I'm just going to preface this by saying that parenting is hard. Whether you're a first time mom or have 2, 3 or 12 kids, there is so much information out there and we will never be able to learn it all. I know that we are doing the best we can and that most of the "wrong" parenting practices out there happen not because of negligence but because we just don't know any better. If we aren't told and we haven't read it anywhere, how would we ever know? We wouldn't.
So this post is not to judge you or tell you you're all bad parents but is more for education. After what happened two weeks ago, it is quite clear that so many parents out there just never even thought of some of the things they were doing as being un-safe. So there you have it -- I'm just trying to do what I can to save some lives.
When is it okay to tell a parent they are "doing it wrong?" None of us want to be that parent and heck, we don't want another parent to tell us that but what if it could save a baby's life?
This is a topic that's been on my mind for quite some time now and about two weeks ago, it hit home hard.
As you all know, I am a firm believer in parenting the way that works best for you, for your child, and for your family. In most cases, there is no right or wrong way to parent (with exceptions to that, of course). So when it comes to blogging about parenting, I do my best to make it very clear that these are OUR ways of doing things and if you do it differently, then that's great! If it works for you, that's fabulous and you are parenting just the way you should be. I offer my advice, my opinion, and what works for us in different circumstances because oftentimes, the way we are parenting ISN'T working and we may need to switch it up a bit. Just like I often ask you all for advice, I offer my advice in case you need it.
Take it or leave it.
But over the past couple of months, my thoughts on "parenting right" have changed dramatically.
Now I'm not talking about schedules and bed times, whether you should feed your kids organic foods or how to discipline, but I am talking about parenting ways when it comes to baby safety.
As you probably all heard (since it made it around the world and back), a mommy in the small shop community lost her sweet 7-month-old son and she spoke out, telling everyone that this could have been prevented. She just had no idea that she was even doing anything wrong and a freak accident happened in her son's crib almost two weeks ago. While he could crawl and could move his head around just fine, the blanket she placed him in the crib with somehow got wrapped around the rails.
This was the same blanket she'd always placed him in his crib with.
And my heart breaks for her. We are in a Facebook group together and when she first told us all, I cried. I cried really hard and I couldn't even imagine her pain. She blamed herself and then she spoke out, hoping she could spread a message in crib safety to everyone. She wanted others to know what she didn't and her message thankfully made it around the world to news channels and large publications.
I didn't know this mom personally but we've purchased from her small shop before and I knew her son's face from the brand repping world so just knowing how close this mom was to us really hit me hard. We all think "that'll never happen to me, though" but that could have been any of us. That could have been your child.
So lately, when I see that a parent is parenting WRONG, it is hard to decipher whether 1) they are making that choice even though they know the potential outcomes or 2) they're just not educated on the topic. And my guess is that most fall under the latter. So yes, if you are putting your child in danger and throwing all of the risks out the door, then I'm sorry, but you're doing this parenting thing wrong. And it COULD happen to you no matter how much you think otherwise.
I see Facebook posts daily with children in their car seats with the straps on completely wrong. I see photos of babies in cribs with piles of blankets, stuffed animals and pillows "because they sleep better that way." I see parents doing and saying all of these things just because "it works better for them." It may seem easier but think about it, it is not worth the risk. Not even a little bit. I get it -- You're tired and you want your kid to sleep or you honestly didn't know that the buckle on the car seat strap was supposed to be at armpit level, but these are things that could save your child's life or end your child's life.
Those families that do experience horrible tragedies probably have said the same exact thing -- "it'll never happen to me." And it happened to them.
So I guess here's my question:
When do you think it's okay to politely let a parent know that what they are doing just isn't safe for their baby? No one wants to be told they are parenting incorrectly and in all honesty, I don't want to be the parent to say it either. But these are little lives we are talking about and in many cases, it could come down to the fact that a parent just didn't know.
Do you speak out when you see a parent doing something that is known to be not safe?
BABY SAFETY TIPS
We are lucky enough to have a pediatrician who is EXTREMELY helpful when it comes to these things. Without even asking, she goes through a safety checklist every single appointment to ensure we are up to date on everything and are doing everything in our power to keep Ava safe. Of course I am not an expert on any of this but just wanted to write down a quick checklist of the baby safety tips we learned from our pediatrician. These are things I never would have even thought about if she hadn't told us so I am passing them along to all of you:
- Co-sleeping is not safe. Parents become exhausted and may not even notice that they have rolled onto their child, sheets and blankets can block their little airways, and a child's mattress should be firm (not squishy and comfy like the ones we get to sleep in). Of course, there are co-sleeping methods that are safe like the DockATot and bassinets that attach to the side of your bed.
- Infants should be placed on their back every single night. My pediatrician told us that as soon as Ava could roll over on her own in her sleep, then she was safe to sleep however she wanted. But even then, I was always told to put her on her back every single night to start. (I think there are crazy high statistics out there on the drop in infant deaths once the back placement rule was put into place.)
- Once a baby can roll over, you should no longer swaddle (or at least don't swaddle their arms).
- Toilets should always be locked shut as soon as a baby can pull up to stand. I was told that babies find the water and when they reach in, can tip in and drown.
- THIS ONE IS HUGE. I seriously see incorrect photos of babies in car seats all the time. The buckle of the car seat strap should go at their armpit level over their ribs and the majority of people have that strap way too low.
- Until a child can get in and out of their own bed, they should not have any blankets, pillows or stuffed animals with them at night. They're all suffocation hazards, even if your child can already walk.
- No infant should ever nap in their car seat. Apparently when they are very young, their muscles aren't developed enough to hold their own chest up which could potentially block their airways if the car seat isn't angled correctly.