Walk into any OB/GYN or pediatrician's office and you're likely to see a poster that urges parents to place their babies on their backs when they go to sleep to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Or Google SIDS and you're likely to come across article after article -- many written by professionals -- recommending babies don't sleep on their tummies or on their sides to prevent this very tragic thing. But in spite of the efforts of the American Pediatric Academy and various child advocacy groups, new research has found that about 30 percent of infants still don't sleep on their backs.
According to the National Infant Sleep Position Study, the "Back to Sleep" campaign, which was first introduced 20 years ago, increased baby back sleep from from 13 percent in 1992 to 72 percent in 2001, and at the same time, reports of SIDS were cut in half. But research is now showing that, partly because some parents are worried about babies choking on spit-up (something that should not happen), babies are being placed on their bellies or sides to sleep.
A little terrifying.
When it comes to our babies, no one knows them as well as we do -- not even a doctor with a fancy degree. I'm a big believer in following our guts (IE, maternal instinct) when it comes to parenting and not always blindly doing what the pediatrician tells us to do. But when it can potentially be a matter of life and death, and there are numerous studies backing it up, shouldn't we, as parents, heed doctors' advice? Isn't that the smart, responsible thing to do? Why chance something like that?
Parenting, like many relationships, is about compromise. Things don't always go as we'd like them to or as we think they should. We may know that our child would sleep perfectly soundly on their stomachs or be nervous about them choking on spit-up, but we need to take it a step further in a situation like this. Come to terms with our limitations and knowledge and accept the fact that, in this case, doctor knows best, not mom.
Of course, maternal instinct and gut feelings play a huge role in motherhood -- as they should; they are often right. But a good parent knows when to set their thoughts and philosophies aside in favor of professional advice when necessary. Especially when a child's life is at stake.
Have you ever let your baby sleep on their belly?
Image via Oleg Sidorenko/Flickr