For those mothers who do it, it’s a sensitive and personal issue. However, alarming new findings might change your mind about sleeping with a baby. We look the arguments for and against co sleeping, and how each side believes that they have the definitive research.
As a mother, it is natural to want to sleep with your baby. Some parents make a conscious decision to share a bed with their baby, rather than let them sleep in a cot next to the bed.
However, this is a controversial issue. Some countries, such as America and The Netherlands, actively advise parents not to share a bed with their baby. It’s often difficult to discriminate between conflicting research, especially when we are bombarded with new findings and opinions on a regular basis.
Sleeping with a baby – the defence
A recent article on Kidspot claimed that the “danger, danger alerts have been misleading.” It cited recent research by an Alaskan study, which argued that sleeping with a baby isn’t dangerous after all. The study found that 99% of bed sharing deaths involved the parents using tobacco or other substances. It also argued that many bed sharing deaths recorded didn’t happen in the bed – but rather a sofa or armchair which carry a higher risk to the baby.
Professor Catherine Fetherstone, who worked on the study, even went as far as promoting parents sleeping with a baby. She said: “When you remove deaths associated with sofa-sharing from the analysis, the rate of bed sharing deaths is lower than the rate found in babies sleeping by themselves in cots.”
“What we should be focusing on is minimising the known risks associated with SIDS and bed sharing, such as parents who smoke or are affected by alcohol and drugs,” Fetherstone added.
“Sharing a bed increases the chances of cot death fivefold”
Most of the research regarding this issue highlights the dangers of co sleeping.
Those who defend mothers sleeping with a baby have cited tobacco, drug substances and armchair/sofa deaths as a reason for skewing the results and making them unreliable.
However, research from the UK has come out this month which only looked at parents who didn’t smoke or take drugs and only shared a bed – not an armchair or sofa.
The results, which were reported by the BBC, found that sleeping with a baby (in a bed) “increased the chances of cot death fivefold.”
The research studied 1,500 cot deaths and concluded with these alarming results.
Prof Bob Carpenter, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, suggested that the UK and other countries should “take a more definitive stance against bed-sharing for babies under three months”.
It was found that 81% of the cot deaths in infants under 3 months could have been avoided if the parents didn’t share a bed with their baby.
Find out more on the link between cot deaths and parents sleeping with a baby:
What should you do?
Singapore has the lowest infant mortality rate in the entire world, at less than 2 deaths per 1,000. This of course doesn’t mean that Singaporean mothers don’t have to consider this issue. There are several things you can do to ensure your child’s safety at night.
1. Do not smoke, let your partner smoke, or anybody in the same room as your baby smoke. This includes both during and after pregnancy.
2. The safest position for a baby to sleep is on their back. Make sure your baby is in this position before they sleep.
3. The safest place for a baby to sleep is a crib or cot.
5. Ensure your baby doesn’t get too hot. Make sure their head is not covered by any blankets so they can breathe freely.
6. Never let yourself, or anybody else, fall asleep with the baby in an armchair or sofa.
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