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Baby in Bed with Mom and Dad

The Co-Sleeping Controversy


by / Views 2157 / May 4, 2015

Where do you and your little one sleep? In separate rooms, in the same room, or even in the same bed? Supporters of bed-sharing believe your bed is where your baby belongs, all night, every night. But others worry that co-sleeping poses some potentially serious health risks. Where do you stand? Here at Pure Living, we provide the information for you to make the decision.

What exactly is “co-sleeping”?

By definition, “co-sleeping” is when a parent and child sleep within “sensory” distance from each other. This means that each person can sense the presence of the other by means of sight, touch, or even smell while sleeping in the same bed.

What are the benefits?

Dr. James J. McKenna, a professor of anthropology and director of the Mother-Baby Research Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, is on the supportive end of this sleeping arrangement. According to McKenna, humans are born neurologically premature. Starting out with only 25% of adult brain volume, babies are the most contact-dependant, vulnerable primate-mammal of all. With this strong dependency, a baby’s physiological system functions best when in contact with the mother, who regulates the baby’s function much like the womb. McKenna says that touching an infant changes their breathing patterns, stress levels, blood pressure, growth rate, as well as many others. Co-sleeping may also encourage breastfeeding, as it is more convenient for nighttime breastfeeding when sharing the same bed.

What are the risk factors?

Although babies are contact-dependant, various U.S. medical groups warn parents that there are potentially serious risk factors associated with co-sleeping. When sharing sleeping arrangements, the risk of suffocation, strangulation, and even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) goes up. The American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) states that co-sleeping is the most common cause of deaths in babies ages 3 months and younger. Since babies should always be placed on their backs without any pillows, blankets or toys, co-sleeping in regular beds increases potential hazards. To combat this, both the APP and the U.S. Product Safety Commission suggest room-sharing instead of bed-sharing.

Sleeping arrangements differ with every family, so do what works best for your family and trust yourself that you know your baby better than anyone else. Every family and every baby is unique. The way you decide to sleep is no different.

Photo courtesy of Burlington Vt Moms Blog

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