during both of her pregnancies. Both of the children are healthy and above average for physical and mental development. In fact there are a lot of women who smoke while pregnant and give birth to perfectly healthy babies. I even had a nurse tell me she smoked when she was pregnant with her children in the 70s and they grew up just fine.

Should we ignore the Surgeon General's warning that smoking can harm your baby simply because a a lot of moms have done it and their child survived. A mom's instinct trumps years and years of research and proven studies, right?

To this day there are people who still think it's okay to give children medicine or alcohol to get them to sleep.


We all know that it can get a bit much with the do's and donts. But I think it is false to just say mother knows best for her child. No, we all need a little guidance sometimes. There are a lot of mothers who put their kids at risk because they simply don't know and they feel challenged when someone tries to correct them.

Don't just blindly follow your instincts DO YOUR RESEARCH then decide. The guidelines to protect your children from SIDS and crashes are pretty sound advice.

Keeping your kid rear-facing just makes sense. If I could ride rear facing I would. I would rather hear them cry than for them to die. I'm just saying.

Anonymous | 3:59 PM

What is wonderful about this conversation is that the moms on this thread are willing to admit that we are not perfect, we acknowledge this freely, and yet we are still proud of our ability to competently parent our children.
HOWEVER, there is a difference between being confident in one's parenting skills and being just plain blasé about scientific research and data. The reason that we do things differently than our parents did is because we have more scientifically supported data than our parents did-- we are evolving as a species and as a culture, and our body of knowledge is expanding.

Your doctor advises you on parenting practices based primarily on public health information-- this is true of the Back To Sleep campaign, vaccine schedules, co-sleeping, etc. It's statistics. Policies are made on the basis of what works best for an entire population over all, NOT on what works best for your family.
Certain issues, like co-sleeping for instance, ARE instinctual-- only you know if you or your husband sleep too heavily to be a safe co-sleeping family. We know what makes co-sleeping safe or unsafe, so you, as a parent, can decide what is right for your family.
We DO NOT KNOW what causes SIDS. We DO KNOW that the percentage of children who die from SIDS is dramatically reduced when children are put to sleep on their backs. Will every child put to sleep on their stomachs die in their sleep? No, absolutely not.
But if we look at this thread as an example we can see that a good proportion (what? 30%) of parents admit to allowing their children to sleep in positions considered unsafe by the NIH (co-sleeping, tummy sleeping, etc). And at least two parents (by my count) have lost children to SIDS. So, not every kid who has slept on their tummy, etc, has died. But some have.
It sucks so bad when your kid won't sleep-- we all can attest to that. But you know what sucks worse?

I am not trying to be preachy here. My 3 year old not only sleeps in my bed still, but she slept on my chest for the first month and a half of her life. But we have chosen to be a co-sleeping family with the understanding that we alone are responsible if something happens to our daughter, and that we have been fairly warned as to the potential risks associated with co-sleeping.
I imagine that most of the parents who have lost children to SIDS believed that they were doing what was right based on their own knowledge and instincts at the time. I can also imagine that knowing that they did what they believed was right at the time was not enough to console them once their child was gone. And this is why parenting is so effing scary sometimes.

(sorry for the long winded post)

Katie | 5:45 PM

Our little guy is due in early May, and because I'm married to a pediatrician, I can tell you he will be put to sleep on his back, we aren't putting up bumpers (our bedding set didn't come with them anyway, so it wasn't an issue) and he will be rear facing for as long as his little legs fit in that position. We are science people, we live by evidence, we can quote statistics until we're blue in the face.

BUT.

These are the decisions we have made for our own reasons, they reflect our ways of thinking and our opinions. And they aren't right for everyone, even though the evidence supports them. The evidence also supports me not eating cinnamon rolls everyday for breakfast while pregnant, and yet, we're going almost a month strong, because it's what sounds edible in the morning and I decided that eating and not passing out at work was more important than making sure that breakfast was protein heavy and light on carbs.

I don't know what I'll do down the road when the decisions we feel so strongly about are questioned or don't work out the way we envision them to. But I know that parenting isn't about having all the answers, it's about doing the best you can for everyone and letting that be enough.

