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There is little new parents obsess over as much as sleep. We go to great lengths to help our babies sleep because when they sleep we finally can, too. For exhausted parents who are warned against bed sharing but want their baby close, in-bed sleepers are intriguing products—a compromise between the convenience of co-sleeping and the separation of a crib or bassinet.

They make parents feel safer when bed sharing, but are in-bed sleepers safe?

This week, Consumer Reports published an investigation into in-bed sleepers which linked the product category to 12 infant deaths between 2012 and 2018. This investigation was published the same day as a new study in the journal Pediatrics which found less than a third of American babies are only put to sleep in the products the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends: firm and flat cribs, bassinets, or Pack N' Plays which meet the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Dr. Ben Hoffman is a pediatrician and the Chair of the AAP's Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention Executive Committee. He tells Motherly he feels a lot of compassion for parents who choose not to follow the AAP's safe sleep recommendations in the hope of getting more sleep, but he's also gravely worried for them. "I'm afraid that what's going to happen is exactly what we saw with the Rock 'n Play," he says.

A baby registry staple, the Rock 'n Play was an inclined sleeper, the design of which went against the AAP's recommendation that babies sleep on a flat surface. Earlier this year, a Consumer Reports investigation into infant deaths linked to inclined sleepers prompted a recall of the Rock 'n Play and similar products. Many fans of the Rock n' Play criticized the recall efforts, suggesting supervision, not the design, was a factor in the deaths of 59 babies in inclined sleepers.

The CPSC eventually hired a third party expert (a specialist in infant biomechanics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to conduct a study. According to the CPSC, that study "examined how 10 infants move and use their muscles on flat, inclined surfaces, and in selected inclined sleep products, and whether such product designs directly impact safety or present a risk factor that could contribute to the suffocation of an infant."

The study concluded that the inclined sleep products that were tested were not safe for sleep, and the expert behind the study says the kind of testing she did (after millions of inclined sleepers were sold) should be done before products go to market.

Dr. Hoffman agrees and worries that because there are currently no federal safety standards for in-bed sleepers and boxes "it's sort of the Wild West" for manufacturers. He worries parents are being taken advantage of by companies and compares sleep products that are hailed as miracles to snake oil.

"Every parent struggles with sleep and they are desperate for something…they sell hope to a family," he explains.

The 'Consumer Reports' investigation

Consumer Reports examined data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and names three in-bed sleeping products in its investigation: The popular DockATot, the Baby Delight Snuggle Nest Infant Sleeper and the SwaddleMe By Your Side Sleeper.

Rachel Rabkin Peachman, an investigative reporter with Consumer Reports, notes that the CPSC "inadvertently disclosed information about the specific products involved in the incidents."

Motherly has reached out to all of these brands for comment on the Consumer Reports investigation. As of this writing DockATot has not responded.

SUMR Brands, the parent company of Summer Infant, maker of the SwaddleMe By Your Side Sleeper has responded with the same statement it provided to Consumer Reports.

The company states, in part: "The Summer Infant By Your Side Sleeper is not responsible for any deaths. Independent medical examiner reports of two incidents where a Summer in-bed sleeper was present in 2014 and 2015 concluded the in-bed sleeper was not a contributing factor to a child's death."

A spokesperson for Baby Delight stated in an email to Motherly that the "Consumer Reports article is a bit misleading since it equates our Snuggle Nest products with inclined sleepers." The Snuggle Nest is not an inclined sleeper and that's not what Consumer Reports or Dr. Hoffman are suggesting. Both, however, suggest parents stop using the product.

Consumer Reports states it identified two deaths that involved the SwaddleMe By Your Side Sleeper, two deaths involving the DockATot as well as three deaths that involved the Baby Delight Snuggle Nest Infant Sleeper.

Baby Delight tells Motherly that "based on the information from the CPSC Investigations, each incident was apparently a result of caregiver behavior contrary to safe sleep practices and warning labels present on product and in instruction manual." The AAP points out that the very existence of the Snuggle Nest Infant Sleeper is contrary to safe sleep practices.

The backstory on in-bed sleepers

Two of the products named in the Consumer Reports investigation, the Baby Delight Snuggle Nest and the SwaddleMe By Your Side Sleeper are comprised of a mattress with low, mesh walls. (Baby Delight describes its product as having "breathable mesh walls along with solid plastic inserts for stability.")

The third product, the DockATot, is softer, a product in a category sometimes known as baby nests or baby pods.

That's the language the FDA, the UK's Lullaby Trust (with support from Public Health England) and Health Canada have used when warning parents not to put babies to sleep in products that have soft bolsters on sides, like the DockATot does. Such bolsters pose a suffocation risk, the FDA notes.

On its website DockATot states the company "recognizes that many people believe strongly that infants and young children should never sleep with adults in their bed, while others believe that such co-sleeping provides benefits. Many who choose to co-sleep with a DockATot dock find that the sides help establish a separate space for the baby that is close by to the parent(s)."

DockATot also states its product should never be used in a crib or playpen.

