Sleeping with Baby Dangerous, Study Says

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, In The News, Research Reveals: Babies

woman in bed with babyThe debate over attachment parenting just got a little more heated, with the release of a study reporting a fourfold increase in infant death from suffocation and strangulation. The study says an increase in the number of parents who share their beds with baby may be one cause for the statistical jump.

The report is issued by the Centers for Disease Control, and will appear in the February issue of Pediatrics. One fascinating bit of information included in the results is that the number of such deaths rose sharply after 1996, which is when parents were advised to no longer place infants on their stomachs while sleeping.

This may indicate that deaths previously attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome may have been caused by other factors, co-sleeping among them.

So why do parents sleep with their babies? Lots or reasons: ease of breastfeeding (which has also increased sharply in recent years), bonding, sickness ... there are plenty of ways for kids to wind up in bed with mom and dad. Heck, some people can't afford a crib, and in other cases, it's a cultural thing.

The report doesn't directly attribute co-sleeping with the sharp increase in death by suffocation, but it does seem to dovetail with other studies that indicate a rise in bed-sharing. The American Academy of Pediatrics frowns on the practice, and instead recommends having the child sleep in the same room, in his or her own crib or cradle.

The term "attachment parenting" feels so loaded and judgmental to me that I hesitate to even use it. No matter what "philosophy" you employ, I think moms and dads just want what's best for their babies. But maybe, as in this case, keeping your infant close may not be in their best interest.

What do you think about the family bed? Is it bonding or bad parenting? Do you co-sleep? Why or why not?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.