Calypso | 6:04 PM

If momma's happy, EVERYBODY's happy. How does momma get happy? When baby or babies' are happy. Keep on keepin on Becca. XOXOXOX

Anonymous | 6:43 PM

I'm not a mother and I haven't looked up the research, but it just seems like a child would have better brain development, emotion regulation, etc. if they are getting good sleep, so that may way on the pros and cons of doing what works for your child.

AD | 7:04 PM

Our pediatrician was actually supportive of us letting our son sleep on his belly, in his words, "Once they're old enough to roll over, don't try to fight them if they want to sleep on their bellies." We also coslept until he was 4, which he wasn't supportive of, but on well. You have to make the right choices for your family. Some people can't sleep with their kids in their bed, I wouldn't have been able to sleep with mine down the hall where I couldn't see or feel him.

It does no good to judge other parents who are just trying their best. My mother is Swedish and I was born in Alaska in the early 1980s. She made me a down bunting for carting me around the Alaskan winter that was so warm she couldn't bring me inside anywhere, so she would leave me out in the stroller while she ran into the post office or store. If she had tried that now, someone would call the cops. And I was content as could be.

Michelle A. | 7:21 PM

Ugh. Moms. Such a doctrinaire group of women. I started putting my son to sleep on his belly at 5 months. He has been sleeping beautifully since (he's 7 months now).

If it's working for you, if it's working for your baby, it's right.

Anonymous | 7:51 PM

"In some circumstances, there are still good reasons for placing certain infants on their stomachs for sleep. Discuss your individual circumstances with your pediatrician." This quote is taken directly from the AAP website.

AD | 8:22 PM

To Chrissy, as someone who used to live in rural Alaska and worked in community health, I would guess that high rates of SIDS in the villages would have more to do with the extremely high rates of indoor cigarette smoking, FAS, parental alcohol abuse, and mold in homes than parents putting their babies to sleep on their bellies.

Becca | 4:38 AM

I believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.I breastfeed my kids but it last only 6months because it immediately dried.

LilMissMagic | 8:45 AM

To @Katie - The length or positioning of a child's legs is NOT a determining factor in whether or not the child has outgrown the rear-facing position in a car seat. The only determining factors are the weight/height restrictions on the seat (height meaning the harness slots and the distance between the top of the child's head and the top of the seat). I have a friend whose son is 3.5 and 37" tall and is still comfortably rear facing. Please talk to a CPST.

As for the rest of you who think that a screaming child is reason enough to turn your child around, please educate yourselves. Your child is 40% more likely to die in a forward collision (even if you are going a slow rate of speed) if they are forward facing. I would rather have a screaming child than one that was internally decapitated.

Jessica | 9:32 AM

My second daughter is four months old and is a side-sleeper, and we bed share. Exactly like our first. The first month or so her sleep was miserable for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest things that helped all of us sleep at night was putting her down on her side and bundling her up.

I love that you're willing to share your choices in such a public way. This type of honesty is really the only way that the collective "we" are going to get past judging one another for parenting practices and learn to be supportive.

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AA | 11:26 AM

If your instincts told you to drive your car with your infant on your lap (barring a massive emergency) for a trip to the mall/grocery store/school, would you do it and/or support it?

Back in the "olden days", there were no carseats and people turned out ok.

There is advice and then there is research. I don't highfive people for doing things that willfully put their kids in danger.

AA

Anonymous | 12:08 PM

Everyone warned and scolded me for co sleeping with my daughter after she was born, but it felt so right and allowed us to both sleep. Most of the warning surrounded the fact it would be really hard to transition her out. It turns out everyone was right. She is 3 and a half and still has to sleep with me or her older sister. I don't feel like I made the wrong choice at the time, but I do wish she didn't have this dependence that I have fostered. I just felt like weighing in because people made me feel so bad about my choice to co sleep and it hurt a lot at time when I was trying to be in survival mode. I guess I can argue both sides.....the comments did hurt, but they did have some validity. Love you Rebecca! :). --Jaclyn

Josie | 2:15 PM

I like your last sentence. That's the way I hope to feel my way through motherhood.

Josephine | 5:08 PM

Oh man. I was sending myself mad listening to all the shoulds and shouldn'ts when my son was a baby. As soon as I started responding to his unique needs and my instincts it was like a dark cloud had lifted.

