Back to Sleep....another problem?

Being a middle-aged mother, I have not paid much attention lately to the current trends in childcare. My two are 17 and 20, and I hope to have a few more years before I get to be a meddling grandma. But I have heard, vaguely, about the Back To Sleep movement, that encourages parents to put their infants down to sleep on their backs as opposed to tummy or side, as a way to combat crib-death. When I had infants, we were told to vary their sleep position in the first few months to prevent flattening out their soft little heads, and to keep them on sides or tummy primarily so that if they spit up, they wouldn’t choke. But time and science march on, and that seems not to be the current thinking.

Then a year or so ago, I began hearing that babies these days are not rolling over, and crawling, at the stages that we have come to expect, and this was primarily blamed on never being put on their tummies to sleep, but also on being confined to infant seats and carriers. But all the doctors interviewed (wish I had a handy link) said essentially that it was okay if babies skip this developmental step. I was a bit surprised that modern moms weren’t concerned about this…baby books still list rolling over as an important milestone, and I can still remember the absolute joy I felt when my firstborn rolled over and started pushing herself up on to all fours and creeping…not all on the same day, of course! I talked to a few new moms who said their kids never did this…never even crawled…and was stunned that they didn’t seem concerned.

Now there’s this in the local paper and I’m wondering what else is next, and how come doctors didn’t realize that flat-head syndrome would occur, when every baby book since the dawn of time used to warn about it? (Sorry for my lousy link-making…I still don’t have the hang of it, I guess.) Any thought from recent parents, or others? Is Back To Sleep worth it?

This doesn’t seem like too much of a problem to me. As the article says, just letting kids have some “tummy time” and varying their position helps avoid it, and it’s mostly a cosmetic issue anyway.

My anecdotal experience is, both my kids slept on their backs, both rolled over and crawled and sat up at the normal times. They both had a little “bald spot” for a month or two, but no flat spot. (They’re 2 and 5 now.) And both of them have perfectly normal heads now. I actually haven’t met a baby who didn’t roll over or crawl, and so I’m finding it hard to believe that there are significant numbers of such babies. I’m not saying there aren’t, mind you, just that I’d need to be convinced that there are lots of them. Also, note that the primary factor, by your own description, seems to be increased confinement to seats and carriers, which would mean not enough “exploring” time while they’re awake. In my experience, any baby around the right age given time alone on the floor or in a crib is going to try to roll over. That’s just how babies are.

In any event, you can see some numbers here:

In my view, a flat spot on the back of the head is a small price to pay for a significant reduction in SIDS deaths.

If kids are less likely to die, (and all the stats say they are), then why should anyone worry that they crawl a few weeks later? It’s just not at all importnat in the grand scheme of things.

All 3 of my kids slept on their back, one crawled at 8 months, one at 6 months, and one at 9 months. Just individual varation.

After posting in a hurry this morning, I had a chance to talk to my boss, who has an 11-month old. Apparently the Back To Sleep thing is only for the first 6 months or 13 lbs, and only when the child is going down to sleep, not playtime. But her doctor said that many moms are so panicky that they won’t EVER but their baby down on the tummy, and they continue well past 6 mos. I’m still searching for the link about crawling…if I remember right, it wasn’t that some kids were delayed in rolling/crawling, but that increasing numbers weren’t doing it at all. There have always been kids who never crawled in the classic sense, but the concern of the article was that so many were suddenly skipping a step that was considered important for muscle and coordination development.

Of course, anything that reduces SIDS deaths is helpful…my own family lost a little boy back in the 50’s…I guess the concern I grasped from the articles was that kids weren’t allowed as much freedom of movement as in the past, and that the repercussions are just now manifesting themselves.

kittenblue said:

That’s pretty panicky! I don’t think it can be blamed on the Back to Sleep thing, though, at least not entirely. No one ever gave me age or weight limits on back sleeping, but I pretty much figured that when they learned to roll over, it was a moot point. And by that time, they were used to going to sleep on their backs, anyway, even if they rolled over while they were sleeping.

And almost every baby advice book (and my own kids’ doctor) made a point of saying that babies needed “tummy time,” to the point that I got sick of hearing it. I always thought it was common sense that kiddos want a little unrestricted time to lie on the floor and look at the cieling fan or the rug or whatever there is to see, and think about wiggling around a bit. My kids didn’t really enjoy being on their tummies until they could roll over, anyway, but they definitely had the opportunity to move around as much as they could. I’m not sure that being on their tummies is as important as being able to move around freely and experiment with different movements.

I can definitely see that preventing kids from rolling over on their own would have them skipping rolling over and crawling, but I guess I just don’t understand the mind that goes from “Put the baby to sleep on her back” to “strap her down so she doesn’t roll over.” Especially with the Dr. bugging you every visit about tummy-time. Wow. That’s paranoid.

My first son had no problem being put to sleep on his back, but my new baby HATES IT! Too bad. I will put him to sleep on his side, then tip him over when he’s out.

Once babies can roll over, the sleeping position is moot, as far as SIDS is concerned.

I have actually noticed a trend among some young mothers I know who are putting their babies to sleep on their tummies. They say, “Oh well, my baby will only sleep on her tummy.” Bullshit.

There is nothing worth risking your baby’s life for, especially a little crabbiness at nap and bed time. Take it from me, a mom who’s first child didn’t sleep through the night until he was OVER ONE YEAR OLD- you cannot die from being tired, and your child won’t either!