When David Brinkley shared a photo of his wife sleeping with their baby and two-year-old on Facebook over the weekend, it was meant to be a post celebrating motherhood. Instead, it sparked a heated debate over social media about the growing practice of “co-sleeping.”
The photo, which has been shared more than 25,700 times as of Tuesday afternoon, shows Brinkley’s wife Alora and their son taking a nap on either side of Brinkley’s baby daughter.
“Do I have to squeeze into a small corner of the bed sometimes? Yeah? But my God how beautiful does she look holding my children?” Brinkley, a resident of Oklahoma City, Okla., writes. “The thing is that our wives only experience these little seasons in motherhood for a short time…. But eventually our babies get bigger they grow up they get ‘too cool’ for snuggles so why would we as men want to steal a single second of this time from them?”
(Kids Health defines co-sleeping as “when a parent and child sleep in close social or physical contact of each other, meaning that each can tell that the other is nearby.”)
However, social media users were quick to criticize the sleeping arrangements.
“This is dangerous for the baby,” writes Cynthia Murphy on Facebook. “Babies should sleep Alone, on their Back, in a Crib. Remember the A,B,Cs of safe sleep.”
“What a loving and beautiful picture,” writes Kathie Jones. “HOWEVER… PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep the tiny babies out of the bed when sleeping. It is not safe!!!”
“I admire this man’s love for his wife,” says Jennifer Vattes. “However, [co-sleeping] is a serious risk for death and I wish Love What Matters had asked for another story and photo to celebrate this couple with.”
Others were more supportive.
“People really are quick to judge anyone who lets their child in their bed,” says Sinead Freer. “Life is way too short and the moments with your kids as kids are even shorter so enjoy the snuggles.”
“We have five children. And we co-slept with them. They don’t stay forever. And eventually we transition them into their own rooms,” Mel Kneisley says.
The thousands of comments prompted Alora to address the issue herself.
“As far as [co-sleeping] goes that was not the point of my husband’s post,” she says on Facebook. “We are all aware that the list of things we can NOT do as parents is much longer than the list of the things we CAN do. We are probably never going to do it all right but we do the best we can and go with our heart.”
She adds, “But I will not apologize or say that there is anything wrong with this picture.”
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, babies should not sleep in adult beds and or with other people, animals or objects around them.
These sleeping arrangements are unsafe as it can suffocate the baby and increase their risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
It is best if they sleep in a crib, cradle or bassinet alone without pillows, blankets, bumpers and other objects.
Latest numbers from Statistics Canada show Prince Edward Island as the province with the lowest infant mortality rate with 2.3 deaths per 1,000 births in 2013. The highest rate is in Nunavut with 18.2 deaths per 1,000 live births.
As of 2015, however, Canada’s infant mortality rate sits at 4.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, The World Bank reports.