This is something neither I nor my partner ever believed we would do. Prior to having children we were in the mindset that having your baby sleep in your “adult” bed was rather weird, not appropriate and possibly dangerous. It’s amazing how much can change in the first few months of becoming a parent. I also knew, prior to our daughter being born, that I wanted to use cloth nappies but didn’t know I would cope with it so well and now be an avid advocate for them.
When I think back on my views on co-sleeping, I am unsure what all of my arguments were concerning this option for sleeping arrangements. I know one of them was the regular, “Where do you have sex?” kind of inane arguments. There are many options on the, as Dr. Sheldon Cooper often says, “coitus” front. I have no reason why I ever believed this was a sensible argument and I cannot recall a single worthwhile argument I had, possibly flawed safety arguments. It seems to all have been cultural beliefs and feelings towards this practice and not critical argument.
If you look at this method of parenting sensibly, it’s hard to come to a conclusion other than there being very little problem with it. It’s a perfectly natural and normal situation. Why in our culture do we view a baby sleeping next to it’s mother strange but a baby sleeping in a separate room in a wooden box as completely reasonable? Why is it not seen as a form of neglect to leave your children in another room by themselves with the “comfort”of a toy and a night light? Many non-western people would probably call it neglect and frown upon it. I am not suggesting that this is a negligent and problematic way to have your baby sleep. I’m just wondering why this is normal and sleeping with your baby is weird.
This isn’t exactly an argument in favour of co-sleeping but it is something I am enjoying immensely. I love waking up in the morning to my daughter wanting to play, this mostly occurs on the weekend when we can sleep in and wake together. She will climb all over me, smiling and laughing. It is an incredibly nice way of waking up. This is also similar at night before she goes to sleep. Sometimes she just wants to crawl around and poke you in the face and laugh until she eventually falls asleep with her feet in your face and her head against her mothers. These behaviours at times can be annoying but I believe the positives well outweigh the negatives.
There are lots of claims that co-sleeping reduces the incidence of SIDS. I came across some articles by Dr. James McKenna that make this claim. Although he makes a fairly reasonable argument in favour of co-sleeping reducing SIDS it seems to be correlation and not causation. He makes the argument that, “In Japan where co-sleeping and breastfeeding (in the absence of maternal smoking) is the cultural norm, rates of the sudden infant death syndrome are the lowest in the world.” Making the statement that it is the “lowest in the world” is simply not true. There are other countries with an equal or lower rate than Japan i.e. Hungary, Netherlands and Finland. These are also countries that, I am guessing, do not have high rates of co-sleeping in the form of bed sharing. It is possible that these countries do have high rates of co-sleeping where the baby is in the same room as the mother but I can’t find any information about this.
It needs to be stated that bed sharing is not for everyone. It is also something you should not do as a whim. It is best to research and look at the safest approach to bed sharing, as there are many risks involved when sharing your bed with a baby. Dr. James McKenna does state this in his article that I previously mentioned. He makes a good point in favour of it also, “Whether involving cribs or adult beds, risky sleep practices leading to infant deaths are more likely to occur when parents lack access to safety information, or if they are judged to be irresponsible should they choose to follow their own and their infants’ biological predilections to bedshare, or if public health messages are held back on brochures and replaced by simplistic and inappropriate warnings saying “just never do it.” Such recommendations misrepresent the true function and biological significance of the behaviors, and the critical extent to which dangerous practices can be modified, and they dismiss the valid reasons why people engage in the behavior in the first place.”
If we were to make it acceptable in our society, as it is something that feels natural (to me), we could have the safety information available to everyone who is expecting a baby. This should help reduce infant deaths by asphyxiation since parents will have the knowledge of how to sleep safely with their babies.
There might be no solid evidence to point to co-sleeping as being the best option for the development of babies. There is also no evidence to say that it is not. There is absolutely no reason at all for sleeping with your baby to be thought of as strange. If it works for you, I believe you should do it. You need to remember to be sensible about it and take precautions in the same way you would if your baby was sleeping in a cot, e.g. no pillow or soft toys.
I do not understand why so many people believe that using cloth nappies is a huge chore. So there is a bit of extra work involved and some contact with baby excretions. There is not a large amount of extra work. This is how it all works:
- Take nappy off baby
- Rinse off the nappy
- You only really need to do this if it’s a number two
- If it is extra chunky you may need to scrape it off into the toilet first
- Place in bucket
- Wash all nappies in washing machine (every 2 days)
- Hang up
- Take down and put away (or leave in basket)
There is not that much effort involved. You especially notice how much good you are doing the first time you put out the bin for collection the week after moving to cloth. The waste is incredible with disposables.
I thought since I was going to write up a blog about this I would look up some facts about cloth nappies. This is problemsome because the majority of sites with these “facts” tend to be sites that are really trying to show how good they are. These are areas that the facts generally fit into and my thoughts on these particular areas.
“Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) – a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals”
The most recent article I could find on the Internet in regard to this was from 2000. I am guessing that it would be very unlikely to find this chemical in disposables these days. My usual argument for a “fact” like this is that, yes, it may be harmful but a lot of people would have been subjected to it. That would mean a lot of people with hormonal problems.
“Disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, a type of super absorbent polymer (SAP), which becomes a gel-like substance when wet. A similar substance had been used in super-absorbency tampons until the early 1980s when it was revealed that the material increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome by increasing absorbency and improving the environment for the growth of toxin-producing bacteria.”
This one is a bit of a strange one. For starters they are talking about it increasing toxic shock syndrome when used in tampons. I am almost certain that no baby has ever had toxic shock syndrome from the use of disposable nappies. You will also notice that the substance was not the cause of the increased risk. It was due to it working how it is supposed to work that is the problem. It increased absorbency making the environment more suitable to bacteria growth. To say “toxin-producing bacteria” is a bit of a misnomer, it would be correct to say “bacteria, including the toxin-producing kind.” I think it would be rather magical if the moist environment only produced toxin-producing bacteria.
This blog has some interesting points about SAP: http://blog.bolandbol.com/product-reviews/diapers-review/
From my understanding there is no real reason to use cloth over disposables from a health point of view.
I will not attack the subject of environment much. I believe most people know that it is much better for the environment to use cloth nappies.
Some people will say that cloth is bad for the environment in terms of water usage. This is usually quickly cleared up with people of this belief. Just because you aren’t using the water yourself with disposables, they still require a lot of water to be made. I have not seen any proper evidence for this but I would be surprised if cloth was not on par or better than disposables in terms of water usage.
The main environmental point is the length of time a disposable takes to break down. It’s a damn long time and you have to feel bad about that if you are contributing to the nappy pile.
This is an important area for many families. You need to cut spending where ever possible when you have a baby, so why not cut spending on the baby! You can search for arguments about this and see fairly easily that in the long run it is considerably cheaper to use cloth nappies. This is especially true if you use the nappies with all your children.
Some of the sites show other areas of cost including national cost and the like. I do not need to make an argument from this point of view. I don’t know how accurate this kind of argument will be anyway.
In the end all you really need to think about, when making the choice of nappies, is the environment. Do you want this wonderful planet to last for a long time? If you do not care what happens when you are long dead, go with disposables. If you think life is amazing and the fact we are here is incredible, choose cloth.
Yes, there is the cost factor but who really cares. Save some money, meh. Do your bit to save the planet is much much more awesome!
Never think it is too much effort to use cloth, it’s not. Also, take note that cloth nappies are no longer those dismal square towels. They are awesome. Just do a bit of a search around the Internet to see for yourself.
In my opinion, cloth is the way to go.