That sounds like a news headline, doesn't it?
I can just see the story now, warning parents of all the potentially frightening consequences of sharing sleep with your baby.
There are a lot of scares around the Internet and on television about cosleeping (or bedsharing, sleepsharing, the family bed, whatever you want to call it...). Some of these warnings come from credible organizations. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, for example, cautions about the "hidden hazards" of putting a baby in an adult bed and the 1999 CPCS Chairman stated that, "the only safe place for babies is in a crib..."
But I'd like to clear a few things up about the "dangers" of cosleeping.
For starters, you may want to read the research and work of Dr. James McKenna, an anthropologist and professor at the University of Notre Dame. Check out this excerpt from his article, Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone.
"Often news stories talk about 'another baby dying while cosleeping' but they fail to distinguish between what type of cosleeping was involved and, worse, what specific dangerous factor might have actually been responsible for the baby dying. Such reports inappropriately suggest that all types of cosleeping are the same, dangerous, and all the practices around cosleeping carry the same high risks, and that no cosleeping environment can be made safe.
Nothing can be further from the truth. This is akin to suggesting that because some parents drive drunk with their infants in their cars, unstrapped into car seats, and because some of these babies die in car accidents that nobody can drive with babies in their cars because obviously car transportation for infants is fatal. You see the point.
When done safely, mother-infant cosleeping saves infants lives and contributes to infant and maternal health and well being. Merely having an infant sleeping in a room with a committed adult caregiver (cosleeping) reduces the chances of an infant dying from SIDS or from an accident by one half!"
He also points out that, "the highest rates of bedsharing worldwide occur alongside the lowest rates of infant mortality (including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) rates)."
And he notes that UNICF, the World Health Organization, the USA Breastfeeding Committee, and La Leche League International all support bedsharing.
Dr. Sears is another highly regarded physician that is quick to outline the many benefits of safe co-sleeping and to give guidelines related to sleeping safely with your baby.
I'll leave you with a quote by Dr. Sears: "The bottom line is that many parents share sleep with their babies. It can be done safely if the proper precautions are observed. The question shouldn't be "is it safe to sleep with my baby?", but rather "how can I sleep with my baby safely?.""
Well said, Dr. Sears. Well said.
YOUR TURN: Do you cosleep with your baby for part or all of the night? Why or why not?