My Very Big Frustration with Marketing to Parents of Very Small Babies

Not too long ago, my husband and I were watching TV on a Friday night, drinking wine (as we do).  The main character was putting her baby to sleep in her crib and my husband turned to me with an astonished look on his face.  This is the moment I knew my being a sleep consultant had affected him because he laughed and said, “That room is ridiculous!”

He started listing all of the things he saw in the crib that he thought shouldn’t be there.  (Apparently I talk about work way too much at home.) There was a small pillow inside and the baby had a blanket over her.  There was another blanket hanging over the edge of the crib, easily within the baby’s reach.  The final touch was the huge plush toy the TV mum placed next to her very small TV baby.  

It wasn’t ideal.  More importantly, it wasn’t safe.  

This is something I’ve encountered time and time again.  Whenever I search for stock photos for my blog or marketing materials, I scroll past picture after picture that I can’t use because the crib set-up is hazardous.  I can usually find a few good pictures out of dozens.  It’s frustrating.  

Let me be clear.  As a parent it is your choice how you decorate your home and how you raise your children.  I have a three year old and an 18 month old so I’m reminded hourly daily how demanding raising children is.  Trust me when I say that I have the utmost respect for other parents.  If your little one’s crib looks like one of these pictures I don’t want you to feel judged after reading this.  

My frustration is not with parents.  It’s with companies who are holding up these images as the ideal and propagating this misconception that crib comfort means blankets and pillows and that crib beauty means bumper pads and plush toys.  

There are many parents, especially those of my parents’ generation, who will say that they used items like blankets and bumper pads in their children’s cribs and everything was fine.  Thankfully, for them, that was the case.  

While their perception is understandable and their experience is valid, it always makes me think of seat belts.  In 1976, Ontario became the first province to pass a law which required people to wear seat belts in cars.  Prior to 1976, it wasn’t against the law to ride in a car without a seat belt.  Many people rode belt-free and were never involved in a car accident and never suffered any consequences.  Would you listen to someone who argued that you don’t need a seat belt because they didn’t wear one when they were young and they’re fine?  Of course not!  Because it’s not worth the risk.   

I know that keeping unsafe objects out of cribs is not required by law, however, including these items is also definitely not worth the risk.  

So how dangerous are things like blankets, bumper pads, and pillows in a baby’s crib?  

In 1999 the Back to Sleep campaign was launched in Canada.  While the primary focus of this campaign was to have babies put to sleep on their backs, it also promoted safe sleep environments such as cribs with nothing but a firm crib mattress and fitted sheet inside.  According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the result of this campaign is that “the rate of SIDS has dropped by more than half”1.

As part of my training to become a sleep consultant, I received a lot of education about SIDS and SUID.  I’ve watched too many videos and read too many accounts from parents who have tragically lost a child.  Their pain was palpable and I’ve never forgotten their stories.  

My perspective completely changed.  Now, instead of seeing a sweet, comfortable picture of a nursery, I see hazards.  A blanket is great for cuddling on the couch or for your child’s bed but, in the crib of a baby less than one year of age, it could wrap around their neck or cover their face and cause them to suffocate.  Will that definitely happen?  No.  But, again, it is not worth the risk.  

This isn’t a fun topic to talk about, nor to blog about.  But one of the reasons I’m proud to be FSI certified is because of their commitment to raising awareness about SIDS and SUID prevention and safe sleep. 

My wish is that companies marketing to parents of newborns and young babies would make the same commitment to safe sleep.  

So I’m going to finish with a picture of a crib that is perfectly safe.  

It looks beautiful to me.

For more information about sleep safety, visit the Fast Asleep Consulting Safe Sleep page or the Public Health Agency of Canada website.  

 

1  Safe Sleep for Your Baby brochure.  (2010, Revised 2014).  Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/childhood-adolescence/stages-childhood/infancy-birth-two-years/safe-sleep/safe-sleep-your-baby-brochure.html

 

 

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Rachel Ross

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