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Co-sleeping may be a controversial topic among the general population, but according to a recent Inhabitots co-sleeping poll, the vast majority of our readers feel that co-sleeping is safe and healthy. Dr. James McKenna, a well-known Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) researcher agrees that co-sleeping is safer than crib sleeping. McKenna has spent 30 years researching babies and sleep, along with correlated issues, such as breastfeeding and SIDS. McKenna notes that co-sleeping (the act of sleeping in the same room as a child) and bed-sharing (the act of sharing a bed with a child) do hold some major benefits for both mother and child, including a possible reduced risk of SIDS.

Image © Flickr user Spigoo

McKenna notes the following co-sleeping and bed-sharing benefits in many of his research papers:

  • Reduced SIDS rate: An international childcare survey by the SIDS Global Task Force shows that cultures practicing the highest co-sleeping and bed-sharing rates also experience the lowest SIDS rates. Japan is a good example. In Japan co-sleeping and breastfeeding are both deeply ingrained cultural norms and Japan has the lowest rates of SIDS related deaths in the world.
  • Breastfeeding success: Bed-sharing can make breastfeeding easier to manage and may double breastfeeding sessions, while still allowing mamas and babies to get more sleep. Also, research shows that the easier breastfeeding is, the longer a mother will breastfeed. Of course the longer a mother breastfeeds the more benefits health-wise. For instance, the baby gets more important antibodies and nutrients, while mothers experience reduced breast cancer risks.
  • Quicker and more efficient baby care: The close proximity of baby and parent during co-sleeping allows the baby’s needs to be better, and more quickly met. For example, if a baby is choking, struggling to breathe or somehow covers his head with blankets, a co-sleeping arrangement alerts the parent to these issues. Crib sleeping, in another room, keeps the baby somewhat removed from immediate care.
  • Bonding success: For parents who work outside of the home, co-sleeping can allow for extra baby-parent interaction and is a great way to spend time together and grow the family relationship.

Image © Flickr user brad_holt

Co-sleeping eliminates faulty crib problems…

Beyond the basic health and bonding benefits of co-sleeping and bed-sharing, these practices can eliminate dangerous crib recall issues. While many organizations, such as The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), state that cribs are perfectly safe, the recent slew of crib recalls and incidents of children hurt by cribs says otherwise. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) pushes crib use as well, saying, “Cribs, bassinets and play yards are the safest places to place your baby to sleep.” Then ironically, and in the same breath, the CPSC notes, “Nearly 9 million cribs and numerous bassinets and play yards have been recalled since 2007.” And that’s just recalls up to 2007. The CPSC has actually issued 11+ other recalls in the past 5 years, involving an astounding 7 million+ drop-side cribs. These recalls were all due to suffocation and strangulation hazards. Not to mention that nearly 10,000 babies are injured in cribs annually. Bed-sharing allows your family to avoid crib recalls altogether. To learn more about the benefits of co-sleeping and bed-sharing, take a look at the resources below.

+ Co-sleeping Until Age 5 is Healthier, and Ways to Do it Safely

+ Why babies should never sleep alone

+ The University of Notre Dame Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab

+ The Natural Child Project – McKenna Library