Against popular twin bedroom arrangements, we decided to separate our twins once they go into their cribs. We have the space and figure they will be together for a long time and will always have a special bond. Sleep is important to me, not only for my own health and sanity but for theirs.
|Conrad sleeping safe and sound in his crib|
Our first two babies slept in bassinets by my bedside for about 3 months. Stella was in a homemade wooden bassinet made by my Dad nearly 40 years ago. With Hudson, we decided to buy a bassinet surrounded by mesh to maximize breath-ability. With the twins, Conrad has slept in Hudson's bassinet and we borrowed a second bassinet from Sean's brother. They sleep next to my bedside, in their own space and we use Angelcare breathing monitors on the bassinets as well as our cribs.
|Twins in their bassinets in our master bedroom|
We purchased double movement pad monitors to ensure we don't get false alarms. These monitors will not save your babies life or warn you with enough time to truly save your baby. I know of many SUDC families whose monitors went off and they could not save their children. What's the point then you wonder? These monitors give me "partial" peace of mind. It allows me to not have to constantly enter the room to check if my baby is breathing. I am trained in infant CPR which will help your infant while the EMT's arrive. With Stella, we were told she passed away quickly, sometime between 1am when Sean checked her and 6am when he checked her and found her lifeless. The death statistics have lowered since the "Back to Sleep Campaign" was introduced and parents have removed extra toys, bumpers and objects from the crib and put their babies to sleep on their backs but there remains no explanation or reason why these children, sleeping in safe environment die.
|Stella's empty crib and room after she passed away|
On that lovely note, tonight is the night. It's time for Conrad to jump ship, leave the master bedroom nest and sleep in his own space. You have probably heard before from professionals that babies should sleep in your room for the first year. I always wondered why sleeping in your room helps prevent SIDS? Essentially, as I understand it, being in your space is safer as you can monitor your baby closer.
I am not a professional, this information, thoughts and opinions are gathered from my experience as a Mom, SUDC Mom, question asker, answer seeker, researcher and from the time I spent in the NICU. Please run any questions by your doctor. I feel I am quite knowledgeable after living through the death of our daughter but want to ensure this is clear. We lost Stella at a very rare 19 months of age, with no cause or reason, the statistics are approximately 1 in 100,000. We continue to welcome new parents and families into this special group I am part of. A membership and welcoming no one wants to give. As a parent, I'm sure you take what you read with a grain of salt as you navigate your way through parenthood. With Conrad's big move, it brings forward thoughts of safe sleeping. I hope that others understand what a safe sleep environment is but to be certain, I would like to share what I have learned over the years. I have become understandably passionate about this topic.
The following are my personal Top 5 Safe Sleep Tips. As most think SIDS is rare after 1 year of age, it can still happen, please ensure your child is in a safe sleep environment up to 2 years of age - and beyond.
- A firm organic or cotton covered foam mattress - A firm mattress is essential to provide a supportive surface for baby to properly breath. I originally bought Stella a spring mattress but did not find it firm enough. I returned it for a very firm foam mattress. My mattresses meet all of the non-toxic material requirements and are covered in organic cotton for extra breath-ability. There are very affordable options out there. I do not like the plastic covered mattresses as I believe it increases the baby's body temperature lying against the plastic. I have a cotton mattress cover with a special protector pad that the hospitals use on their beds. When you have your baby, you probably remember sitting on one of these? I have them on each of my crib mattresses for extra protection. I also like cribs that have open head, foot and sides to increase air flow. My cribs have a solid back as they are convertible to double beds. For increased air flow, all sides should have the bars/slats. Also make sure the mattress fits tight into the crib, the cover and sheet should also fit tightly!
|Walker's new room (Hudson's old crib), with open sides and front. The blanket will be removed when Walker moves in!|
- Cotton Clothing - I do not believe in fleece sleepers. I've never truly liked them but bought 2 for Stella for super cold nights. The night she passed away was a snow storm and she wore a fleece sleeper. I will never put fleece on my children again - day or night. I do not believe it allows your child to regulate their body temperature and it holds the sweat inside. Body temperature is said to be a possible contributing factor to SIDS/SUDC. Besides that, fleece looks horrible after a few washes anyway! :) I also want to mention that I have been told by several NICU nurses that hats are also not safe. Hats can slip down over top of your baby's face. They are often times used in the hospital when the baby's body temperature is still regulating. My babies were taken out of their NICU isolets then put back in again as their body temperature did not regulate and cannot be below 36.4 degrees (if I remember correctly, it feels forever ago!). Remember, babies only breath through their noses so it is important the nose is not covered! I never knew this until recently.
