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Attachment Parenting

SIDS Cribs and Cosleeping

SIDS. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Hearing those four little words or the one little acronym can strike fear in the heart of any new parent. SIDS is real, random, quick and totally unexpected. Parents will naturally do anything in their power to prevent the unthinkable from happening to their perfectly healthy newborn.

What is SIDS? Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is exactly what it sounds like. A perfectly healthy newborn baby, usually less than 6 months old, simply stops breathing in their sleep. The unsuspecting parents go to wake their child up from his or her nap and find their worst nightmare has come true.

While many theories are flying around about the cause of SIDS, most focus on the deepness of sleep and how it affects the child’s breathing. Babies do not sleep as soundly when they are on their backs and many attribute this fact to the success of the “back to sleep” campaign.

SIDS Cribs. Could there be a connection? Another theory which you may not be familiar with is that the crib mattress itself is to blame for SIDS cases. It is actually the chemicals and toxins emitted from the mattress that is actually to blame. Arsenic, phosphorus and antimony are intentionally added to crib mattresses by the manufacturers as fire retardants. SIDS was very rare prior to the 1950s when these additives became standard.

“As crib mattresses start to age, these fire retardant chemicals react with ordinary household fungi (harmless fungi, at that) to create a very, very dangerous chemical reaction. The toxins emitted, as these compounds interact, are actually a thousand times more toxic than carbon monoxide.”

According to the article found at bestinbedding.com
“As crib mattresses start to age, these fire retardant chemicals react with ordinary household fungi (harmless fungi, at that) to create a very, very dangerous chemical reaction. The toxins emitted, as these compounds interact, are actually a thousand times more toxic than carbon monoxide. While other factors like nutrition, smoking around the baby, and sleep position are still potentially factors in SIDS, given the research relating non-organic crib mattresses to fatal toxin release should be enough for new mothers to take a look at their portable and non-portable crib mattress purchases.”

In addition, the toxins emitted become greater as time goes on. This may explain why SIDS rates are higher for second children…..and higher yet for third children and so on. Many parents will only purchase a crib mattress one time and re-use it for all of their children. In addition, the fungi left by the first baby is already in place to start interacting with the chemicals more quickly when the following children use the mattress.

The toxic mattress theory also explains why the “Back to sleep” campaign has been so successful. If a baby is not lying face down in a pool of neuro-toxins then they at least have a bit of fresh air in the mix and a better shot at survival. The toxic gases released by the mattress when it interacts with the fungi is very dense and heavier than air so it lies in a very thin film on the mattress which the baby is face-first in when sleeping in a prone position.

If you think the toxic mattress theory has merit or if you just want to err on the side of caution then there are three options you have to minimize your newborn’s exposure to these potentially lethal toxins (which some also theorize are connected to the rise in autism in the United States):

1. Purchase an organic crib mattress
2. Mattress wrapping
3. Co-sleeping

Let’s quickly explore these three options.

Organic Crib Mattress
Organic crib mattresses are free of synthetic fabrics, plastics, formaldehyde, chemicals, dyes and the hazardous chemicals that are linked to SIDS. The mattresses are commonly made with wool which acts as a natural fire retardant. Even if SIDS does not concern you, do you want your child spending 70% of their early life laying on a toxic, synthetic mattress? Don’t forget to make sure baby’s mattress pad, crib bedding and sleepwear are also organic.

You can buy organic crib mattresses at Amazon, TheNaturalSleepStore, Non-toxic.com, or Nature’sCrib.com

Mattress Wrapping
Mattress wrapping is simply wrapping your existing crib mattress in a particular way with an impermeable cover (plastic) to minimize the toxic fumes that your baby comes in contact with. The cover keeps moisture from the baby out and toxic fumes in. It is certainly much less expensive that buying an organic mattress for up to $1000. Parents have been wrapping crib mattresses in New Zealand for the last twelve years thanks to aggressive public awareness campaigns and in that time their SIDS rate has dropped to one of the lowest in the world and there has never been a reported SIDS case on a properly wrapped mattress. Please read that again.

There has never been a single reported SIDS case on a properly wrapped mattress.

