Does Your Kid Have a Lovey?

Welcome to the new and improved ADM Blog Hop (you can read more about the roots of this Blog Hop here).  Our host this week is Sara over at Fred-n-Sara.  Anyone can participate!  Just post on the week’s topic and add you link to the Linky at the bottom of the post.


Topic: Share how your child, or you, or someone you know, found and adopted his/her lovey and the importance of it in his/her life.  As a bonus, feel free to add cute pictures of your little ones with their loveys.

Aellyn does not have a lovey.  Well, I guess her Dad and I are her lovey if by lovey you mean that comfort item that helps them fall asleep at night or comforts them when they need it.  To fall asleep Aellyn requires my arm (that’s two blog posts in a row that feature my arm – how weird is that?).  She cuddles up and rubs my arm from wrist to shoulder until she falls asleep.  If she wakes in the night she’ll reach over just to touch one of us or say “Ahhhm (arm)” for a tighter snuggle.

I wonder if cosleeping kids are less likely to have a lovey?  What do you think?

Anyways, Aellyn is just getting into imaginative play.  Pretending she’s putting baby Stella to sleep or feeding Mr. Monkey.  I’m sure that, like best friends, she will eventually develop a special connection with a specific toy.  I certainly don’t mind this and can’t wait to see what it is!  Right now she goes to a different toy every day.  She’ll bring them up to bed with her and we “put them to sleep” next to the bed (umm, sorry but 3 kids, 2 adults…there isn’t going to be room for a menagerie of plush).

The really funny thing about all this?  There is a lovey in our family-bed – MINE!  I have a ratty, falling apart crocheted blanket that has been my constant companion since I was 3 months old.  Seriously.  It has been to Europe with me, bottom of the Grand Canyon, top of the Rockies.  It is more well traveled than either of may parents, lol.  Like a smoker I say I *can* live without it I just don’t want to!

So there’s a story of the child without a lovey and the 35 year old that still sleeps with hers.

Do you have a lovey?  Do your children?


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Drop-side Cribs, Penises, and Vaccines

Recently, the Consumer Products Safety Commission banned the use and sale of drop-side cribs in the US.  This certainly doesn’t bother me per se.  I’m all for making any child product safer.  However, this flury of news over the drop-side cribs is just so hypocritical!  This is why;

Drop-side Cribs vs. Co-sleeping

The CPSC is one of the loudest squawkers about the dangers of babies sleeping in adult beds.  Their campaign used the statistic that between 1999 and 2001, 180 babies under two died as a result of being in an adult bed. This statistic is based on an article published in Pediatrics that looked at all mechanical suffocation deaths during an 18 year period [Dorothy A. Drago and Andrew L. Dannenberg, “Infant Mechanical Suffocation Deaths in the United States, 1980-1997,” Pediatrics 103, no. 5 (1999): e59].  The actual number of deaths that happened in an adult bed during the 18 year period of the study is 139 or a little less than 8 deaths per year.

From the same study, there are 428 deaths that occurred in a crib or approximately 24 deaths per year.  Based on this I’m glad that the CPSC has turned its attention to the much more prevalent deaths in cribs instead of focusing on cosleepers.  However the number of deaths that prompted this most recent ban on drop-side cribs is 32 in 10 years.  That’s a little more than 2 per year.  So I’m left scratching my head at a regulatory agency that so indiscriminately decides to take action.

Of even more concern, one of the major producers and benefactors of anti-cosleeping propaganda is the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which represents about 90 percent of crib manufacturers, is ducking any responsibility for deaths caused by these cribs.  Here their rep is quoted as saying;

“When these products are used correctly, they’re perfectly safe,” said Mike Dwyer, executive director of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which represents about 90 percent of crib manufacturers. “Many of these incidents involved improper assembly. There are a lot of second-hand cribs sold through garage sales, thrift stores, and that’s a problem. They have missing hardware or missing instructions . . . Some parents and caregivers are using bailing wire and duct tape.”

So it is the parents fault.  And yet, cosleeping deaths are lumped together – regardless of if the parent was drunk, sleeping on a sofa, or other known unsafe practices.  Mr. Dwyer wants to push for better guidelines for proper assembly of their product but the do not under any circumstances want proper cosleeping habits to be circulated.  The only answer for unsafe cosleeping is to put your baby in our safe crib.

