Saturday, March 9, 2013

101 ways to kill your baby

Wow. I thought pregnancy was a bit of a minefield: all those risks to which you might expose your unborn child.  But compared to the mild frisson I experienced when eating soft cheese or taking a hot bath, caring for the little mite now she is actually born is a terrifying white knuckle ride.

First there's the ever present danger of incorrect climate. Babies are rubbish at managing their own body temperature, which is why the John Lewis baby department - with its many blankets of different weaves - was invented. She must not be too cold, or she'll perish. Too hot, and she'll get too, well, hot. And too cosy and she will sleep herself to death. Given the recent weather, swinging from balmy spring day to frosty grey dampness, maintaining an even temperature in a drafty room is no mean feat. So we have a baby monitor that tells us if the room is too hot or too cold. It is always too hot or too cold. We are constantly running in there and turning radiators up or down, removing blankets, opening windows, and generally thwarting Lady P's lame attempts to sleep.

And sleeping is important. Overtiredness can lead to all sorts of other problems, and I don't just mean that it prevents us having a peaceful G&T. The best way to get her back to sleep is to cuddle her into submission. But that is the path to co-sleeping... and the risk of squashing her to death. We could swaddle her, as many people recommend, but apparently swaddling stifles the Moro reflex and puts them at risk of falling into too deep a sleep (and therefore cot death).

Once she's asleep, but not too deeply, and at the right temperature, you'd think we could relax. Wrong. We have to worry about flat head syndrome, and the potential for brain damage (or a weird shaped head, meaning she can never get a buzz cut. Hmm.). To avoid the flat head thing we need her sometimes to sleep on her side, or with a pillow - and therein lurks a suffocation risk.

Also, too much sleeping and not enough eating will make her floppy and jaundiced, apparently. So, on the rare occasion she is knocking out ZZZs for more than 3 or 4 hour,  I need to wake her for a feed.

You can't do wrong for doing right, as they say Up North.
Breaking all the rules: chomping on a suffocation device while lying  on a pillow with a loose blanket
After my post on advice I was given some excellent advice from our favourite New Yorker's wise sister - 'never try to make a happy baby happier'. With every day that goes by I see more clearly the value in this advice. She is so often screaming that when she isn't, we don't want to disturb the fragile peace.
So if Lady P is perfectly happy napping with a pillow in a cold room, or snuggled into our bed a little warmer than recommended, well, we let her. With frayed nerves, and watchful eyes, but still, we let her.

After all, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

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