Well said, Rebecca.

Anonymous | 5:38 PM

This is such a great conversation. Rebecca thank you for your honesty in starting this. As a parent educator and professional in the field of early childhood I do have some serious concerns with making such bold statements of ignoring research based health information. Motherhood is the hardest most selfless journey a woman can go through and trusting her instincts is so so important, but with most things.
The problem with SIDs is research does not know exactly why it happens, but they do know there is an undeniable correlation between tummy sleeping and SIDs. I think if mommies can keep being even a little more selfless we will eventually have more known reasons why SIDs happens, until then it is such a large risk. And yes many many many babies sleep on their tummies and live happily ever after (thank God) but there are no known pre warning signs for mommies that can trigger their instincts. Many intuitive moms have lost their babies to SIDs, but there were NO warnings. Intuition is NOT enough.
Rebecca I get scared because there is a much higher risk factor for premature babies, especially that are born at low birth weights.
Yes probably all of the women writing on here will never have to live with SIDS, but what is my BIGGEST issue is that Rebecca you are such a spokesperson for new moms. You are awesome and women all over the country look up to you. You influence so many. That is what scares me the most. One person giving the go Okay could be a dangerous thing. I am so proud of all of the mommies on here!! But lets just know this is the one biggest unkown issue in baby safety and lets just be extra careful,
anonymous

annafly | 6:11 PM

With my first son we tried to do everything the "mainstream" way. We made him sleep on his back, in his own crib, etc...I didn't get more than 2hrs of continuos sleep for over 13 months...i was a walking zombie. And not to mention that my sons head was flat on one side from sleeping on his back. When my daughter was born we decided to do everything different. From day one she has slept in our bed next to me, on her stomach! What a difference!! I've gotten full nights sleep since I brought her home! Her head is perfectly shaped! Her doctor always comments that she has the best shaped head she's ever seen on a baby! I believe human babies are SUPPOSED to sleep with their mother!!! Here is a very interesting article: http://neuroanthropology.net/2008/12/21/cosleeping-and-biological-imperatives-why-human-babies-do-not-and-should-not-sleep-alone/

Collie | 8:43 PM

I have learned that in spite of the umpteen years of college a doctor may have, the good ones rely on a mother's instinct. I have had 4 children, I kept them on their tummies because that is how they slept the best. All but my last one was hospitalized before they were one year old with allergies. My doctor said with the first one it was pnemonia, and I disagreed with him, bought a bottle of 7up, shook it up to release the fizz, and fed it to her. Within an hour the congestion had cleared up, the puking had disappeared and her fever was gone. I was able to bundle her up and take her home from the hospital. With the second child the doctor said 'didn't we have this issue with Marnie, and what did we do?' When I refreshed his memory, he agreed, changed the formula and sent us home. Mothering can be instinctive, it is watching and praying and trying. The best way to tell if, as a mother, you are doing the right thing is to find that still spot in your mind and think about the issue, then go with your gut.

Anonymous | 8:45 PM

Well, I put my daughter on her back (although she was fine with it, so that helped), and then had to deal with the guilt that she has a totally flat head. She looks fine now (she's 2) because her hair covers it, but I can still see it from a side profile when her hair is wet. I know that a flat head is a small price to pay for, well, an alive baby (if, of course, the stats are right), but I use it to make a point that the guilt NEVER goes away. There's always something you think you're doing wrong. Also, I'm a very strong believer that a well-rested baby is a healthier, happier baby. Whatever you can do to promote that rest, the better off the baby, and the whole family, for that matter, will be.

