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Safe Sleep for Two

When it comes to the number one thing all parents think about, one thing comes to mind “Where will my babies sleep?”. I thought I needed to dedicate an entire blog to this. I admit, I was not the best mother when it came to sleeping practices. I co-slept at times and I had my twins on opposite ends of the same crib. I thought they were so cute together. I thought they would “miss each other.” I was a nurse and I knew the recommendations, but one day….

I walked in on them while they were taking a nap. Jill in her pink sleep sack on the right, Jess in her purple sleep sack on the left. I don’t remember exactly how old they were, possibly between 4-6 months old. While they were still sleeping Jess managed to roll, scoot, or something over to Jill’s side. Maybe she just missed her sister, but the bottom of Jess’ sleep sack was over Jill’s face. Both were sleeping. If I did not go in, would they both have woken up? This scared me into changing some practices. I thought they had a guardian angel looking over them, prompting me to go check on them.

So many things have changed since I had my twins. I want to give you the best up-to-date guidelines and encourage you to follow them. So I asked Certified Maternal Newborn nurse, an expert on safe sleep, Bonnie L. Renner-Ohnishi”, BSN, RNC-MNN about some of the latest recommendations. This is what she had to say:

“Lately, there has been some media attention pushing back against the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2016 Safe Sleep Recommendations. If you’re not familiar with these recommendations, they are evidence-based guidelines and best practices put forth to help families reduce their babies’ risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related infant deaths. Many

families are saying they would prefer for health care providers to teach them how to co-sleep safely as opposed to our current “abstinence only” approach.

The Safe Sleep Campaign is all about the ABC’s of Safe Sleep, which simply states that babies should always sleep Alone, on their Backs, and in a Crib. Ideally, this safe sleep should be happening in the parents’ room but on a separate sleep surface for baby. While some might argue that it is more natural for infants to sleep with their parents, or that co-sleeping is linked to longer duration of breastfeeding, the reality is that sleeping with your baby significantly increases the risk for sleep-related infant death. And while the risk may still be low, why would anyone want to increase their child’s risk of dying?!? These deaths are happening, and they are happening more often to families who share a bed with their baby.

So, you might be thinking, “OK, I won’t sleep with my baby, but surely it would be OK for my infant twins to sleep together.” Actually, no. As sweet as it might seem to have twins sleep together, any potential benefits of twins co-sleeping are outweighed by the risk of accidental suffocation. Everyone needs their own sleep space.”

I then asked Bonnie if she had some safe sleep recommendations regarding breastfeeding at night? “Actually, the latest recommendation is for moms to go ahead and bring the baby into the bed for nighttime feedings. We realize that moms do accidentally fall asleep while nursing, and we want to make that situation as safe as possible. If you were to fall asleep while nursing on a couch or armchair, the baby could slip down into an unsafe position between the arm of the chair and the cushion. If you remove pillows and blankets prior to nursing (and set a 15-minute alarm!) your bed is actually the safest place for you to nurse your baby when you are feeling sleepy. Just make sure your baby gets placed safely back to sleep in the crib when finished nursing.”

Safe sleep is more than just “back to sleep” I quickly learned this when an afternoon nap almost turned into a tragedy. So I highly recommend in order to Win at Twinning, give each baby their own sleep space, and follow the ABC’s of safe sleep.

For more information about safe sleep, please visit the NIH Safe to Sleep Campaign

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