New Study Highlights the Dangers of Co-Sleeping

When you’re taking care of a newborn, your days are long and your nights can seem endless.  Frequent feeding sessions have you depleted and drained, and it can be more convenient to keep your baby close by, in the bed or a sofa.  Although I never slept with my babies in my bed, it’s something I often thought about and know that many mothers have sworn by as one of the most intimate and special parts of motherhood. I did nurse my first child Hedley on our big comfy sofa and I dread to think that I likely fell asleep while doing so or while cradling him in my arms.

Co-Sleeping dangersPin for later!

Co-sleeping — whether in a bed or on a sofa — is a deeply personal issue and a very controversial one.  We all mean the best and want the best for our precious newborns.  Since I had Hedley in 2004, I’ve witnessed numerous debates on co-sleeping, usually batted around between moms and dadsand largely considered a matter of personal preference.  Yet in the wake of recent studies, co-sleeping now has risen to the rank of a public health issue due to the dangers of SIDS.  Please read on about a new study described this week in a New York Times article.

Co-Sleeping Dangers

According to the article, crib death affects about 1 in every 8 infants placed on sofas. This is absolutely shocking and heartbreaking news. You may be thinking, ‘But Melissa, I’m awake! I’ll be able to tell if my child is having trouble breathing or is in other danger!’ However, Doctor Colvin from the Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., states that “There’s a ‘fallacy that if I’m awake or watching, [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome] won’t happen.” This is because a sleep-deprived parent is more likely to fall asleep than they think while on the couch with their newborn. With the shape of the couch, it is shockingly easy for an infant to become wedged between cushions where they are unable to breathe. Therefore, just thinking ‘I’ll put the baby between myself and the back of the sofa’ can lead to unexpected grief and pain for a lifetime.

Preventing SIDS

How can one prevent SIDS? Many studies suggest that breastfed babies and those of non-smoking parents are at a lesser risk of crib-death. In addition, following the long-standing advice from pediatricians and putting your infant to sleep only on their back, on a flat surface without pillows or blankets, will prevent such cases. Dr. Colvin adds infants “need to sleep alone, on their back and in a crib, and it doesn’t matter if it’s for a nap or overnight.”

It is so, so sad that studies like this need to be done and articles to be published, due to the overwhelming number of SIDS cases in the world.  My heart goes out to these parents suffering from the loss of their loved ones.  But I am grateful the word is spreading on the dangers of co-sleeping. This practice of putting your child to sleep in their crib instead of keeping them close by your side can save your child’s life. For more on how our family has handled issues of co-sleeping, please watch these other videos!  And please weigh in below in the comments session.  We want to hear from you!

Stay safe, everybody!