A Constant Fear
Updated: Feb 7, 2022
Elias had been napping for over an hour when I got home from work yesterday. While I was making supper, I realized that he had been sleeping for over two hours. Rarely, he sleeps longer than two hours during the day. I started to get nervous. Minute by minute, my mind began to race, and worry grew as I thought of my son, one room away, asleep in his bed.
I shouldn't get nervous about my 15-month-old son taking a long nap in the afternoon. The little guy is growing and teething, both of which must be exhausting. I would love a long afternoon nap, so I should be happy for him.
I should also be excited for everyone else in the family. Linnea can play with her markers or paint without thinking about Elias pulling them off the table. Rachel and I can get a few things done instead of pulling Elias off whatever surface he has found to climb on.
Instead, as I chopped onions in the kitchen, I felt a fear that grips me every time Linnea or Elias is in the middle of a long, restful nap.
What if they don't wake up?
Preparing for the Twins
Throughout Rachel's pregnancy with the twins, we did whatever we could to learn about raising kids. A recurring theme was child safety. Knowing the chances were high that the Anders and Linnea would be premature, we paid particular attention to sleep safety. We went to classes, read articles, and watched videos on the ABCs of Safe Sleep.
We assembled the cribs and set up the nursery only to realize that one of the factors that might affect SIDS babies were cribs placed beneath the window - so we rearranged the room to make sure the cribs were on the other side.
We learned that car seats are safe in cars, in the base - but not outside the vehicle as a sleep aid. The adage is "never wake a sleeping baby," but we were sure to take them out of their car seats, even if it meant waking them.
We got nervous when our babies would get heavy eyes as we supervised them in a swing - and then we would take them out.
But yet, Anders died a preventable death in an unsafe sleep situation.
He suffocated in his car seat, which was on the floor. As a result, long naps make me nervous that I will walk in to find an unresponsive child.
Why is this something that I felt like sharing today? I share this story today as a part of the larger story that Rachel and I have been sharing since January 12th, 2019.
Practice Safe Sleep with your little ones. Every. Single. Time.
Last night, as Rachel was going through Facebook, she saw this picture accompanying a post encouraging moms to let their kids sleep in their bed.
What was written in the post wasn't the issue. I understand the desire to snuggle with your kids. I know that kids crawl into bed and sleep with their parents. That's not something I'm disputing. I wish this image wasn't depicting a sleeping infant in a risky sleep environment. I wish it didn't continue spreading the notion that this is not only safe but loving, when it's not the safest place for a baby.
It's not safe to have infants sleeping in bed with adults. The risks are too high. Unintentional suffocation is the leading cause of injury-related death for children under 1. Unintentional suffocation in a bed can come from a loose pillow or blanket or even from a parent rolling onto a baby.
Unsafe sleep also exists through many of the marketed 'sleep aids' that are or have been on the market. Fisher-Price recalled all 4.7 million of their Rock 'N Play's in 2019 after multiple organizations requested they stopped selling the devices as safe sleep aids. Infant deaths are linked to DockATot and Snuggle Nest as well.
ABCs of Safe Sleep
Nearly 3500 babies die each year of sleep-related deaths in the US. Some of them aren't preventable, but some of them are.
We spoke to countless people that were unaware of some of the essential elements of safe sleep. Viral photos such as the one shared above don't help the fight for safe sleep education. A few weeks ago, when watching an NFL game on Sunday afternoon, a commercial flashed to an infant sleeping in bed with the parents. My heart sank.
So what are the ABCs of Safe Sleep?
Alone - Keep the baby in a safe area (crib, pack-n-play, bassinet) free from anything other than the baby: no bumpers, blankets, pillows, stuff animals, or loose clothing.
Back - Lay the baby into the safe sleeping area on their back - not on their side and not on their stomach. When a baby can roll over by themselves, that's ok, since most babies roll front to back before rolling back to front. Even still, when babies start to roll, place them into the crib on their back.
Crib - Keep your baby in a crib/bassinet/pack-n-play and not with you or anyone else. There are all kinds of research encouraging parents to keep the bassinet in the room for months but let the baby sleep where the baby is safest, and it is by themselves.
I pray that no one reading this would ever go through what we've gone through over the last two years. I pray that every time your child takes a long nap that you can find joy in those times.
Anders Jungling Story in the News (Links Below)