Scrolling through social media, you don’t have to wait long to see parenting suggestions and advice. I have learned some amazing things by stopping my mindless scrolling to take in parenting hacks such as how to clean plastic toys by putting them in the dishwasher – HELPFUL. And for the toys that are not dishwasher safe, a solution or vinegar and water to disinfect but is safe for babies and children – HELPFUL. Or I ponder over a lovely platitude encouraging parents to keep doing their best. I agree there are many parenting tips that are shared that can really be put to good use and that moments, of ”That is so clever yet so simple, why didn’t I think of that?”
Then come the parenting hacks that are potentially HARMFUL. I recently saw one that was getting thousands and thousands of views. It had a very young baby asleep on it’s belly. There was a rubber glove filled with rice placed on the baby’s back as a replacement for a parent’s hand to allow the parents to step away. While this was seen by most parents as a pure act of genius, as Midwife and Baby Sleep Specialists I did not see this as helpful. While I understand that parents are trying to help each other out, it seems that a lot of the Rednose (formerly SIDS and Kids) safe sleep guildelines were being ignored in creating this parenting hack. Rednose are Australia’s leading safe sleep advice to keep our bubs safe. Let’s break it down with Rednose suggestions in mind.
- The baby pictured was young, unlikely to be able to roll onto her tummy herself. Rednose suggest keeping babies on their back to sleep.
- There was an object in the cot with a young baby. Rednose suggest a sleep space free of objects. A comfort toy is safe after 7 months of age
- The object was a glove was filled with uncooked rice – this had the potential to split and spill around the baby which would be dangerous
- The weight of the rice filled glove on the baby’s back may affect safe breathing ability and creating extra warmth around the sleeping baby
When you see this hack through Rednose safe sleep guidelines’ eyes, it may not seem as genius as you originally thought.
In my many years of home visiting a Baby Sleep Specialist, I have often come across potentially hazardous situations with babies and sleep spaces. There are very often in beautiful homes with educated parents who adore their baby. When I raise the issue of the safety in a particular situation, I am often met with a quick response of ” It’s ok I have the baby breathing monitor turned on.” I then reply with, “and what will you do if the alarm goes off?” I then get a blank stare from the well meaning parent. A parent quite often hasn’t thought the next step through. What would they do if the breathing alarm went off, or they found their baby not breathing in the absence of a monitor? I have been trained in both baby and adult resuscitation and I still wouldn’t feel confident in resuscitating a baby in a home environment. So rather than risk putting your baby into a potentially hazardous situation, avoid putting your baby in danger altogether. For the few minutes of ‘escaping’ that you may get with a glove on your baby’s back mimicking your presence, you may be risking much more harm.
I am a parent too. I was a parent to difficult and wakeful babies myself. I have been there. I have fantasied about getting a few hours of solid sleep. Exhausted and overwhelmed, I am sure I made poor choices for my sons’ safety at times. As a village of people supporting new parents we need a voice to help them in making good and safe decisions to protect their babies. We don’t wish to humiliate or shame parents, but simply hold their hand and guide them to safer learning ground.
I have also noticed on parenting social media groups, video of babies with erratic and poor breathing, rashes and feeding problems. These babies are in need of a professional medical assessment. There needs to be more moderation of sites that look toward content that is appropriate for the aims of the groups. That asking advice for what colour to paint a baby’s bedroom is quite different to asking advice on the need to get treatment for a baby’s health. I know it is hard to sometimes know if your child is sick or what to do about it if they are. With many isolated families not having relatives or trusted friends living close, it can be very difficult. I had a mantra with my babies “When in doubt, check it out.” If I felt that my child was not behaving as they usually did with awake/ sleeping patterns, feeding and eating, behaviour anything that didn’t settle over a few hours, was worth checking out.
Please familiarise yourself with safe sleep guidelines at www.rednose.com.au every few months so you can stay updated with the latest in safe sleeping information. Use this powerful knowledge to apply to parenting hacks that you see on social media. This may save your baby’s life.
If you would like more detailed information on being able to assist your baby to sleep safely and for longer, as well as so much more – Caroline’s Angels Baby Sleep Specialists now have Dynamic Baby Sleep Guides ready for instant download. These Dynamic Baby Sleep Guides are divided into age ranges so we can focus on the baby’s age and needs all with the knowledge that the information is safe. With your purchase of a Dynamic Baby Sleep Guide, you will also get a bonus 3 months of membership to our Dynamic Sleep Pods. The Sprout group (under 12 months) and Seedlings (over 12 months) are closed facebook groups that are moderated by Caroline’s Angels. This is a safe place without judgement for parents to seek advice and support about their baby.
Check out our Dynamic Sleep Guides today – https://carolinesangels.com.au/resources/dynamic-baby-sleep-guides/