Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sleeping with babies

This is one of those issues where I think it's easy to speak emotionally at first rather than rationally. Of course, we're talking about innocent little babies, so it is understandable. No baby should die a preventable death. Be it from neglect, stupidity, or both.

The recent deaths of two babies from being smothered in bed set off the usual discourse. Neglectful parents too lazy or stupid to put the baby where it belongs . . . in a crib. I find that a huge generalization.

Don't get me wrong. This may well be the case in one of the stories. In the most recent incident, the mother was sleeping with two others in the bed. One being the baby. If this was the usual arrangement, that's not too smart. Even if a person can't afford a crib, a baby will sleep just about anywhere. A bed with a soft mattress, thick heavy covers and fluffy pillows . . . plus two other people, is just inviting trouble for a baby.

But, the mother was 18 years old. I'm sure she just didn't know any better. That's not an excuse. But, given her situation (single parent) and the fact that she was so young, her baby's death was really a tragic accident. I'm sure she didn't intend for her baby to die. For all we know, she was a caring, loving mother in all other aspects of her baby's life.

Now, if it turns out she was a drunk, or a drug user, or in some other way a sub-standard mother, then the situation is different.

Fact is, people sleep with their babies. My wife and I did. Not often. Just every now and then. But, we knew there was a safe method of doing so.

The biggest problem, to me, is that this mother was too young thus ill equipped to care for two children. She's 18. Which means she got pregnant at 16 with her first. That's when this problem started. Not when she slept with her baby.

Problem is, this life lesson resulted in the death of an innocent baby.

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