Drop-side Cribs vs. Circumcision

Recently there has been a move in San Francisco to ban circumcision. The reaction in much of the comments range from disbelief to outrage at this “intrusion” on parental rights (of course, there are anti-genital mutilation activists in the mix as well).  You can read my thoughts on this barbaric, and unnecessary cosmetic procedure here but the real question is why aren’t people upset that the government is forcing them to get rid of their oft expensive cribs?  It must be because the cribs are so dangerous and circumcision is harmless right?

Ummm, no.  So, there were 32 deaths in ten years due to these drop-side cribs or 2 per year.  The estimated amount of deaths directly related to circumcision is 117 per year.  Yes, PER YEAR in the US [THYMOS: Journal of Boyhood Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 2010, 78-90].  That means your child, if a boy, is 53 times more likely to die from a completely avoidable surgery than he is to suffocate in a poorly designed crib.

Drop-side Cribs vs. Vaccines

Vaccines are COMPLETELY safe.  Dr. Offit says so.  There is no possible way that children die due to vaccinations.  No. Possible. Way.

How do the 32 deaths in 10 years stack up to vaccine-related deaths?  Between 2000 and 2010 (to date) there have been 957 deaths in children under 2 reported to VAERS.  This database is self-reporting and estimated by the CDC to capture only 10% of actual cases.  But even if we take the numbers at face value that is 95 deaths each year in children under 2.  This goes beyond the debate about vaccines causing things like ADHD and autism.  This is verifiable deaths like Ian’s (warning: triggering images and story).

Christie Haskel also talks about the dangers of infant car seats vs. cribs here.

Once again, I’m not really upset that they are recalling cribs.  Good for them for pulling something that might not be safe but I’m just dumbfounded at the contradictions and duplicity of these regulatory entities that are meant to protect us and the media coverage of different “alerts”!  What is a conscientious mother to do?  For me, I don’t take anything at face value.  I read.  I read some more.  I draw my own conclusions and trust thousands of years of maternal instinct.  Luckily my children’s stuffed animals are pretty safe in their non-drop-side crib down the hall far from where they sleep.

What are your thoughts on the crib recall?

Frequently Asked Questions About Sleeping With Your Baby

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.


I often get asked the same questions about our Family Bed[1. I use the terms cosleeping and family bed interchangably.  I find people understand what I mean when I say cosleeping but family bed sounds like I’m part of a cult or something.  Technically, cosleeping is sleeping near your baby if the crib is in your bedroom or you are using a sidecar.  The family bed is what we actually do where Aellyn is right in our bed].  Aellyn has slept between my husband and I[2. Guidelines on safe cosleepingusually say that a baby should NOT be between Mom and Dad with the reasoning being that Dad will not be as aware of the baby.  I certainly advise  people to do their research, talk about it with your partner, and make a decisions that is best for your family.] since the day she came home (she also slept in bed with me at the Birth Center – something some hospitals will not allow).  We bought a cosleeper – a small bed with rigid sides meant to go between Mom and Dad on a big bed.  It only lasted about 5 minutes because it felt very unnatural to me for her not to be snuggled near my breast.  We trusted our instincts and did what felt natural.  Here are the questions I am most often asked:

When/Where do you have sex?

This is our most asked question.  I have to admit I find this funny and a bit odd.  I’m reminded of this great T-shirt that says “Co-sleepers Do It in the Kitchen” – love it.  Honestly I always think “are most people having sex in their beds, under the covers or something?”  I would say we had sex in our bedroom before having kids no more than 50% of the time.  My apologies to anyone that visits my home but couches, tables, stairs (a personal favorite), and the floor are all fair game for me.  And, I don’t consider us particularly kinky or anything.  I can’t say I at all miss “bed sex.”  As far as when we have sex – usually in the time between when Aellyn goes to sleep (7ish) and when we go to sleep (11ish).  Not a problem at all.  Cosleeping has not put a damper on our sex life at all.

What about naps and bedtime?

I’ll point your to the Guidelines on safe cosleeping from Attachment Parenting International on this.  API does not recommend every letting a baby sleep in an adult bed alone.  With that said, here is what we do:  Aellyn sleeps for all her naps and at night from 7-11 alone in our King sized bed.  We use body-length pillows to create a barrier to her rolling off the bed.  I’ll also point out that she was swaddled until she was 11 months old so we had less fear of her moving around.  This wasn’t without some fear on our part.  We had originally not bought a baby monitor because our house isn’t so big that we couldn’t hear her cry but we ended up buying one so we would know if she was awake even if she wasn’t crying.  We used extra vigilance and checked in on her often until we felt comfortable that she wasn’t rolling all over the place.  I can say we never even had a near-miss situation.  She tends to roll side to side but stay in one general place (perhaps because she is used to sleeping between us?).  We didn’t need to but I know some people also remove the box spring/frame and put their mattress right on the floor and pad the floor with pillows in case of a roll-off.  I feel we would probably have done this if we didn’t swaddle.

