The ABC’s (Alone, Back, Crib) of sleep have become a common phrase for infant sleep safety throughout hospitals, clinics, and communities for several years. This often challenges biological norms of how an infant expects to feed, connect, move, develop and sleep in proximity to parents. We see these challenges nearly every day as we work with new families. We also see families connect their intuition with their baby’s needs often through the 4B’s, each of which are biological norms that have sustained us through millennia:
- Breastfeeding (or chestfeeding)
- Propelled us through millennia with comfort, development and food that is specific to our species for survival, growth, and health across lifespans
- Is an extension of pregnancy and birthing and requires just as much or more support
- Does not always come easily or naturally, and that is why we and so many others are here to help ensure baby is moving as expected to breastfeed, and a family is confident in their ability to support breastfeeding in whatever form works best for them
- Is ultimately sustained through ongoing community support; it truly takes a village; check out some community resources here!
- Also propelled us through millennia with a safe place to be while adapting to new sites, sounds and smells when on the go
- Maintains connection in our modern and busy world, not that different though than that of ancestors whose lives also remained busy in the months and years after a baby was born
- Helps avoid the modern phenomenon of container baby syndrome in which a baby can develop movement and behavior problems as well as deformities like a flattened head or tightened neck (torticollis) due to excessive time in an array of containers (car seats, strollers, rockers, nursing cushions)
- Just like breastfeeding, it is passed on from parent to parent. Want to learn more? Check out Columbus Babywearing where you can find related education to empower all caregivers in the Central Ohio area
- Nurtures movement, strength and coordination for feeding and development
- Helps integrate reflexes and grow emerging voluntary movement throughout the early weeks and months of life
- A safe place to be when awake, nourished, calm and accompanied by a parent, caregiver or sibling to foster interaction and connection
- A term coined by anthropologist, James McKenna, and described as “humankind’s oldest and most successful eating and sleeping arrangement,” it has also propelled us through millennia
- Is a biological norm for our species, and allows babies to nurse frequently throughout the night without either the parent or baby fully awakening; and, in that sense, can help sustain milk supply, infant growth and better sleep for everyone
- Protective against SIDS with safe sleep 7: no smoking in home or outside, sober parents, breastfeeding/chestfeeding, full-term baby, baby on back when fully asleep, no swaddle, safe surface (not on a couch, chair, fluffy blankets, or soft mattress)
- Is supported by the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine which strives to provide evidence based information for healthcare professionals as related to breastfeeding success
So, if your intuition is telling you to breastfeed/chestfeed, babywear, playfully interact with your baby through some bellytime, and sleep with your baby on a safe surface, take heart and know that you are part of an amazing continuum through millennia!
About the author: Allyson Wessells is a physical therapist and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) with Nurture Columbus, in Columbus, Ohio. As a PT and IBCLC, she focuses on optimizing nourishment and growth for lifelong health. Other services include presentations emphasizing the importance of breastfeeding and infant neurodevelopment as foundations for preventative healthcare.