Is co-sleeping dangerous?

A UK review of five previous studies on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), or the unexplained death of a baby under the age of one found that “88% of the deaths [out of 1,500] that occurred when a child was sleeping with the parents would NOT have occurred if the child had not been sleeping in the same bed as the parents,” according to the Mail Online.

This has led to the Department of Health in the UK urging new moms to get infants to sleep in cots for the first six months.

The review has come under fire from many who choose co-sleeping for different reasons, who insist that under ordinary conditions the practice is safe.
Co-sleeping involves a baby sleeping in bed with the mother or both parents. It’s a focal part of attachment parenting which encourages moms to spend as much time as possible with babies, including sleeping next to them and feeding babies on demand. It is also chosen by mothers as an effective way of getting more sleep, as well as more convenient when it comes to breastfeeding.

Sarah Ockwell-Smith, author of BabyCalm, said to the Mail (of co-sleeping): “It is the most common way of sleeping in Japan and they have the lowest SIDS rate in the world,” adding the caveat that a baby in a sleeping bag should be placed on top of the parent’s duvet, never underneath.

Other findings in studies on co-sleeping suggest:
  • The baby should sleep on the mother’s side of the bed, as fathers are “less sensitive” to the presence of a baby and may roll over onto the baby.
  • Formula-fed babies do not have the immunity-boosting benefits of breast milk, and are “more susceptible to SIDS.”
Ockwell-Smith disagrees, however, saying that co-sleeping and increased skin-on-skin contact produces the hormone oxytocin which promotes bonding.

While the debate on co-sleeping ranges through many other topics such as the effects on the relationship of the couple, but it’s also a decision that many couples insist is the right thing to do, provided that they take precautions not to harm their baby.

It is known that premature babies and babies with heart/respiratory problems are more susceptible to SIDS, as well as babies whose parents smoke/drink/take drugs.

Yet another study in the US found that “rates of sudden infant death syndrome, also known as cot death or crib death, have plummeted in countries where health workers have counselled parents and caregivers to put infants on their backs to sleep, to avoid keeping rooms too warm and to keep loose blankets and pillows away from infants.”

Do studies affect the ways in which you look after your baby?

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
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