Why isn’t this common knowledge? Can you imagine the lawsuit if mattress manufacturers ever have to admit responsibility? Well, now you know and you should probably make a point of telling all of your pregnant friends. If you are going to use a crib with a non-organic mattress, then wrap it. You will probably have to import your mattress cover from overseas but its a small price to pay for not gambling on your baby’s life.

Learn more about mattress wrapping at:

http://www.cotlife2000.com/

http://www.babysake.com/Howtowrap.htm

http://www.healthychild.com/cribdeathcause.htm

http://www.preventcribdeath.com/

Cosleeping
The last option (and the least expensive) if you are interested in keeping your baby safe from SIDS is cosleeping. Odds are that your adult mattress is not organic either, but it contains more springs and frame than pure foam which is what contains the PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) used as flame retardants. (Please never cosleep with your baby if you are using a tempurpedic or memory foam mattress.)

Other than reduced gases, cosleeping offers further protection against SIDS. Breastfeeding babies are a substantially reduced risk for SIDS, and cosleeping facilitates breastfeeding more than any other lifestyle choice. Breastfeeding newborns will also not assume a prone (tummy lying) position while sleeping next to their lactating mothers. Babies generally sleep on their sides or back for easy access to mom. Cosleeping mothers are also in a higher alert state during sleep so they are much more likely to respond to a baby in any sort of silent distress. Lastly, since a fear of fire seems to be the rationale for loading up crib mattresses with chemicals (by federal law mind you), then doesn’t it make sense to keep the batteries in your smoke alarms fresh and sleep next to your child so you can carry them out of your home in the event of an emergency?

If you are concerned about the myths surrounding cosleeping safety, then first keep in mind that there is a reason they call it “cot death” or “crib death” and not “sleeping next to mom death”. One well publicized study which attempted to portray cosleeping as unsafe found 515 cosleeping deaths in an eight year period. While that may sound like a large number, it pales in comparison to the approximately 34,000 crib deaths that occurred in the US in the same time period.

There are other SIDS risk factors such as having smoking parents (smokers exhale toxins when they breathe) and recent vaccinations. Knowing the risk factors and causes of SIDS, particularly the ones that are exceptionally easy to eliminate, is the first step parents can take to sleeping easy knowing your baby is safe.

Learn more about cosleeping and SIDS at:
http://www.babyreference.com/Cosleeping&SIDSFactSheet.htm

Other SIDS death factors:
http://www.healthychild.com/SIDS-crib-death-factors.htm

Author: Sheryl Lyon
Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/peasap/2561252071/

About the author

Natural Parenting – who has written posts on A Much Better Way.


Discussion

20 Responses to “SIDS Cribs and Cosleeping”

  1. In terms of helping your child cosleeping is the best option IMO. However, I’ve avoided this because of dependence issues as well as time restraints. I would say the most practical option is mattress wrapping.

    Posted by John | August 18, 2008, 12:50 am
  2. It sounds like buying a new crib for each baby is the safest way to prevent fungi from building up and hurting your baby.

    Posted by sleepsquad | November 18, 2008, 12:42 pm
  3. @sleepsquad:

    Actually skipping the crib mattress altogether, using an organic mattress or mattress wrapping is the safest way to protect your baby from SIDS.

    Posted by Natural Parenting | November 18, 2008, 3:39 pm
  4. I’m not sure if natural sleeping is the best way to go. I believe that cribs are better.

    Posted by Why | July 15, 2009, 10:06 am
  5. We’ve always slept alongside our kids, and people tried telling us that it was MORE dangerous in terms of SIDS. I always told those people that it didn’t make sense.

    When you’re breast-feeding and sleeping with your child, you’re in tune with that child. It’s very unique connection a mother and her breast-fed child have.

    Posted by Devin | July 20, 2009, 8:01 pm
  6. Thanks for writing about organic crib mattresses. More parents need to know about these.

    Posted by Tony Horton | July 23, 2009, 1:45 am
  7. Not sure what the answer is here. My kids always slept in the crib and we avoided any kind of cosleeping. I do certainly understand the mindset behind cosleeping though. All comments very thought provoking

    Posted by Jeff | August 12, 2009, 4:06 pm
  8. This surely is a very helpful article every mother should read. I always read in books that SIDS is a mysterious disease of some kind. And I think it just best to cautious about the factors that can contribute to it.