jess | 10:16 PM

Do what feels right for you. I totally agree that a depressed, sleep deprived mother is more lethal to a child than putting them on their tummies or swaddling them. No-one should question a sleep deprived mother of her choices.
"Rebecca" mentioned that in Europe people put their children in rear facing seats for longer. I'm not sure where she got this information from as it is certainly not the case in France where I live. In fact I was shocked when my sister in law gave me a bassinet which goes into the car. It's used for if the baby is sleeping and you don't want to wake them up. You lay the baby in their bassinet (exactly like a normal baby bed) and place it sideways on the back seat. Then you put the adult seat belt around the whole thing and voila! There is a little strap inside the bassinet to go around the babies tummy, but I was so shocked, imagine if you had an accident, the baby would be in extreme danger. But here it's considered completely normal. ALSO "in Europe" you are allowed to place the baby seat (rear-facing) in the front of the car in the passengers seat. Again I couldn't believe this because surely it increases the risk of death if the baby is in the front of the car. I told my French friends how shocked I was, and they reply "but it's so practical! You can see your baby while your driving." Go figure. Just goes to show that you can follow "guidelines" by the authorities, but beware that those guidelines are not the same in every part of the world. We have scientists and research here in France too. So who's right and who's wrong?

Anonymous | 10:53 PM

My son has pretty much co-slept with me since the day he stopped breathing at 4 months old because it's the only way I can sleep. He's 4. I'd like my bed back but I have anxiety from the incident when he was a baby still and spend too much time lying awake at night making sure that he's breathing unless I can lie next to him with my hand on his chest or feeling his breath on my cheek. One day he'll be bigger and sleep in his own bed but in many cultures beds are shared, babies sleep on their tummies or in rice fields or on the ground surrounded by chickens so we all must just go and figure out what works best in our individual parenting experiences.

Katie | 3:34 AM

AMEN SISTA!!!

oh, jenny mae | 8:59 AM

i broke all the rules i could. carried my babies all over, all the time(even the twins.) put them to sleep on their tummies since they could roll over anyway really early. gave them bottles when i didn't have enough breast milk. co-slept with all of them until it didn't work any more. what worked for me wouldn't work for everyone, but it worked for me! so i did it! glad you're getting some much needed sleep.

Jessie | 9:11 AM

I only wish I had listened to my gut more and tried letting my son sleep on his stomach, I might have gotten more than 3 hours of sleep a night for the first year of his life.

And, I have a close friend whose baby girl passed away from SIDS. Sleeping on her BACK.

I understand that there is some great research done and of course we would all like to do it perfectly....but realistically sometimes our kids are going to sleep on their stomachs, they are going to have french fries instead of broccoli, and they will be just fine.

This isn't ignorance here, it's just a fellow mom stating that I don't think any of us are doing things "not by the book" to intentionally harm our children.....but if every person is born unique, then why wouldn't we cater to that?

Anonymous | 10:31 AM

Rebecca, I had almost the exact same experience as you did with your mom. My son would only sleep with me for the first month or so, and in an effort to get some quality sleep I would try to put him down on his back to no avail. Finally, my mom was with me one weekend and put him down on his stomach. "But...but..mom?!?" I had a home birth and my very middle of the road, moderate midwives were very supportive of co-sleeping, but even they said unequivocally not to put him down on his stomach. That day he slept and slept. I was amazed and felt like an idiot that I had let the medical community scare me, especially when I had gone against the grain in the first place. My son has not slept on his back since. He got quality sleep and so did I, and this more rested mom was able to take better care of herself, as well as, her child, because (with the clarity that sleep brings) I became more in tune with his needs and, most important for me, nursing got easier. We got busted once by some friends who came to visit who peeked into the room while he was napping. She was pregnant for the first time and commented on his stomach sleeping, I just said that it was what worked for us and that I was conscientious about checking on him. She was not judgmental, I think just surprised to see someone "not following the rules". Other moms have tentatively asked about the sleeping situation and I answer honestly, and to all of our relief we find that MANY parents are perpetuating the stomach sleeping "tradition" that we were so accustomed to. It's important to not be irresponsible, but it's also important not to second guess your instincts, period.

No Excuses Mom | 11:17 AM

Something will always be "wrong" with what we as parents do. People just need to get over themselves and realize that "they" will always say SOMETHING is going to harm your child... but hey, I'm here and when I was a baby "they" told my my TO put my on my belly to sleep :)

Heather Sullivan | 11:19 AM

My daughter refuses to sleep any other way than the way she wants, which can be on her stomach, her back or her side. And I can't dictate that to her. I don't want someone telling me how to sleep if it isn't comfortable. Period. Since she could roll over at about four months that is the way it has been. She sleeps in our bed, so I'm sure that is way worse than bumpers, too...and she has done that since four months as well. You're right. We're not all doing it right, we're not doing it wrong. We are just doing it as best we can, one day, one minute at at time.

