Most parents have become aware over the years that placing a sleeping baby on the back, as opposed to the stomach, is safer for the baby.
This encouragement — that babies should sleep on their backs — initially came in 1992 from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It was a worthwhile idea — since then, baby deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, have declined by 50 percent. It is considered one of the foremost public health achievements.
Over the past couple of decades, parents have also learned that co-sleeping with a baby is dangerous, as a sleeping parent can easily smother a sleeping baby. This education also has resulted in safer baby sleep.
But there are a multitude of other safe-sleep philosophies that can benefit parents and keep their babies safer, one being the acknowledgement that parenting of a baby is a 24-hour job. As a Butte-Silver Bow Health Department expert said last week, “Help parents plan for the inevitable — parenting while exhausted.”
Those are the words of Dawn Gordon-Wilcox, an international board-certified lactation consultant at the Health Department. Gordon-Wilcox presented on safe sleep to a variety of department employees who work with parents and children, including WIC staff, home visitors and immunization nurses.
Gordon-Wilcox began her presentation by showing a years-old photograph of one of her children as an infant. The photo shows the baby tightly wrapped in heavy cotton swaddling — today’s recommendation actually leans toward laying baby under light, comfortable blankets. (I admitted to Gordon-Wilcox at the beginning of her presentation that as a young, exhausted mother, I was guilty of co-sleeping with my babies so that everyone in the household…