Doesn’t she keep you up all night?

Not at all.  The essay I wrote for the book Are You Co-Sleeping? Me Too! (to be published in June – have you bought a copy yet???) explains how I feel about night nursing;

My head has that floating feeling that accompanies the land between asleep and awake. The room is bathed in the soft green light of the cool-mist humidifier at the foot of the bed. Next to me, curled on her side facing me is my daughter. We aren’t touching but she’s close enough to feel her breath on my face. Beyond her is the steady breathing of my husband. He is also on his side facing me – like guardian parenthesis standing sentinel around our baby.

She twists her head a little and squirms letting out a deep sigh. It is time to nurse. Of course, she’s too asleep to know it herself yet. But I know. I pull her close and she latches on effortlessly, not even waking as she begins to suckle. It feels like coming home. There is an overwhelming sense of rightness.

Others would ask – is it hunger or comfort? Shouldn’t she sleep through the night? Will she ever learn to sleep alone? None of the questions matter to me. She is my baby and it is her job to take and mine to give. I give with joy.

Her suck is already becoming slower as she drifts deeper into slumber. I can feel sleep pulling me down too. The whole moment was so brief but so powerful. Precious. I fall asleep with a smile on my face as my breathing settles in to match the rest of my slumbering family.

All poetic narrative aside, I definitely feel I’ve gotten more sleep with Aellyn in our bed than if she was in her crib – even if the crib were in our room and especially if it wasn’t.  I was terrified of the early days of parenthood because I’d heard about the mind-numbing sleeplessness.  I just didn’t experience that at all (except for the first night before my milk came in).  The first few weeks of cosleeping I woke frequently at every sound or movement she made.  However, as time goes on you quickly learn what sounds to ignore and what sounds require attention.

Aellyn barely has to wake up to nurse so she falls back asleep easily.  I feel like if she were in her crib (we have a gorgeous crib that my mom and mother-in-law made possible that is the most expensive stuffed-animal storage of all time) she would have to wake up completely to cry and let me know she’s hungry – I’d have to wake up enough to get out of bed and then we both have to fall back asleep.  Aellyn never has to cry at night.  Seriously, think of crib-sleeping babies – is this ever true?  Now I’m not saying that the short amount of crying needed to get mommy’s attention for feeding at night is paramount to cry-it-out but how great that Aellyn doesn’t have to cry at all.

But, if she was in her crib wouldn’t she be sleeping through the night?

Yes, she probably would.  I just don’t see the value of “Sleeping Through The Night” that our society places on parents/kids.  Now, getting a good night sleep is important and every parent should make sure that happens for the health of everyone involved but I’ve already pointed out that Aellyn sleeps very well.

Getting a good night sleep does not require never waking.  As a matter of fact everyone wakes throughout the night and falls back to sleep easily.  It is a normal sleep pattern.  If she were in her crib she would wake and probably learn to go back to sleep.  With me, since I’ve chosen to embrace Reverse Cycling, when Aellyn wakes we nurse.  Many 16 month olds would no longer be eating at night and most pediatricians would say she doesn’t need to eat.

Reverse cycling is when a baby, normally either because Mom is not home during the day or the baby is too busy playing, does the majority of her breastfeeding at night.  When you read about reverse cycling it is often on how to stop it.  As a working mother, let me tell you I encouraged reverse cycling.  I would much rather Aellyn have only as much expressed breastmilk via bottle during the day that she needs to survive and then get her nourishment (both nutritional and emotional) at the breast when I get home.  Once she began eating solids we were able to switch to water during the day and she nursed only when I got home.  At 16 months she only nurses 3-5 times a day.  When I work she will nurse when I get home, when she goes to bed, and once in the middle of the night when I’m getting up for work (yes, I consider getting up at 4:30 AM the Middle Of The Night).  When I’m home she nurses a little more often.

If she were to sleep through the night in her crib down the hall I’m sure she would have dropped the night nurse and would only be nursing 1 or 2 times.  This (working mother plus sleeping through the night) is a common reason for early weaning.