Aislin | 11:54 AM

My mother (who never provides much helpful advice in the child rearing portion of my life) said to me after the birth of my 2nd son, "No one knows your children as well as you do. Don't let anyone tell you what you should and shouldn't be doing. You know" Best advice she had given me in a long time! And he would ONLY sleep on his stomach. One of the hardest parts of being a mother is the judgement from others,including so-called-friends.

Vanessa | 1:19 PM

my 3 babies were born in spain. there, the current recommendation is to put babies to sleep on their sides, switching sides every day or two (mainly so that their pliable little head doesn't get lopsided and form a bald-patch!!). the midwives i came into contact with there were very open-minded, reassuring me that if they turned themselves onto their back or tummy (which they often did), to just let them be. worked for me!

Alex | 8:50 PM

I let my son sleep on whatever side he wanted to. And yes he also slept with bumpers. And he's alive & thriving

stephanieandfabio | 1:51 AM

Thank you for posting this. I just quit expressing milk for my four month old baby girl because I managed to shoo away the massive gray cloud of guilt that hung above my head on my inability to breastfeed. She was tongue-tied, she never latched on, my milk supply was limited and pumping 6-8 times a day was killing me. Then her reflux was so bad I began sleeping on her stomach and side, and now for the first time in 4 months I don't feel like vomiting all day from sleep deprivation. Another commenter nailed it. When you are a first time mamma you are so busy trying to do the 'right' thing you lose perspective and then you start losing your mind. I remember one afternoon trying to encourage her to suck with a tube of expressed milk taped onto my nipple and coming to a realization that I wasn't enjoying my baby. I was missing out on actual motherhood of now because I was trying to be the mother that mastered everything the right way.

Lil Muse Lily | 4:33 AM

Lily is now 2 and her crib which is converted to a big girl bed still has the bumper on it. Always has. AND.... I put her asleep on her belly starting at 2 months because she slept much better/longer that way. Whatever works, right? Right

Rachel | 12:01 PM

I just wanted to second the recommendation for angelcare movement monitors. My daughter came home from the NICU after 5 days and had no issues in there with apnea. A week later, the monitor went off 3 times in one night. It woke us up so that we could go in and check on her/wake her up and get her breathing again. She was on her back and in a sleep sack with nothing even remotely around her face. It happened after that as well. I got paranoid and only let her sleep in her crib on the monitor, but I feel like we had some close calls to warrant it.

- Kellie | 5:01 PM

Both of my girls slept on their stomachs as babies. It made me *nervous as hell* with my older daughter, and it took a few naps while I hovered over her to make sure she was still breathing before I could even leave the room but they both slept very, very well that way. I had them on flat surfaces, no blankets/stuffed animals, nobody here smokes, we didn't run the heaters too high, they were breastfed (combi to 10m with my older daughter, exclusive to 14m with the younger), so I figured that was just about the best that I could do. To *me*, sleep is super important - for the parents, sure, but for the BABY. Having a baby not get more than a few minutes of sleep at a time didn't seem normal or healthy to me.

The only thing is that I was always careful about telling another mom about it b/c what if she did the same thing, and the baby died of SIDS? It wasn't so much judging my parenting that stopped me as it was a feeling of personal liability if I am advising something that is against the grain, so to speak.

Kathleen | 12:28 PM

I do think parenting is instinctual - this led me to a few decisions with my son that my mom and MIL didn't love. You know your children best and if cosleeping, tummy sleeping, etc works, go for it, especially when it's an informed decision on your part. If you get nervous, you could get an Angel Care monitor (one of my favorite things ever)

melanie | 6:44 AM

when I was a newborn nursery nurse in the early 80's, we NEVER allowed babies to sleep on their backs....it was sleeping on the side(with a baby blanket rolled into a log shape to support side sleeping) or tummy only. Lilli and Alan were flipped over religiously. Things change-especially rules.

your family is beautiful....as is the dog. Do you still have a boston terrier?

