When I first became pregnant with Nevie, I started educating myself on everything imaginable. Something that had always bothered me was the “back to sleep” campaign. For generations, mothers have been putting their babies to sleep on their tummies. So why the sudden rise of SIDS in recent years sparking this new campaign? Well, it must be that babies are suffocating on their tummies (all of the sudden). That makes the most sense, right? Not to me. What pediatricians and the government are failing to talk about is the chemicals used in producing crib mattresses. BPA, arsenic and fire-retardant materials, among other things are being used in the production of crib mattresses. If a baby is on their tummy breathing in these harmful chemicals, surely there could be deadly side effects. And there were. When the back to sleep campaign started making its way around the country there was a decrease in SIDS, because babies were no longer breathing in as much of those chemicals. Government-forbid manufacturers start producing mattresses without these harmful chemicals, instead let’s just tell parents their children may die if they sleep on their tummy.
This topic really got me fired-up when I first became a parent. It made no sense to me to put my baby on her back to sleep. When babies sleep on their back it creates a feeling of falling. They are used to being tucked away tightly in their mother’s womb. The closest way to recreate that feeling is to put a baby on her tummy. Also, being on their tummy aids in digestion. On her back a baby is much more likely to develop reflux. Many parents have suffered sleepless nights, because their baby just simply needed to be put on her tummy to relieve her little tummy. Babies made to sleep on their backs also develop flat heads and in some cases never learn to crawl, because they don’t get that much needed tummy time to learn to push up.
So what’s the solution? Some suggest putting a few layers of 100% cotton towels on top of the crib mattress before placing a tight fitting sheet over it. Another solution are plastic mattress covers with holes on the underside to allow the mattress to breath. And more recently, companies such as Target have started producing 100% cotton, bpa-free, less-toxic fire retardant mattresses at a reasonable price.
When you are a new parent, you worry about everything. The chemicals in crib mattresses shouldn’t be one of them. I purchased a plastic mattress cover for Nevie’s crib mattress. With this new baby, I’ll be getting one of the new natural mattresses and place layers of cotton towels on top of that, under the sheet. As a parent, YOU and only YOU know what’s best for your baby. If you sleep better at night with your baby on her back, then that is totally up to you. More importantly we need to raise awareness of how our every day items are being produced. One of the best things a parent can do is educate themselves. You can’t always trust the info being fed to you through parenting magazines and pamphlets. If something doesn’t seem right in your gut, then it probably isn’t.