Willows Talks About The Family Bed & Co-Sleeping
Many families spend their days together. Others stay together at night too! The “family bed,” or co-sleeping is a common practice in many societies, and there are advocates for it here in the U.S. too. However, there are child safety concerns related to having adults and children share a bed. So, is it an acceptable practice?
A recent blog posted on CT Now (and written by former local mom Sarah Cody), asked the same question. She’d heard about the possible benefits of co-sleeping—better nursing and enhanced emotional security—but worried about the dangers to newborns and infants, including injury and suffocation.
She turned to Willows Pediatric Group physician Dr. Jeff Owens for his take on the issue. Dr. Owens rightly pointed out that ‘”The American Academy of Pediatrics still doesn’t recommend it.” He also noted that the dangers stem from two major concerns: soft bedding and impaired judgment. A baby should never sleep on a futon, couch or waterbed, and a parent should not drink, smoke or use drugs with the infant nearby. Moreover, twenty-four hour bonding can challenge a couple’s need for a healthy physical relationship and leave a mother drained and exhausted.
However, Dr. Owens did allow for some wiggle room. “If it’s a stark, firm [bed] and the baby is on his back, the baby is probably safe.” Dr. Owens believes we should also respect different cultures, some of which believe “the family bed” is the answer to peaceful nights and strong attachments.
In other words, “do what works for your family as long as it’s a safe situation.”
In November 2010, the AAP issued new age-based recommendations for iron intake in infants and toddlers. Because iron deficiency can have irreversible long-term effects on children’s cognitive and behavioral development, the AAP Committee on Nutrition stated that, “It is critical to children’s health that we improve their iron intake status starting in infancy.”
Babies born healthy at full term are born with sufficient iron stores for the first 4 months of life. Therefore, full-term babies do not need iron supplements prior to four months of age. However, if the infant is breast-fed, the AAP now recommends a 1-mg/kg daily dose of oral iron starting at four months, and continuing until an infant begins eating solid iron-rich foods – typically around six months of age. (Formula-fed infants will receive sufficient iron in their formula and do not need a supplement between four and six months of age.)
There is one caveat: Preterm infants do require iron during the first four months. If they are bottle-fed, the iron-fortified formula will provide the proper amount for these infants. However, according to the AAP, preterm infants who are breast-fed should take a 2-mg/kg daily dose of iron starting at one month of age.