Safe sleep recommendations

But a quick Instagram scroll through #dockatot proves that many parents are using the DockATot in cribs, and that is not the only way in which parents are ignoring safety recommendations from the makers of sleep products and from pediatricians.

A study released this week in the journal Pediatrics found that while most new parents put their babies to sleep on their backs, only 42% follow the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation against soft bedding, and just 32% were using a separate, approved sleep surface.

Less than a third of American babies are only put to sleep in the recommended products firm cribs, bassinets, or Pack N' Plays which meet the safety standards of the CPSC.

This follows research published in 2018 which found the number of American babies dying by suffocation has been on the rise in recent years. The majority of these suffocation deaths happened while these babies were in bed. In an email interview with Reuters last year, one of the study's co-authors suggested that the rise in suffocation deaths could be because parents are ignoring safe sleep recommendations, but suggested "It may also be that we have dangerous items on the market and in our homes, and they need to be removed."

The recent CPSC study found that was the case with the Rock 'n Play, but even though the product was the subject of a widely publicized recall, some caregivers and parents and still choosing to use the inclined sleeper.

Calls for change 

A parent himself, Dr. Hoffman does not want to minimize how much parents struggle with sleep in the early weeks and months of parenthood, calling it "one of the hardest things many people will go through in life."

It really is that hard, he says. But he also says in-bed sleepers are not the solution exhausted parents are looking for. "I've testified a couple of times before the Consumer Product Safety Commission about them, and I feel about them, honestly, the way that I felt about the inclined sleepers—that there's really not a safe way that they can be used," he tells Motherly.

And as much as Dr. Hoffman feels for parents going through sleep deprivation in early parenthood, he knows that losing a child to SIDS is so much harder and he wants lawmakers, manufacturers and the end consumers to think about that when considering infant sleep products.

"Parents are desperate for something because their child is unhappy and it makes them unhappy and everybody's miserable. But the fact of the matter is...it's just not worth the risk."

Hoffman is calling for regulatory change, but he says parents can keep their babies safer by sticking with products that meet the CPSC's standards and by always putting babies to sleep on a flat, firm sleep surface with no soft bedding, bumpers, bears or blankets. "Buy a crib or bassinet that conforms to the Consumer Product Safety Commission crib and bassinet standard. Absolutely. Anything that does not is not a safe place for a baby to sleep unattended."

[Correction: October 23, 2019: A previous version of this post stated the expert behind the new Rock 'n Play study is a specialist in infant biomechanics at the University of Arkansas. She is with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.]

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Last year, Bode and Morgan Miller welcomed identical twin boys into the world, and now the couple is giving us a glimpse into how things went down on that fateful day by showing the story of their twin home birth.

"Presenting…Birth Story with Bode," Morgan wrote in an Instagram Story (it's in her highlights). "I'm sharing because...our bodies are beautiful. It's a scary emotional ride but d*mn, we are capable of so much more than we even know."

bode morgan miller twins home birth

But in order to really tell their birth story, the couple had to go back to nearly a month before their babies came into the world. Bode predicted the babies would be born on his birthday, October 12, but the day came and went with no signs of labor. Instead, Morgan carried the babies until November 8. They chose to induce on that day and they were prepared to proceed with a home birth as planned.

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However, Morgan had a sudden change of heart. "You said, 'I don't want to do this today. I'm going to the hospital. I want to get an epidural,'" Bode recalled. "I said, 'Well that's not going to happen. That window has passed.'"

And so a home birth it was! Right before the midwives arrived at the Miller family's home, it became pretty clear that the babies were ready to make their big debut. "You went over to the other side of the bed and said come push my hips… and within like three contractions I could really feel them going apart when I was pushing them together, which means that baby's head is really getting low down in there and pushing apart your pelvis," Bode said, adding that he felt the baby's head emerging.

Both boys were born quickly, before the family's medical team could arrive.

"They were like, 'Oh my god...what are you doing?" Bode recounted. "I was like, I guess having babies? I don't know."

Bode and Morgan named their twin boys Asher and Askel. They join big brothers Easton, 13 months, and Edward, 4, and Bode's children, Samuel, 6, and daughter Neesyn, 11. They also have a sister in heaven—as you may recall, Bode and Morgan tragically lost their daughter, Emeline, to a drowning accident at just 19 months.

While the twin birth was certainly dramatic, the couple couldn't be happier with how it all unfolded. "It was literally ideal," Bode said. "[It was] a lot for everybody to experience, you couldn't have had it be cooler for everybody involved."

News

Milestone moments aren't just for parents of babies. Designer Joanna Gaines shared the details of a momentous occasion on Instagram this week: her oldest son getting his driver's permit.

That might be a shock to you to those of you who have watched the Gaines' family grow up on HGTV, but Drake is 15 years old now. 😲

As any parent knows, the years just fly by when you're raising kids. Understandably, the fact that her firstborn is now old enough to get behind the wheel of a car had Gaines feeling more than a little emotional.

"Drake waited in line for an hour and finally got called up to get his drivers permit and then my 15 year old little boy drove home with Chip and all of a sudden he is all grown up," she wrote. Watching Drake check off that particular milestone was especially head-spinning for the mom since she's got a toddler at home, too.