    Posted by Tessie | August 28, 2009, 9:24 am
  9. Thanks for the great information. I am sure many parents including myself find this article very informative. You have done a great job informing us on SIDS. Thanks for the great tips.

    Posted by David | October 26, 2009, 6:47 am
  10. So many people aren’t aware of the importance of natural materials when it comes to babies and their environments and I commend you for making this information available. Thank you!

    Posted by Malcom | July 30, 2010, 8:10 pm
  11. I think a lot of parents are afraid of rolling over on their baby if they have them in the bed. And, if they hear every move or exhale, it might keep parents awake at a time when they most need the sleep.

    Posted by Tammy | August 16, 2010, 2:43 pm
  12. Dear Sir/Madam ,
    We are factory specializing in the manufacturer and export of memory foam pillows,memory foam toppers and mattresses for more than four years. We have profuse designs with series quality grade, and expressly, our price is very competitive because we are manufacturer, we are the source. You are welcome to visit our website http://www.suntimebedding.com, which includes our company profiles, history and something latest designs.
    To offer you with the best possible value, our raw material is imported from USA Dow Chemical. Our foam products meet Tb603 and BS5852 flame retardant standard. Our memory foam pillows are over 120 types and new products develop 4-5 types monthly. Our product mainly sells to Europe, North America, Japan and so on. OEM and ODM orders are welcome.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Ms.Rita

    Company:Lingbi Suntime Bedding Co.,Ltd
    Website:www.suntimebedding.com
    Email:rita@suntimebedding.com
    MSN:rita-xz@hotmail.com

    Posted by RITA | October 12, 2010, 11:31 pm
  13. There is a new type of crib mattress that addresses all the risks associated with SIDS. It is called the Heaven Sent Breathable Crib Mattress by http://www.securebeginnings.com. This crib mattress is designed so that a baby lying face down can breathe normally without rebreathing harmful levels of CO2. It also contains NO toxins and has no out gassing. It has decorative openings in the sides where air enters and exits and then travels up and down through the open celled spacer fabric sleep surface/mattress. The entire sleep surface is easily laundered in a conventional wash machine and dryer. It truly is a REVOLUTIONARY design in safe and sanitary sleep for baby.

    Posted by Julie | December 13, 2010, 8:43 pm
  14. Its kind of funny how the people on here trying to “avoid” co sleeping are men. Breastfeeding babies NEED attachment. Its sad how our culture tends to emphasize individualism to the extreme of paranoia with infants sleeping in the same bed. Yeah, their movements may wake you up, BUT YOU ARE A PARENT, they are suppose to wake you up. That is the point of cosleeping, to be intune with your child. SELFISH AMERICAN.

    Posted by rachel | January 5, 2011, 2:48 pm
  15. Babies need a lot of caring and eventhough they are not able to tell us, they seek attachment from parents naturally. It’s very important to show our affection and care towards them by our simple actions. That affects the mental state of the baby very much and it can grow up with confidence and in a good state of mind.

    Posted by Ian | March 8, 2011, 10:06 pm
  16. Thank you for a truly interesting post! Over the last two and a half years, I have read heaps on SIDS, and how to prevent it, yet never came across this aspect. I think I’m going to research it a bit more. Personally we co sleep for many reasons and love it. How is the risk reduced though when the baby becomes a toddler and moves to a toddler bed?

    Posted by Hannah Collado | March 23, 2011, 4:01 am
  17. “its not called sleeping next to mom death” lol. Me and my wife cosleep with our child every night and so far he has avoided sids.

    Posted by William | April 5, 2011, 8:19 pm
  18. SIDS is so scary. In our case, we sleep together with our baby in our mattress so that i can easily see what my baby is doing when she fell asleep.

    Posted by buy a mattress pittsburgh | October 18, 2011, 6:29 am
  19. This just goes to show why natural and organic baby products are becoming more popular. At present, organic baby products tend to come mainly from smaller manufacturers.

    I would certainly like to see the big brands making baby cribs and bedding to start offering organic materials in their products.

    Posted by Donna | February 17, 2012, 6:55 am

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