Yes, I let my baby sleep on his stomach.
I’m not stupid: I know that it’s recommended that infants sleep on their backs, and I understand why it’s recommended. SIDS is scary, terrifying stuff — and the fact it’s still mired in mystery means that there’s extra fear around it.
But my son sleeps better on his stomach, and with all the shifting recommendations about what’s OMG DANGEROUS!!! for babies, I’ve gotten exhausted by all the flashing red lights telling me everything is going to kill my kid. It starts to feel like babies are essentially to sleep face up on concrete in a cage. Bumpers? SUFFOCATING! Blanket? SMOTHERING! Stuffed animal on the glider a few feet away? Why are you trying to kill your baby!?!!
In some ways, it reminds me of Just Say No … if drug educators put something as harmless as marijuana on the same danger level as heroin, it’s easy for people to get jaded and dismiss it all as bullshit. With the amount of recalls, safety alerts, and unsolicited advice around baby sleep safety, it starts to feel like someone’s going to call CPS if I let my baby even look at a crib bumper.
Furthermore, it’s hard for me to know how to take these safety recommendations when the American Academy of Pediatrics still views bed-sharing/family beds as terribly dangerous and awful. Meanwhile, international studies have found bed-sharing can actually reduce SIDS. For me, I’ve decided napping with my baby isn’t something I’m worried about — but all the flashing red lights about how everything is dangerous make me worry that I’ll ignore a legitimate warning.
Again, I’m not stupid here. I understand the fear around SIDS. I understand how hard doctors are working to bring SIDS levels down through research and education. I’ve done my research, and read first hand accounts from parents who have lost children to SIDS. And yet still, I let my kid sleep on his stomach.
It’s up to each parent to calculate the risks and make the choices that are right for them. What’s safe? What’s dangerous? What feels right to you? I knew one mom who wouldn’t let her 5 year old walk to the next door neighbor’s house on their dead-end street. For her, the risk wasn’t worth it.
For my family, I feel like I’ve calculated the risks and decided that I feel ok about sleeping with my baby, and ok about letting him sleep face down. What calculated risks do you take?