Here is the second and final installment on our infant sleep safety series. If you missed part one, check it out here.
- Pick the thing that’s bothering you.
Is it that you want to co-sleep because you’re so dang exhausted, but you’re afraid to because of the risk? Is it that you feel like you’ll be doing something wrong if you don’t get your child on a schedule? Define the issue very specifically.
- How are you feeling in this moment?
It’s important to check what you’re feeling about whatever the issue is and to honestly present it to yourself. Don’t base it off of what anyone else has said or any expectation that may or may not be placed upon you. These feelings are clues! Are you afraid? Conflicted? Relieved? Unfazed? Horrified? Put your finger on the exact feeling you’re having.
- What thoughts are you having in this moment?
The feelings trigger thoughts, and that is going to be our clue how to solve this. What sentence sums up what is in your head? Just like the feelings, make sure this is an entirely honest assessment and that you aren’t basing your answer on anything but what naturally comes to mind. For example, “I am afraid of messing up,” “I’m at the end of my rope,” or “I don’t agree with that advice I’m getting, and I don’t know how to respond.”
- What are you doing?
“I’m second guessing myself.” “I’m not getting any sleep.” “I’m fighting with my partner.”
- Sum it up.
Let’s look back over what we have so far. Maybe you said, “I’m feeling guilty because I am swaddling my baby who cries all the time because even though the AAP says I shouldn’t, it’s the only way she’ll sleep, and without it, I’m not getting any sleep and beginning to feel depressed and angry.”
- Weigh your decision.
To weigh your choices, put it to the BRAND test.
B – What are the benefits of the thing you want to do or are being told not to do? The benefits of swaddling for you might be that your baby gets some sleep, and that you get some sleep and relieve your depression and anger as a result.
R – What are the risks? The AAP guidelines say not to swaddle because the baby can become overheated. Think about the temperature of the room, what you’ve noticed with your baby already (is she sweaty at night?).
A – What are the alternatives? There are different sleep wraps on the market in different weights that might be an option. Maybe it’s that she’s having trouble just falling asleep on her own, and you could try nursing her to sleep before putting her down.
N – What happens if I do nothing? If you don’t swaddle, she could grow out of it, or you could continue to get no sleep.
D – It’s decision time! Based on the rational factors and your intuition/instinct, you can move forward with a decision.
So when you are bombarded with information and opinions from experts – from your mother-in-law to the AAP – remember that you are the expert in the field of Your Baby, and that the itemized list of those above qualities along with the job title of “Mother” make you uniquely qualified to make choices that both feel right and are safe.
Infant Sleep Safety Resources
- Infant Sleep: Expectations and Realities
- Sleep Sharing: The Family Bed
- A Parent’s Guide to Safe Sleep
- Co-Sleeping and Bed Sharing
Position Statements and Recommendations
- SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Expansion of Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment from the AAP Task Force on SIDS
- Nighttime Parenting and SIDS from La Leche League International
- Infant Sleep Safety from Attachment Parenting International