QUESTION: I saw something on the news about not letting your baby sleep in a crib with the bumpers and then something about not letting the baby fall asleep in the car seat. I see so many things about the dangers of this or the peril of that, it makes me almost paralyzed with fear that I’m going to do something wrong and hurt my baby. Am I the only one who feels this way?
BBB: We certainly do live in a time that is filled with cautions and admonitions about what parents should and shouldn’t do, what is safe and what isn’t. Any new mother could be paralyzed by the fear of doing the wrong thing at every turn of her day.
Without wanting to sound cavalier, remember that babies have thrived and grown to become healthy adults for years and years and years before we knew any of this. It’s pretty likely yours will, too.
That said, if there is a safety hazard, of course we all want to know about it. Let’s do the best we can without making ourselves—or our children—debilitatingly paranoid.
Sleep is one of those areas where we parents have to give up some control. That makes it all the scarier. We cannot be there to protect the child through her every snore.
Experts tell us that having soft, squishy things in a child’s bed is not a good idea. Why? The infant could accidentally be smothered if she covers her face, impeding her breathing. That’s an easy one to fix.
The discovery of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) has also put parents on high alert when it comes to an infant’s sleep. Some infants have irregular breathing function and patterns and need to be supervised with mechanisms that monitor their breathing.
Babies used to be put to bed on their stomachs. Never today! Unable to control a baby’s movements and breathing away from us when sleeping, we do everything we can to ensure safe and thorough sleep.
But sleeping in the car, the stroller, the carrier…wherever, is just not something you can control. It is going to happen. You cannot control when, how or if your baby falls asleep.
Please don’t beat yourself up. You can set her up to be an independent, regular sleeper.
The idea is to put your child in the position to develop consistent sleep patterns and schedules. Regular sleep time(s) in her own bed is the best plan.
But, let’s be honest, that just doesn’t happen all the time. Life gets in the way—appointments, car pools and sibling issues sabotage the best of intentions.
I believe the most you can do is give it your best shot and know that there is no such thing as perfection.
You seem to be a great candidate for a Parent and Me sort of group. There are many of them all over the place here on the Westside of Los Angeles—Babygroup, Sleepy Planet and The Pump Station are three that come to mind.
There are many others; some are part of local preschools, pediatricians’ offices, even public parks.
Start asking around, including asking your pediatrician and the hospital at which you gave birth. Many of us in the Palisades belong to Nextdoor@nextdoor.com for specific neighborhoods. These, too, are great resources for finding information like this.
In the parenting group, you will find out not only that you are not alone, but you will also meet other moms and dads whose ideas and support will be useful.
Betsy Brown Braun, M.A. is a Child Development and Behavior Specialist (infants to teens), a Parent Educator and Multiple Birth Parenting Specialist. Betsy consults with parents privately, runs parenting groups, seminars and workshops for parents, teachers and other professionals. She is the author of the bestselling “Just Tell Me What to Say” and has been featured on the “Today Show.” Betsy and Ray Braun, Palisades residents for 38 years, are the parents of adult triplets and have five grandchildren, so far. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at betsybrownbraun.com. To submit your parenting questions, email email@example.com.