Much is written and rewritten about co-sleeping, that is parents and their baby sharing a bed or sleeping together in some other way.  It seems to be one of the great debates of our world, just like nappies.  Cloth v’s Disposable.  Together v’s separate.  However, unfortunately the co-sleeping debate has a much more serious consequence.

I have never quite understood how parents can take the risk associated with co-sleeping.  I certainly do understand how mum’s can become tired, exhausted, sleep deprived and accidently fall asleep while feeding their newborn.  To purposely decide to co-sleep or to get into the habit of co-sleeping really should be a no-go zone.

It is well known, documented and even researched with a controlled study in England how co-sleeping, or sharing a bed with your baby can to lead to the worst outcome, that your baby suffocates and dies.  The statistics are alarming, if you do a bit of research, basically 1 in 2 babies who die were co-sleeping with a parent.  If you like percentages it’s about 54%.  In Victoria for example 33 of the 72 unexplained child deaths in the last 3 years were sleeping with an adult.

What a huge risk we parents are taking with our childs’ life.  No parent purposely goes about to smother their child, it is an accident and accidents happen, it is I believe logically a combination of fatigue, exhaustion, pillows, donors and soft beds that contribute to such a death.  Seen more recently and spoken about is the baby slings as your baby’s face is covered and or airway squashed, this is not the best way of holding your baby.

I often find myself recalling the words of a parent who I saw several years ago who was a forensic pathologist with the police force and had the job of being called out to the deaths of babies and children.  In his estimate it was more like 80% of deaths were in a situation of co-sleeping and the baby being smothered.

Whatever the benefits of co-sleeping, they are surely not worth such a risk to your baby.  We do not live in a society where co-sleeping is a necessity due to space, warmth or your baby will die, we do not sleep on mats on the floor in our culture today.  If you are currently co-sleeping make it a no-go zone now! If you are co-sleeping just to get. some. sleep.  then you need to solve the problem for all your peace of mind.  Babysmiles can help you to solve any existing sleep problem.

Nicole Pierotti

Written by Nicole Pierotti

© Copyright 2012. No reprinting or publishing without permission from writer. For permission or further information contact nicole@babysmiles.com.au.

5 Responses to Co-Sleeping…Make it a no-go zone

  1. Genie says:

    Wow these are some very alarming statistics.
    Can I see the research for myself? You have quoted numbers and people but there are no
    links or references to any studies.
    I base my parenting decisions on evidence based research, so I am really really interested in the claims you have made in regards to co-sleeping.
    I wonder what the variables are.. alcohol consumption, smoking, over heating…
    There are safe cosleeping guidelines which the SIDS foundation recommends.

  2. Vanessa says:

    Like the person who has commented above, I am also very interested in the references and studies from which these stats are drawn. I also base my parenting decisions on evidence based research so would be great if you could post links/ directly quote sources. Thanks

  3. JD says:

    I disagree completely with what you have written and if anyone examines your evidence critically they would realise that of the cases of infant mortality in Australia reported by SIDS there is a strong clinical correlation with alcohol/substance affected parents. So in simple terms the majority of infant deaths related to bedsharing are for children whose parent/guardian is affected by drugs or alcohol at the time.
    Secondly you are quoting these references as though they are the gold standard in medical research, the only website I would believe is the SIDS one and even that provides information to laymen, you should use journals such as the Journal of Paediatric Medicine or publications from JMA or AMA for accurate up to date information. I would suggest you do a search on Up-To-Date online for appropriate resources to improve future articles you publish to be more accurate.
    Thirdly you report bedsharing as a no-go zone however people have been bedsharing for centuries and in many countries it is still the normal thing to do and the incidence of SIDS is still significantly lower than in Australia so this is proof alone that bedsharing is not necessarily a major contributing factor in SIDS.
    I understand that you are publishing this information for the average reader who may have limited knowledge of child health, most of which they find on blogs and laymens articles, but if you are providing information as a health professional you need to provide a superior level of evidence and information. Being a child health professional myself I understand this and I would have expected more from you as well.

    • Your comment is timely, an Australian coroner John Olle investigating the death of four babies in seperate SIDS incidents in Australia yesterday warned: Sleeping with your baby leads to fatal consequences, with evidence that up to half of babies who are found accidentally dead, are found asleep in bed beside their parents. From 2008 to 2010, suffocation from sleeping with an adult was the cause of more than half of all sudden infant deaths in NSW. His words “I am satisfied sharing a sleep surface with an infant is an inherently dangerous activity,” “Caregiver/infant sharing of beds, sofas, mattresses and armchairs increases the risk of infant death from a sleep accident and may increase the risk on infant death from SIDS.” He also went on to say that many parents are unaware of the risks, or received inaccurate information on how babies should sleep…
      Sids and Kids general manager Ros Richardson begged parents to heed Mr Olle’s advice: ” We know from the statistics how incredibly dangerous it is to sleep with your baby. Babies are brought into bed for breastfeeding and for settling but they must go back to their own bed. Sleep deprived parents and those suffering post-natal depression were often the ones who fell into the trap of dozing off with their newborn.”
      The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “infants be placed on their backs to sleep, this applies to the first year of life, particularly important for the first six months when SIDS risk is the highest. It is also important to avoid placing your baby down for sleep on soft, porous surfaces such as pillows or quilts. A firm crib mattress covered by a sheet is the safest bedding.”
      Yes, bedsharing has happened in many cultures for centuries and still is the ‘done thing’ today in many countries, there is a range of reasons for this, the main one that is important to highlight with SIDS and the death of babies is that which is described by the American Academy of Pediatrics – the type of sleeping surface a baby is sharing, doonas, pillows, blankets, soft mattresses – my knowledge of other cultures is that the sleeping surfaces they are sharing do not comprise of this type of bedding.

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