As we have noticed it’s been hot this week. While the temperatures have soared and made for some sleepy babies in the day no doubt, I can guarantee that it has also resulted in restless nights for anyone with young children. For parents this means one thing: hello sleep deprivation!
We all know that it is safer for babies to sleep on their backs, feet to the bottom until they are 1 year old. This has been proven to help lower the risk of SIDS which for all parents, has the ability to strike fear into hearts at the sheer mention of its name. Think Voldemort but even scarier.
The question is what do you do when you get a tummy sleeper? With our first she had real tenancies to try and sleep on her tummy but one way or another we always managed to coerce her onto her back, albeit a weird 3/4 back 1/4 side thing for a while. This time though we have an out and out tummy sleeper. On his back I’m lucky to get 10 minutes out of him in the day and 20 at night. Put him on his tummy though and he’s napping for hours during the day (toddler volume dependent) and sleeping through at night.
Yep. Every SIDS fearing mama’s worst nightmare.
Off to Google I went though and after what feels like A LOT of scary scary research, this is what I found out: the big risks of tummy sleeping that can contribute to SIDS fall into three main categories:
- They can get too hot: to counteract this we ignore the usual ‘one extra layer to us’ rule when dressing babies and instead he has the usual vest and sleep suit for this time of year but he just has a light blanket. I can always add extra thin layers if he wakes up too cold (which is sometimes does).
- They can suffocate: this is a big one for us and it was only when he could lift his head and comfortably move it from side to side on his own that he was an allowed on his front overnight instead of just during the day napping. His crib is clear of anything except a mattress, sheet and blanket which is tucked in so there is nothing his face could accidentally come into contact with as he sleeps.
- They sleep deeper: the thing that makes tummy sleeping so attractive is of course what contributes as a factor to SIDS, as babies do sleep lighter on their back which is what stops them sleeping too deeply. However for us there was a difference between stopping him sleeping too deeply and just stopping him sleeping full stop. We luckily have a next to me crib and I’m a REALLY light sleeper, but I’m not ashamed to say this one scares me and I often stroke his head as he sleeps so he stirs. It helps that he’s a fidget as he sleeps though so I am aware of him moving through the night.
I want to say things like 30 years ago it was advised to put babies on their front etc but in reality these are just excuses. We simply do this for a happier little boy: on his back he’s tired and unhappy as he gets no substantial sleep whereas on his front he (and therefore we) are well rested and happier all round. We made this decision after careful consideration, a review of the other SIDS risks to put this into context and after MANY sleepless weeks. The fact still remains though that they are safer on their backs so every week or so we try but unfortunately so far, unsuccessfully. So in the meantime he sleeps well and I remain restless through the night due to fear and guilt as is the mummy way!
So are there any other tummy sleepers out there? Any hints, tips or tales to share?
Please note: I AM NOT a medical practitioner and these opinions are my own based on research and the decision to tummy sleep made based on what is best for our family.
Every one of my friends and maternity mates all have “taught” their child to self sooth either through controlled crying or cry it out. It’s not wrong but I just know deep down it’s not for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I get so tempted at least once a month as I hear about yet another success story and speak to another mummy who has blissful hours of sleep at night, but I can’t help but think at what cost. It’s that which convinces me to dismiss the idea as quickly as it enters my mind.
I’ve never wanted to write about it as I’ve never been able to find the right words to explain why I am so fundamentally against it without sounding like I am judging parents that use it. Because truely – I’m not. I’m a firm believer that every parent needs to find what works for them as every child is different and therefore the way we parent needs to be different too.
I read this post today though which articulates it far better than I ever could hence why I’m suddenly writing about it: Self Soothing: Why Babies Are Not Like Adults – http://wp.me/p2p2M2-1tn
If it works for you and you’re strong enough to do it, great. But I know I just don’t have it in me.
So yes, my daughter is 14 months old and yes, it’s still a very rare occasion when she sleeps through the night but for now we’ll continue to answer her cries in the night and just enjoy the early morning cuddles while they last. They’re small for such a short space of time and I’m sure this stage won’t last forever (PLEASE tell me this stage won’t last forever!!!)