Melanie

Kallie | 3:50 PM

Quite a mixed bag in this post, Rebecca. I agree that there is a certain degree of instinct that should inform our decisions, but your tone is worrisome as it seems to downplay the rules (guidelines, commandments.... whatever) as dogma. I'm not a strict rule-follower, I let my firstborn sleep his preferred way (belly) once he was old enough to turn his head (though I laid awake for hours every night convinced I'd killed him), but I try to give the guidelines a fair amount of deference because I trust they're not arbitrary.
I guess I just feel that there's a line to walk between being honest about how we parent and being responsible about how we communicate, and it seems like you're almost encouraging a blanket disregard for the guidelines whenever they diverge from instinct. I get that either side of the issue is a slippery slope, but the other day it "felt right in the moment" to run to the nearby grocery store for two essentials while my toddler and newborn slept in their beds. I didn't, and I sat at home for over an hour while they slept soundly, but that doesn't mean the rules were unnecessarily restrictive.

Every time my mom marvels at the safety laws her grandkids are growing up under and tells stories of us with no car seats, etc, I don't think, 'see! we turned out just fine!', but rather 'thank god we survived.' Parenting IS an instinctual craft, but part of our instinct should be to consider that some very informed, unbiased people have developed informed, unbiased guidelines.

(Also, a lot of these commenters seem to hang around really bitchy people. I belly-slept my son with bumpers and stopped breastfeeding at 4 months, didn't hide it from others, and never got these 'you're killing your kid' comments (not to my face, at least :)). Remind me to thank my circle of associates for not being total dickheads.)

Shara B | 4:25 PM

I have to second your last comment Kallie. It seems like a lot of the moms are hanging around very judgmental people. That is not healthy. However, I do think it is more of a guilty conscious--- they feel bad about the decisions they are making because it goes against the "guidelines" and they take every parenting suggestion as a criticism.

Like in Rebecca's case she had mixed feelings about putting her babies on their back so she felt like she was telling a dark secret by admitting it. But in my humble opinion it is not fair to disregard all of the authoritative advice out there simply because it worked for you. There are a lot of lives saved by following the best practice advice for safe sleeping and car seat use.

Anonymous | 1:27 PM

Don't mean to freak you out but I have to share my story...I started putting my son to sleep on his belly at around six weeks because he was MISERABLE on his back. I told the pediatrician that I was going to let him sleep like that as long as it was working. She agreed, but said "buy the crib mattress monitor". Well, when he was 5 months old it saved his life. He was in a deep sleep and was teething a lot. His drool soaked the flannel sheet under his face which so he wasn't getting enough "mixed air". I shut off the alarm without checking on him assuming it was a false alarm and I was still half asleep. I got up again right away and he was limp but regained consciousness pretty quickly once I picked him up and flipped him over. It was so scary.

Tricia Marie | 11:58 PM

I love that you chose to do this. Babys get crawling on there bellies when they sleep which develops thier brains. ADHD anyone? Since '94 when the Babies on thier backs started a hugh epidemic of autistic and ADHD increased. Among other things also contributing. Babies on there backs creates flat head and damage as well. Do a quick google search and see. I also found that SIDS is so general that it covers accidents, cosleeping, suffications,abused, shaken baby, sickness in the general grouping. A study was done that 4 days after a vaccine between 2 to 4 months increases SIDS, and 3 weeks after a nother vaccine the same. There is so much the medical community is not sharing with mothers. Unfortunaly some babies have health issues not seen and may die on thier bellies or backs. But babies have been on thier bellies for thousands of years until 17 years ago, Europe has thrown out the backs idea we should too. Its hurting our children.

Anonymous | 4:10 AM

Geneva, I love the woman comment. May I ask how you finally got your little one to sleep in his own? Tnx!! ~ Anna

Anonymous | 11:17 AM

When they talk about the decrease in SIDS deaths decreasing by 50%, its quite a staggering statistic. What has failed to be mentioned is that SIDS deaths were already on the decline before the back to sleep campaign was implemented. Also the death toll went from 1.2 out of 1000 deaths to 0.57 out of 1000. So while it certainly is 50% I think the scare tactics used by simply saying it dropped by 50% is wrong. Put the numbers out thereso we can see the real numbers.

Anonymous | 8:33 PM

Well no one is wrong until your not right. What about vaccinations?

Anonymous | 8:53 PM

http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/4416.aspx