Martyrdom

This isn’t a question people ask but I can often tell by the questions they ask and their responses that they think I am making some huge pharisaical[3. pharisaical meaning practicing or advocating strict observance of external forms and ceremonies of religion or conduct without regard to the spirit; self-righteous; hypocritical.] gesture.  I think this is often the attitude people think attachment parents have but it just isn’t the case.  We breastfeed, wear our babies, cosleep, and any number of things because it feels right and makes our lives and the lives of our family easier.  Martyrs need not apply.  The fact is that much of the “new” attachment parenting craze is a return to parenting roots.  Parenting the way humans have done it for millenia with the goal of living simply, smartly, and in line with their instincts.  You don’t have to cosleep – make the decision that is best for your family – but don’t close your mind to the possibility because it is out of the current Western mainstream.

I hope answering these questions helps clear up any confusion about what cosleeping looks like.

Do you have any other questions I can answer?  Cosleepers, do you  have any questions you are commonly asked?


Attachment Parenting International Carnival
The Attachment Parenting International Blog just posted their latest blog carnival, where they combined the principles of nurturing touch and safe sleep. Besides Maman A Droit’s super-awesome post, there are also great submissions from:

Plus guest posts on the API Speaks Blog from:

Thanks to Maman A Droit for the link code!

Should It Be Illegal to Bed Share With Your Infant? Indiana Thinks So.

Thanks to Annie at PhD in Parenting for making me aware of a recent Fox News story about co-sleeping.  I was able to track down the ad from the Indiana Department of Child Services that is meant to “encourage” people to put their baby in a crib.


This ad is positively outrageous!  Talk about fear-based marketing.  The fact is that many cities health departments are taking a strong stand against the time-honored[1. Over 90% of the world co-sleeps – see Young, J. (1998). Babies and bedsharing…. Cosleeping. Midwifery Digest, 8, 364-369.] tradition of bed sharing.  Handing out T-shirts like this to new parents:

Worst Onesie Ever

Despite ample research to dispel cosleeping myths and the proven benefits, the American Academy of Pediatrics still advises against cosleeping rather than acknowledging it and providing safe co-sleeping guidelines.  Some even believe it should be illegal.  This news story on a local Fox affiliate recently aired regarding the cosleeping debate:

http://witi.vid.trb.com/player/PaperVideoTest.swf

First, I am really happy with the balanced approach in this story.  Usually the media doesn’t get an expert like McKenna to show the other side of the story and I applaud Fox for this (gasp! it was almost Fair and Balanced).  However, they never show the real comparison of children who died in a parents bed vs. children who died in a crib.  Reminds me of vaccination trials where the placebo is another vaccine as opposed to an unvaccinated individual.

Most shocking though was this question.

What did 100% of the cases in the story’s sample have in common?

Would you believe C?  That’s right, ALL of the cases were in formula fed infants. This isn’t to say that the formula caused the death or that formula fed parents don’t care but there are some specific circumstances that can make these kids more prone to bed-related deaths[2. I believe that with proper education a formula feeding family could safely cosleep.].  The video mentions positioning and waking of the mother but also the frequent wakings of the child.  Formula takes longer to digest and thus those children sleep for longer stretches than breastfed babies and often sleep deeper – causing an increase in SIDS deaths as well.  Please note that A, B, and D are also dangerous situations for infants.

The other issue brought up in the piece is about socio-economic status.  Statistically, more bed-related deaths occur in poorer and often unstable homes.  Once again this is a correlation not a causal relationship.  I was flabbergasted at the health department woman’s assertion that she shouldn’t even have to think about different types of people.  Seriously? How do you serve a population and remain blind to the demographics?  I really liked the woman from the community program.  She, correctly, points out that ignoring the reality of the situations at home only drives these already underserved people further away from the services that can help them.  Not that Ms. Health Department Chick cares.

I’m just shocked at the lack of evidence-based advice that the AAP and various health departments are spewing.  This willful ignorance harms babies and children.  Did you hear the story in the begining?  I hear this time and again in such stories.  A mother brings her baby to bed as a last resort and falls asleep.  This is vastly different from the other family, who, like me, researched and then choose to cosleep.  It isn’t a last resort of the exhausted but a well thought out, planned, and safe situation.

By focusing ONLY on getting people to be afraid of cosleeping we don’t help save babies – we put them in further danger of unsafe sleep conditions.