I just read a news story about 2 infant deaths last week in the City of Milwaukee due to parents rolling over on their babies while allowing the infants to sleep in the parent’s beds. Apparently, this is such an ongoing issue within Milwaukee that the mayor has put money into an ad campaign against co-sleeping and the City has even begun offering free cribs and pack n’ plays for those parents who can’t afford a bed for their child.
I wanted to take this blog as an opportunity to weigh the pros and cons to co-sleeping especially in light of the number of infant deaths due to this. I don’t believe in co-sleeping. Every pro I have located seems more like an excuse to promote laziness in parents, but that’s just my opinion.
For those of you unsure what exactly co-sleeping is, it is basically allowing your infant to share the same bed as you do. It’s a practice in a lot of Third World countries but is quite controversial in Western civilization.
The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) frowns upon co-sleeping for a few reasons including risk of suffocation, strangulation, and increased likelihood of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends room sharing as opposed to co-sleeping for those parents who can’t bare to be separated from their children. So, you have two of the highest organizations who focus a lot of their time and energy on preventing infant deaths basically stating that co-sleeping shouldn’t happen.
From what I’ve read the pros for co-sleeping include the following: it can promote breastfeeding and bonding, it’s more convenient, easier for a nursing mother to get her sleep cycle in sync with that of her baby, helps babies fall asleep more easily, and helps parents who work during the day regain the closeness they miss by working. Now I want to offer a counter to each one of those reasons.
Promotes breastfeeding and bonding: Breastfeeding is the best thing for your child. You don’t need any “reason” outside of the antibodies found within the mother’s milk to promote breastfeeding. As for the bonding end, that’s just a cop-out to be lazy. You can bond in so many other ways with your child that wouldn’t put his or her life at risk.
Convenience: Give me a break! When you have a child, convenience goes out the door. Everything becomes a production and if convenience is what you’re looking for, then make sure you’re rich enough to afford a nanny or just don’t have children.
Easier for a nursing mother to get her sleep cycle in sync: Again another excuse. Many mothers who have participated in co-sleeping have stated that they DON’T sleep as well because they are trying to be too aware of their child in the bed with them and not allowing themselves to get into a deep sleep.
Helps babies fall asleep faster: This may be true, but again this goes hand-in-hand with convenience. Plus co-sleeping can confuse a child when they get older and you’re looking for them to go to bed on their own or before you. Separation anxiety can also come into play here as well with the child.
Now, I know that many moms out there are definitely for co-sleeping and many of you are going to be pretty peeved at me for saying it’s wrong. It’s a personal decision and my choice is that it’s not worth risking my babies health and or life just to have him in the bed with me.
If you are going to co-sleep, here are a few things you should follow:
- always put your baby on his or her back.
- always leave his or her head uncovered.
- make sure your bed’s headboard and footboard don’t have any openings.
- make sure the mattress fits snugly in the bed frame.
- don’t let you’re baby sleep alone unattended.
- no soft mattresses.
- no pillows, comforters, and quilts.
- do not drink alcohol, take medications, use drugs or smoke.
- do not allow the bed to be near in blinds and/or draperies.