|Conrad when first put into an isolet at Mt Sinai, wearing a hat to maintain temperature as a preemie (he was moved back to isolet that afternoon!)|
- Sleep Sack - I use cotton sleep sacks. I do not use fleece sleep sacks for the same reason as above. I do not use blankets as they can be pulled over baby's face. I also do not swaddle overnight anymore either (in muslin blankets) out of fear the baby will unswaddle themselves and pull the blanket over their faces. You'd be surprised how a newborn can wiggle around. You might wonder why some hospital NICU's swaddle and use butterfly pillows (to prevent flat heads for preemies)? They can swaddle and use special head pillows because the babies are hooked up to monitors and are continuously monitored by the Nurses. My babies were swaddled in the NICU and also wore sleep sacks there as well. The NICU nurses tuck all of the blankets into the sides of the bassinet if used. I don't bother with that and if it's cold, I would opt to putting a cotton onesie under the cotton sleeper and cotton socks under the sleeper for extra warmth if needed but how cold is your house anyway?!
|Conrad in the NICU. I requested cotton sleep sacks as opposed to fleece|
|Walker with his butterfly pillow (and tucked in blanket) - pillows only to be used in the NICU|
- Room Temperature - The temperature of the room, being too hot, is said to be a contributing factor to SIDS/SUDC. In the colder months, I like to keep our rooms at 68 degrees. I find if the heat is on and pumping at 70 degrees or higher, it is too hot in the room. In the summer months, 70 degrees is very different. If baby is cold and uncomfortable, you will know it. All babies are different so use your gut to decide on the temperature - I would suggest cooler than you would think! You can check baby's temperature by feeling the back of their neck. Some rooms run hotter or colder than others. I would suggest closing some of your vents to help solve this issue. We play with the vents on a regular basis. I find the rooms feel hot in the morning when the heater comes on and bumps the temperature up to 71 or 72 degrees. I find this to be too hot and constantly play withe vents and thermostat. We have a Nest thermostat which I can adjust and monitor from my smartphone. We love the Nest!
|Walker's swaddled in the Level 3 NICU|
- Monitor - A monitor does not increase the safety of the sleep environment but I have included it as it is a must for me. I don't work for Angelcare but find their monitor to be the best. There are tons of new monitors out there (some have a sock but these do not fit toddlers) that I have looked into but I like a double pad Angelcare movement and sound monitor the best. If you have a single pad (the movement pad that goes under the mattress) I would suggest calling Angelcare and ordering the double pad attachment. It will cost about $40 including shipping and arrives in about a weeks time. I have never had one single false alarm. With the single pad, I had many false alarms and we removed the monitor from Stella's crib for that reason as she moved around too much. We take these monitors everywhere we go. They are simple to set up and their parent hand set also tells you the room temperature!
|Conrad's new room with his monitor - mobiles should be removed once baby can reach/pull down|
Other safe sleep measures that should be understood and I did not mention include putting baby to sleep on his/her back in their own space (no co-sleeping), no items in the crib and no smoking around the baby or in the home. This goes without saying. Let me say, I am not a professional, nor am I perfect. I did a few adjustments to Conrad's room by putting his noise machine toy on the outside of the crib. I suggest you do your own research to ensure your comfort in your nursery set up and speak to a professional. I want to keep reiterating this point!
|Conrad swaddled up in his crib ready to sleep|
As I mentioned earlier, there continues to be babies and children who pass away to SIDS/SUDC, in a safe sleeping environment but if you are set up to be safe, then you are putting your best foot forward. As scary and horrible as it sounds, the rest is unfortunately out of your hands. I will always worry, it's only natural but I feel confident in the choices I've made for my baby and hope you can too. Moving your infant into the crib is a big step so take it easy on yourself and try to eliminate stress. I hope I haven't contributed to your stress. It's been a big few weeks for our family with Hudson moving into a bed with no breathing monitor and Conrad moving out of our room into a crib. I'd like to keep him with me for the year but feel we all will benefit with Conrad sleeping in his own room.
As I finish this blog entry, I check my breathing and video monitors and see Conrad sleeping peacefully and independently in his crib. Let's hope it stays this way!
Happy and safe sleeping everyone!