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The Dangers of Crib Bumpers

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When our first son was born I remember debating whether or not to put bumpers on his crib.  I liked the way they matched the sheets.  And the displays in the store always looked so nice.  But then I started to read stuff about the suffocation dangers of bumpers.  I found mixed information, and our pediatrician didn’t have a strong opinion.  So I got suckered into buying the bumpers.  I stopped using them, however,  as soon as I realized they obstructed my view of the baby.

Since then, the data has become much more clear.  And now The Consumer Product Safety Commission is taking a closer look at bumpers and other sleep products.  From the NYT:

Three years ago, Dr. Bradley Thach, a professor of pediatrics at Washington University in St. Louis, published findings that had the potential to upend nurseries across the nation, and perhaps save some lives too.

Dr. Bradley Thach’s findings about the dangers of crib bumpers are now getting a second look by the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

In reviewing data from the Consumer Products Safety Commission, Dr. Thach concluded that crib bumpers — the padding wrapped around the inside of a crib that often matches the bedding—were killing babies. In a 10-year period beginning in 1995, he found 27 suffocation deaths involving bumper pads, and he theorized that many more might have occurred because of inconsistencies in the data.

“Because bumpers can cause death, we conclude that they should not be used,” he warned.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission initially ignored the findings. Last summer, it reached the same conclusion as a trade group representing product manufacturers, which asserted that other factors, like a crib crowded with pillows or babies sleeping on their stomachs, might have been a factor in those deaths, rather than the bumpers. As a result, most parents remained unaware of the debate over the safety of crib bumpers.

Now, prompted by consumer advocates and news reports highlighting potential dangers, the commission has reversed itself and decided to take a deeper look at crib bumpers as part of a broader regulatory crackdown on the hazards of an extensive line of baby sleep products that have been blamed for more injuries and deaths…

Breastfeeding and Mom’s Sleep

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Babies don’t sleep through the night.  They just don’t.  Parents never get any sleep.  And that is never going to change.

I’ve often heard people claim that breastfeeding moms get the least amount of sleep because they have to wake up to breastfeed.  But that just didn’t ring true with my experience.  If I had been bottle feeding, I would have had to get up anyway.  I would have had to get out of bed, make the formula, stumble back to the bedroom… all with a screaming child.  Yes, my husband could have done some feedings, but there was little chance I was going to sleep through that.

So I wasn’t surprised to see the results of a new study which found that moms who breastfeed are not losing any more sleep than moms who formula feed.  Here’s a link to the study in the journal Pediatrics. And from Reuters:

Contradicting the suspicion that breastfeeding moms get less sleep, the results represent “good information to be able to tell women, (that) ‘not breastfeeding is not going to help you get better sleep,’” study author Dr. Hawley Montgomery-Downs of West Virginia University told Reuters Health. “And the benefits (of breastfeeding) for both mom and baby are tremendous.”…

There has been an “urban myth” that women who breastfeed get less sleep, Montgomery-Downs noted, which may cause some to hesitate to do so. Caring for a newborn is challenging enough, without being sleep-deprived, and some research has even suggested poor sleep after childbirth may increase the risk of postpartum depression…

When Montgomery-Downs and her colleagues asked 80 new mothers to report how often they woke up and how rested they felt, and to wear sensors that measured how long and efficiently they slept, they found no significant differences between those who relied on breastfeeding, formula, or both. They report their findings in the journal Pediatrics…This suggests that “there may be some kind of compensation” for breastfeeding mothers, Montgomery-Downs said in an interview.

For instance, babies who breastfeed may wake up more (and wake up their parents more), but those nighttime feedings may have less of an impact than if they were drinking formula, she suggested. In order to prepare a bottle, women often have to get up, turn on the lights, and move around quite a bit, all of which may make it harder for them to go back to sleep.

Alternatively, when breastfeeding, women may be awake for shorter intervals, and be less active, which makes it easier for them to go back to sleep. Women who breastfeed also have higher levels of the hormone prolactin, which facilitates sleep, Montgomery-Downs noted. And if the babies are sleeping next to the mothers, they may feed while the mother is sleeping, she added.