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'Still Alive. Still Cute.' (SIDS Paranoia)

By Esther Haynes |

Hazel fast asleep

Hazel, sleeping a tad too deeply

Mike and I usually take turns checking on the baby at least every 45 minutes after we put her to bed and before we head in to sleep. A couple of months after Hazel was born, I asked Mike what exactly he does when he goes into her room. “I make sure she’s asleep, and then I listen to hear that she’s still breathing,” he said.

“Me too!” I answered.

Now, she’s six months old, and one of us will come back from checking on her and say, “Still alive! Still cute!” Then we’ll resume whatever we were doing. (It reminds me of an episode of “Intervention” I saw in which the son of an alcoholic woman tearfully told her that he was always checking to make sure she was still breathing as she lay passed out on the couch. But that’s totally different. Anyway.)

Sometimes Hazel will be in such a deep sleep that it’s hard to tell if she’s actually breathing. Like last night: When I got into bed, I leaned over her in the co-sleeper and listened, but couldn’t hear anything. So I stared at her chest to see if it was rising and falling—but in the weird sleep-suit thingee she wears, it was hard to tell for sure. So I turned on my book light and shone it on her eyelids to see if she stirred. Nothing. I wondered, “Should I risk waking her up?” Then I thought, “Yes!” So I finally put my hand on her forehead to A) make sure her body was still warm and B) to see if she reacted—which she did. “Aungh!” she grunted, then shifted her position. Finally I lay down, satisfied that I’d disturbed Hazel’s sleep enough to quell my paranoia.

Mike had a similar story last week when he took her to the grocery store in the front carrier: Hazel was so unresponsive at one point that Mike ended up taking her completely out of the baby carrier to make sure she was still with us. This was in a crowded NYC Fairway store. Of course, she didn’t nod off again after that.

Is this normal? When can we stop being so obsessive? Are you constantly afraid that your baby might die from SIDS, or are we going a little overboard? Let me know what you think.

More posts from Esther:

Should I Feed Baby the Foods That Make Her Cringe?

3 More Things for Moms to Worry About

Is My Baby Too Fat?

More on Babble

About Esther Haynes


Esther Haynes

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19 thoughts on “'Still Alive. Still Cute.' (SIDS Paranoia)

  1. Elissa says:

    It is definitely not just you. I was doing the dishes while my little man napped the other day and I got this overwhelming feeling that I should go and check on him. I tried to brush it off by telling myself that I would hear him, if he needed me, but then all I could think about was SIDS and whether he was breathing or not. I felt like a paranoid looney, especially when he was not only breathing, but still sleeping like an angel, but I know I couldn’t forgive myself if something was wrong and I hadn’t checked him.

  2. Naomi says:

    See, this is why T is making the breathing monitor! Because of people like us (who are also people like you)! Maybe you want one of the prototypes??

  3. Sarah says:

    I do this all the time. My 3 month old son is a very deep sleper and his Woombie makes it hard to tell if he’s breathing ok. I start by leaning over the crib and listening. Then I put my finger by his nose to check for breath. Then I put my hand over his belly… then if I haven’t been satisfied, I (in a panic) give him a nudge. I’d rather wake him up then sit there and freak out! My husband always compares me to the opening scene in Terms of Endearment LOL

  4. Lucky says:

    We do this. But we never say “alive” out loud because that would indicate that there is a life-shattering alternative.. I usually poke her and see if the color returns quickly, it doesn’t bother her. Once after a road trip my son was so unresponsive I yanked him out of his carseat. Poor thing was just trying to sleep. I check most frequently when she sleeps longer than normal. I think with my son it sputtered out around the 1 year mark, but I still check occasionally. If he’s not sleeping in his room where I don’t want to disturb him.

  5. Esther Haynes says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one. And Naomi, you’re right, I totally need one of T’s breathing monitors. Sounds perfect for OCD parents!

  6. jessica says:

    i still check on my 3 year old. it’s normal!

  7. Jennifer H says:

    It’s perfectly normal… and never goes away. I still check on my sister sometimes when she sleeps here on my couch… from a distance… and well, she’s 15. =P

    Investing in an AngelCare monitor might make you feel better. It’s what I plan to do for #2. For now, with my son (7 months old tomorrow), I check him regularly as well. It’s just a Mommy thing.

  8. Rose says:

    Honestly, this type of anxiety and paranoia is one of the reasons I only had one child. I freaked out all the time when my daughter slept a lot or was more quiet than normal, and I was afraid I’d be even worse with a second baby. Of course there were many more contributing factors in the decision to be a one-child family, but I really couldn’t imagine going through all that stress again!

  9. Amy K says:

    Man, it is good to know I’m not alone in this. While I’m glad we’re all hypervigilant about SIDS, I wonder what this is doing to our collective psyche! We start off our parenting lives with this constant state of hyper-anxiety, constant fear. It can’t be good for us as parents or people!

  10. Black Sheep says:

    You really need the Angel Care motion sensor baby monitor. I used these with my preemie twins (and again with my full-term daughter) because I was just so anxious and wanted peace of mind. Sure there are false alarms, but I would rather have false alarms then no alarms. I guess they are not too useful after six months though, since baby moves around so much. But at six months the risk goes way down because they ARE able to move and flip around.

    Maybe for your next baby?

  11. Nasrin says:

    Sometimes I’ve held my breath to make sure the chest movement is hers and not mine. Babies do sleep hella deeply! I’ve never woken her up though.

  12. Jen says:

    Here is a little trick to check if you baby is okay…. gently touch the top of her/his head. You can feel their pulse there because of the soft spot. An RN friend taught me this trick. I have a heavy sleeper and it is always hard to tell if she is alive when she sleeps.

  13. Nakia says:

    I used to put my hand quite gently on DS’s belly. It didn’t wake him, but I could feel his belly rise and fall as he breathed.

  14. Robyn says:

    Another great tip to check if they’re still alive when they’re in the deep sleep is to run your finger down his/her hand or foot. There is a general automatic curling reflex that goes on there. I learned this one working in childcare when we had to check the babies every half an hour!

  15. Lissa says:

    I was so paranoid I purchased the AngelCare monitors.. the $200 baby monitor :| She was a 28 week old preemie though so of course I was a little more freaked. I still check her chest rising and falling and have woken her up on occasion when I didn’t see anything :(

  16. crystal says:

    i lost my son to sids when he was almost 5 months old. i used to check him constantly and i will never forget checking him for the last time and not feeling his chest rise and fall. please read my story. much love to you and your little one.

  17. Luciana says:

    I do it too.
    not my husband, though. He’ll say “She’s fine. Get some sleep.” every time he sees me checking. When it’s his turn I ask if she is breathing and he just says yes, but I doubt he checks. He doesn’t want to wake her up.

  18. Tara says:

    Yes! So paranoid and I’ve totally woken my little one up poking her when I can’t tell if she’s breathing. She’s now rolling back to belly and thus my paranoid self is trying to wean her of the swaddle – not fun as you know. Enter your weird sleep thingee mentioned here – is it worth the money??? We don’t have a ton of cash to throw around but I would buy 3 if I knew that if would stop her hourly waking!!!

  19. me says:

    I do that sometimes even with the Angel Care breathing monitor on! I guess that’s in the mommy’s nature. but def the monitor has given me so much peace of mind. I get full night sleep now that he sleeps through the night, and yes there have been some false alarms especially now that he moves around his crib but I’d say we get those about once a week (he’s 9 months) and before the 6 months mark I never got a false alarm (other than me picking him up and forgetting about turning the monitor off)

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