Over the last few months, I've had to make a ton of decisions on how to raise Baby Vegas. And believe it or not, just because I've done it once before with Little Man doesn't mean I will make the same choices for my second son. Not only do I not remember everything I did with Little Man, things have already changed since my firstborn was a baby. Yes, in five years, things have changed. So not only do I have to defend my decisions to my (well-meaning but wrong) older generation of moms/grandmas I have around me, but I have to defend them to myself! Just because I did it once doesn't mean it is still the best or safest way to parent!
Between my BabyBump iPhone app and my Facebook newsfeed, there are so many questions and then opinions about baby rearing. Breast-feeding or formula? Attachment parenting or crying-it-out? Pureed food or baby led weaning? These debates can get incredibly heated, but I generally avoid them and am not too concerned. While these choices are obviously very important to you and yours, your decision in them does not affect me or the life of your child. Your breastfed baby is just as safe as my formula fed one. Kids who start on purees will eventually eat table food. There are no studies that identify whether serial killers were carried in Baby Bjorns instead of a tye-dyed ring sling. Maybe your kid will end up "better" than my kid, or maybe they won't. These kind of choices are innocent parenting choices that always just prompt me to say - and only when asked for my opinion - "Here is what I do, but really, do what you think is best."
But then there are the debates that have me slamming down my phone in disgust or typing away long-winded answers in frustration. Baby carriers rested on the tops of shopping carts. Guidelines on how long to keep your child in a car seat and/or rear facing. Crib bumpers and the "back to sleep" initiative. These questions make me angry because there is in fact just one answer to all of these - do what is safest despite what is convenient! That's it. No, you don't hear about thousands of babies dying from any one of these things. But there are plenty of injuries, and there have been deaths. So why would you risk being that unlucky parent for a little bit of convenience? Yeah, I've been there. I hate having to wake up a sleeping baby to transfer them to a wearable carrier or one of the carriers that is pre-attached to your shopping cart. I have beautiful crib bumpers gifted to me for my first son from before the state of Maryland outlawed them for safety reasons. I've watched my son sleeping on his tummy so sweetly and deeply that I was tempted to walk away and get my work done.
Then I think about it again. I think about those women who knew it would never ever happen to them. The ones whose child would never fall off a shopping cart as she rolled over a curb, or turned down the aisle too quickly. The mother who walked in to see her child tangled in a crib bumper or smothered under a heavy quilt. Those few mothers out of those hundreds of mothers who just know it will never happen to them. And then I don't gamble. It isn't worth the risk My son's life is worth making the safe bet - which is not betting at all. Just because your parents did it and "we turned out fine" is not an excuse any more. Know better, and do better. Don't be the person that gambles and loses! You can't possibly know what life has in store for you. You might be the car involved in a collision on the Beltway, or you might get home safely with two kids sharing a single seat-belt. No one wakes up in the morning and thinks, "By golly I better be extra-safe today because I have that accident coming my way." If there are ways to prevent infant and child deaths and you aren't doing them, then that is when I want to shake you and beg you to become informed. Even when doing your very best all the time as a parent, accidents happen. Every day can't be your lucky day. So please take the extra time to read up on child safety and carry it out. The one time you realize that you prevented an accident or injury will be worth all the headache and work you swore you didn't need to be doing. And if you never happen to encounter a situation where your child is saved by one of the safety measures you took - well then, consider yourself lucky, and I'd recommend you play the slots.