Sharing Beds With The Baby: Is It A Healthy Practice?

bed sharing with infant

Photo Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3490025/Half-mothers-lie-sharing-bed-babies.html

Do you share a bed with your infant? For sure, a diverse array of answers could pop up. Some studies found out that bed-sharing with your baby can be beneficial while others also deem it risky. So, what should the best approach be?

There was a study reported by Medical News Today showing that bed-sharing is the main cause of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS. Bed-sharing is said to be the primary cause of SIDS among infants between 1 and 12 months old. Bed sharing could lead to overheating, airway obstruction, head covering, and tobacco smoke exposure. Furthermore, bed-sharing could heighten the chances of risks like accidental injury and death, like asphyxia, suffocation, falls, entrapment, and strangulation. Infants have immature motor skills. Thus, it’s apparently hard for them to get away from potential threats all by themselves. The act of bed-sharing with a baby is also riskier if a parent smokes, uses alcohol, or takes drugs.

bed-sharing-with-baby

Photo source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284275.php

The Reason Most Parents Prefer Bed-Sharing

The main reason most parents, especially mothers, opt for bed-sharing with their baby is to enable prolonged breastfeeding.

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine advocates bed- sharing in terms of breastfeeding. Most moms find breastfeeding somewhat a struggle. They need to go out of bed lots of times through the night to feed their infant. Doing this each time could be taxing on their end, causing some moms to give up breastfeeding for good and just proceed with formula feeding.

When the infants bed-share with their moms, they’ll be happier as they wouldn’t have to cry to get their mother’s attention and the mother doesn’t have to pull herself out of bed each time. The mom just lies on her side facing her infant with her lower arm up and her knee bent. This position creates a secure “Cove” which avoids her from rolling towards the baby and gets rid of anyone else rolling into that space. On the other hand, the baby remains oriented in that protected cove. The parent and child’s sleep cycle then becomes synchronized, minimizing the stress levels.

Mothers who get the best sleep are those who exclusively breastfeed and bed-share with their babies.

Benefits and risks of bed-sharing

To give you a better view of both sides of the coin, let’s tackle further on the list of benefits and risks of bed-sharing with your infant.

In comparison that what most studies claim, there are certain health experts who believe bed sharing with your baby can reduce the chances of SIDS– is safely done, of course.

Dr. Sears is one of those health specialists who also believe so. To support their claim, they’ve cited countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa as an example. Bed-sharing are most common in these places, yet they have the lowest number of SIDS cases. According to their claim, secure co-sleeping minimizes the risks of SIDS.

Furthermore, bed-sharing also enables good bonding between the baby and his parents According to the pediatrician Dr. Susan Markel, babies have an innate longing to be held and touched. They love physical closeness day and night. This sort of bond is important to meet an infant’s need for comfort, warmth, and safety.

Despite these alluring pros, some health care advocates still believe that it still increases the risks of SIDS and that the other benefits it offers can never outweigh the drawbacks. They’ve cited other cons of bed-sharing. Some parents think that making your children get used to sleeping with you all the time will give you a hard time persuading them to move out later in life. Some also believe that the act of bed-sharing makes children grow dependent.

However, there was a study published in 2011 stating that bed-sharing with children ages 1-3 does not have any long-term negative impact on the children’s cognition and behavior when they turn five years old.

‘No golden rule’ for bed-sharing

In spite of the unending debates on whether bed-sharing is good or not, health organizations and experts agree that the final say comes from the parents.

There is no such thing as a golden rule in terms of bed-sharing. Whatever is suitable for you and your family, it’s going to be the most comfortable setup.

As parents, you just want what’s best for your babies. You need to weigh out the pros and cons well in order for you to come up with the best decision. Talk with your partner and see which option suits your family best. Think about which is your top priority—your child’s safety, the convenience on either end, or the emotional safety of your child.

AAP recommendations for safe infant sleeping environments

As mentioned above, AAP does not advocate bed-sharing. However, they do recommend room-sharing. Parents should ideally sleep in the same room with their child but not on the exact same surface.

It’s suggested that babies should be placed on their supine position in a bassinet, portable crib/ play yard, or safety-approved crib. The cribs must have a solid mattress covered by a suitable sheet. It’s also discouraged to place soft objects, like pillows, quilts, pillow-like toys, sheepskins, and comforters in the infant’s sleeping area since these soft materials could increase the risks of SIDS, entrapment, suffocation, and strangulation.

The sleeping environment of the baby must also be smoke-free. And the area must also be not too warm as it also heightens the chances of SIDS.

Use a pacifier at bed time to reduce the risks of SIDS. However, just avoid those items claiming to reduce SIDS risk since no adequate evidence has been shown that they actually work.

Parents should consider these recommendations for the safety of their child.

Safer bed-sharing

Parents still have the freedom to choose whether to bed-share with their infant or not. However, there could be occasions when it unexpectedly happens.

The Baby Friendly Initiative from UNICEF gave further recommendations for parents about this matter. According to them, it is not safe to bed-share with babies in their earlier months or if they’re premature or have a very small birth weight.

Like the AAP, UNICEF also recommends that babies must be kept away from pillows to get rid of the risks of suffocation. Also, the infants must be safe from falling out of the bed or becoming trapped between the wall and the mattress. Also, as parents, make sure that the bedclothes don’t cover the infant’s face. Infants must not be left alone in the bed just in case they get to move into more dangerous positions. And again, parents must not share a bed with their baby if they smoke, take drugs, or drink alcohol.

 You can know further details about safe infant practices by visiting healthychildren.org.

After having read this article, you have been enlightened about the pros and cons of bed-sharing with your baby. It’s up to your whether you’re going to continue bed-sharing or start bed-sharing, or never try bed-sharing with your baby at all. There are multiple factors to consider, but parents do know best because they only want only the best for their baby’s safety and welfare. Just consider the recommendations and tips above to strengthen your decision-making and to weigh out the pros and cons in the most suitable way.

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