My first memory is of my father telling me my sister was dead.
I was about to turn five, and I can still see the path he took through our backyard as he carried me and whispered in my ear as we both cried.
Everything else about my life from that time that I can recall is related to her -that she loved baths, that she loved our dad, and that she smelled really amazing -a mix of natural baby smells and this soap my mom used on her hair.
Later I learned that she died from SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, a phenomenon that claims about 2,000 babies a year in the United States alone.
Many years later when I became a parent, my experience with her continued to impact my life.
I worried incessantly about baby sleep safety.
I couldn’t sleep away from my children when they were infants. I kept them as near to me as possible so I could monitor their breathing. I’d often awake in a full panic if I drifted off and realized they’d also been sleeping for some time.
New mom life is exhausting, but imagine not being able to capitalize on that age old advice everyone gives you about sleeping when the baby was sleeping because you were too afraid to actually sleep when the baby was sleeping. I was sleepy. So. So. Sleepy.
I know countless moms who experience this anxiety about sleeping babies, but I am certain my personal experience impacted my ability to adjust to new motherhood in special ways.
I truly don’t want any other mother to have this experience.
I know what losing a child does to a mother, what going to sleep after tucking in your healthy, happy baby one evening only to wake up to your worst nightmare looks like -what it does to a person, what it does to a family.
That’s why, when I heard about the baby boxes and the new study data that supports their utility, I wanted to ignore the fact that I am deathly afraid of heights, climb to the top of the nearest building and shout it out to mothers everywhere: YOU CAN SAVE YOUR BABIES!
Alas, it is 2017 and the Internet is probably a much better option anyway.
3 Things You Need to Know About SIDS and Baby Sleep Safety
SIDS is a Real Risk
More than 2,000 babies died from SIDS in 2010, the last year for which data is available. It is also the leading cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year. Some babies are more at risk than others from SIDS. Those who sleep on their stomachs, or live in homes where people smoke, for example, are at greater risk than children not in these situations. While SIDS deaths have been steadily decreasing since 1994, too many children are still lost to this syndrome.
You Can Reduce Your Baby’s SIDS Risk
Doctors don’t know quite why SIDS happens, but they do know that there are some things that can help prevent it. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you practice baby sleep safety. Remember the following…
- Always put your baby down to sleep on her back.
- Put baby down to sleep on a firm, clutter free surface -no bumpers, no blankets, no stuffed animals, no nothing.
- Consider breastfeeding.
- Keep baby in your room at night, but not in your bed.
- Don’t smoke, or allow others to smoke, around your baby.
- Give baby a pacifier while napping.
You can find out more by checking the American Academy of Pediatrics Safe Sleep Recommendations.
Where Your Baby Sleeps Matters
Research has found that baby mattresses may be a real part of the problem.
Crib mattresses are mostly covered with PVC (vinyl), a known human carcinogen. It has been associated with causing such problems as cancer, birth defect, diabetes, and more.
When combined and introduced into the sleep environment of a newborn baby with an immature immune system and the results can be fatal.
This is what researchers continue to explore.
Originally coined the “toxic gas hypothesis” by BA Richardson and his colleague, PR Mitchell, they argued that these chemicals, when mixed with common household fungi, create a gas that can be fatal to infants.
Changing baby’s sleep environment.
Wholesome Linen, an organic baby product line, is working to be part of the solution.
Their organic woven Moses baskets, flax tow mattress pads, linen mattress covers, and waxed linen sheet sets that make up their “End SIDS’ Newborn Moses Basket Bassinet Set” do not contain any of the toxic chemicals found in other crib mattresses. Instead, they are made with hypoallergenic, anti-bacterial, anti-fugal & anti-microbial materials and stuffed with flax tow. The basket also includes a linen sleep sack/wearable blanket which is designed to help regulate baby’s temperature while sleeping, as recommend by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
As a mom, I see this as one more way we can be proactive about keeping our babies safe.
You can get your own “End SIDS” Newborn Moses Basket Bassinet Set via the Wholesome Linen website. The company will also donate a Moses Basket and Mattress Pad to an expecting mother in need for every Premium ‘Give Back’ Newborn Moses Basket Bassinet Set that they sell.