Monday, June 25, 2012

The Brief Life of a Universal Truth

If there is one thing you can take from being a first-time parent it's that, on most matters pertaining to infants, what passes as a universal truth one week is bad information the next. 

Women of my mom's generation are fond of letting you know that, when they had their kids, doctors were lining up to sing the praises of formula.

"No need to breast feed anymore mom, we've got this fantastic new powder. Just add water and you're on your way!"

As a formula baby, I can't say a single bad thing about it. I was a healthy kid and have grown into a healthy man.

But now, the latest research shows that formula advocates had it all wrong. Breast milk (You remember the stuff mom's had been feeding their babies since humans first existed?) was the way to go after all. 

Somehow this debate became less important.
I've heard a lot of debate on both sides of this issue and, frankly, I don't care anymore. 

Mrs. Blackwell made her decision on this one and I support her fully. (Besides, until they start lactating, I don't think dads should have a stronger opinion on this one than moms.)

This is but one debate. But there are oh, so many others. Cloth versus disposable diapers. No spicy food while breast feeding. Epidural versus no epidural. 

And now, the great debate Mrs. Blackwell and I are grappling with: back versus stomach.

For years, doctors and moms were all in agreement that babies sleep best, which is to say, most soundly, when they are on their stomach. Then the SIDS storm hit and doctors recommended that SIDS could be avoided by having babies sleep on their backs. 

In 1992 the American Academy of Pediatrics declared babies should sleep on their backs. Two years later, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Delevelopment followed suit. 

In 1992, 70 percent of infants slept on their stomachs. By 2002 that tumbled to 11.3 percent. 

And you can't argue with the results. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over that same time period deaths from SIDS fell by about half from 1.2 per 1,000 live births to .57 in 2002.

The trouble with this is    and it's a reality Mrs. Blackwell and I are enduring right now    babies don't sleep as well on their backs. This of course means mom and dads don't sleep when the baby is on his or her back.

The odds are very much stacked against your baby dying from SIDS if he or she is on their stomach. But why take a chance right?

It's tough to make an argument against making your child as safe as possible. However, it's entirely possible that the safety of the kids and the parents is put at greater risk when neither is sleeping a healthy amount. 

It's a good thing the kids always sleep when parents sleep.
Our little guy has pushed us down this road a couple of times but for the most part we've been lucky and he's a decent sleeper. But, some parents have it really rough. Just a cursory search of some parenting forums online showed me there are some people who's kids just won't sleep on their backs until they exhaust themselves from crying.  

How healthy is that? 

Nevermind how corrosive that is to a parent, their psyche and    most importantly    their ability to effectively parent and tend to an infant. 

I'll offer no recommendation on this matter, merely the one universal parenting truth in which I believe    ultimately, on questions like these, you know better than anyone what works best for your kid. 

And, if popular convention holds that you're wrong now, wait a week.

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