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"It's crazy because this morning I spent most of my time teaching Crew how to go up and down the stairs because he is still so wobbly (his weight is not distributed evenly quite yet). He used to reach for my hand when climbing the stairs so I could help him and now he insists on doing it himself, " she continued. "The gap between these two circumstances with my boys is wide but the feeling on both is somehow the same."

Fair warning, the ending of Gaines' post is going to have you wiping tears from your eyes. "So many hard and beautiful moments of beginnings and ends," she wrote. "Parenthood is all about training these babies up to eventually let them go. May we savor all the big and quiet moments along the way."

Not wanting to miss any of those moments was a big part of the reason Gaines and her husband Chip decided to end their hit show Fixer Upper in 2018. With a family of fast-growing kids (the couple are also parents to kids Duke, Ella Rose, and Ella Kay), Gaines posted on her blog at the time that she and her husband wanted to step away from the show to give "lots of love and attention to both our family and our other businesses." That's left time to savor all those special events in their children's lives—whether it's a step toward adulthood or simply a step up the staircase. But fans shouldn't worry: the couple is still making time for work, too. Their own network is set to launch this summer.

News

It has been watched nearly 3 million times, and although this video from Hallmark was originally posted last May it is going viral again because for us moms, every day is Mother's Day.

The video is a commercial for Hallmark, but it is also so much more than that. It's a look into what motherhood is really like, the crying, the multitasking, the mess...and the bittersweet pain of watching them grow up.

The commercial follows a mom as her kids grow from toddlers eating off the floor to tweens who need privacy to teenagers who need to borrow the car...and finally, into parents themselves.

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Warning, watch this one with a tissue in hand:

"There will be a day when you hold them on your hip for the very last time..." a narrator tells us.

"There will be a day when you've made your final bubble beard...a day when you will no longer be greeted like a hero..or get the privilege of carrying them up to bed in your arms. Nothing can prepare you for these days."

And as we see the mom's daughter become a mom, the narrator says, "just as nothing can prepare you for the day when they finally understand how much you love them."

Are you crying yet, mama?

Thank you Hallmark, for showing the world that motherhood is so complex.

News

It's finally 2020. It's hard to believe but the old decade is over, the new one is here and it is bringing a lot of new life with it. The babies born this year are members of Generation Alpha and the world is waiting for them.

We're only a few days into the new year and there are already some new celebrity arrivals making headlines while making their new parents proud.

If your little one arrived (or is due to arrive) in 2020, they've got plenty of high profile company.

Here are all the celebrity babies born in 2020 (so far):

Laura Prepon is a mama x 2! 

Actors Laura Prepon and Ben Foster share 2-year-old daughter Ella and now share another "bundle of love".

Prepon announced her pregnancy back in October on Instagram:. "We are so excited to announce that our family is growing. Life is beautiful!" and has now announced her birth as well.

"Overwhelmed with gratitude." she captioned an Instagram photo of her baby.

Ashley Graham is a mama! 🎉

A new chapter is unfolding for model and podcaster Ashley Graham, who just announced she and her husband Justin Ervin have met their baby.

The baby arrived Saturday, according to a post made on Graham's Instagram Stories.

"At 6:00pm on Saturday our lives changed for the better," reads the Story. "Thank you for all your love and support during this incredible time."

Graham previously announced that she and Ervin were expecting a son. They initially announced the pregnancy on their ninth wedding anniversary.

Congratulations to Ashley and Justin!

Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden just welcomed a baby girl! 🎉

Surprise! Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden are ringing in the New Year as first-time parents!

"Happy New Year from the Maddens!" reads a birth announcement posted to both Diaz and Madden's Instagram accounts. "We are so happy, blessed and grateful to begin this new decade by announcing the birth of our daughter, Raddix Madden. She has instantly captured our hearts and completed our family."

Raddix Madden is the first child for Diaz, 47, and Madden, 40.

The couple say they won't be posting any pictures of their daughter on social media as they "feel a strong instinct to protect our little one's privacy."

Congratulations to the Maddens! 🎉

Dylan Dreyer of 'Today' is a mom of 2! 

Today meteorologist Dylan Dreyer and her husband Brian Fichera, welcomed their second child, Oliver George Fichera, the first week of January 2020. Oliver joins his big brother Calvin to make the family a foursome.

Dreyer is still recovering from birth but her voice was on TV this week when she called into her show with an update on her new family. "I feel good," Dylan told her colleagues. "I just feel so happy and so blessed."

Caterina Scorsone of 'Grey's Anatomy' now has 3 girls!

Caterina Scorsone of Grey's Anatomy has so much to be thankful for in 2020: She's now a mom of three! The actress announced the birth of her daughter via Instagram, noting that her baby's name is Arwen.

Arwen joins big sisters Eliza, 7, and 3-year-old Paloma, who has Down syndrome. Speaking on The Motherly Podcast last year, Scorsone explained how Paloma's diagnosis made her "whole concept of what motherhood was had to shift."

It is likely shifting again, as any mama who has gone from two kids to three knows.

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