Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sharing a bed with my baby is an informed choice.

Sleeping in while momma was up!
 I am sick and tired of being put on the side of the ignorant coin when it comes to co-sleeping/bed sharing whatever it is you call it these days if you are into technicalities.. 

You increase SIDS, You could suffocate your baby, The dangers are too many!, Research says it is dangerous, and my favorite.. "I know someone whose baby died, from bed sharing" or "I know someone who knows someone whose baby died from bed sharing" It happens so often I almost always want to beat them to the punch and ask "Let me guess.. you know someone affected right?" I am sorry but I am a little sceptical of it most times.. how convenient that that is always the "winning argument" . . After all who could argue with someones grief, immediately the person shuts down if you ask them the circumstances, where safety guidelines used? Was the parent intoxicated?  Did the person know they were a heavy sleeper? Did the baby just stop breathing? (Something that would be considered SIDS in a crib yet blamed on bed sharing if it happens in the parent bed how biased is that?)

I want to tell the parents who are shocked about co-sleeping.. and see it as neglectful..
The majority of us breastfeed, babywear, research what we do and put into our children, we get the best car seats, go by the safest guidelines.. and you think if we choose to share a bed with our baby that we do it because we're dumb or ignorant?  Nope.. we do it because we researched it.. because it works for us because we practice it safely.

When you see the Infant death Numbers resulting in bed sharing you are not seeing the whole story.

There is a term experts call "Chaotic bed-sharing" which is used to describe people who bed share not by informed choice but because
A) They cannot afford a crib
B) They do not have the living space/correct arrangements
C) They accidentally fall asleep with baby these are not people who regularly bed share.. parent could be intoxicated and fallen asleep with baby.. (Sadly some people do live like that)

When you see charts and studies this is what you see
CPSC Warns Against Placing Babies in Adult Beds; Study finds 64 deaths each year from suffocation and strangulation
now it doesn't tell you the circumstances.. if it was chaotic bed sharing or informed bed sharing.. if proper guidelines where practiced or not.. if the parent was intoxicated.. etc.. it just says babies died and we immediately flip.

Doesn't it seem fishy to you that the Consumer Product Safety commission would be issuing such statements? I mean are they saying beds are unsafe? No they're telling you the safest place is your crib.. the things they are there to regulate.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an independent agency of the United States Government created in 1972 through the Consumer Product Safety Act  States Government to protect "against unreasonable risks of injuries associated with consumer products.
The CPSC has the authority to regulate the sale and manufacture of more than 15,000 different consumer products, from cribs to all-terrain vehicles, and from barbecue grills to swimming pools. *wikipedia

They have the authority to regulate the sale and manufacture of cribs..
The same people who approved cribs that are now motioned to be made illegal.. the same cribs who have killed babies.

Why have they not gone to the extremes of telling you all cribs are unsafe? Of course they pinpointed drop side cribs and detailed how the accidents happened but they don't do the same with co-sleeping research.

Let me get back on the ball here.. and I this is not about which method is better if your baby in on a crib it's your choice nothing wrong with that.. whatever works for you in this case.. just like bed sharing is my choice. Especially because it has helped me a great deal with breastfeeding, I don't know if I would have made it this year breastfeeding if I had to get up to sit down and breastfeed everytime she woke up.

I cannot say Co-sleeping is 100% safe.. I would be lying  but you cannot say
Sleeping in a crib is 100% safe because.. given the recent news.. you would be lying too!

When we make an informed choice on bed sharing, we know to take precautions we know if we are capable or not.. I know someone who would have loved to co-sleep but she knew she is a heavy sleeper so bed sharing for her would be too risky. I also know of people who would have loved to as well but their husbands are the heavy sleepers or they use a CPAP Machine.. it's all about weighing your options and making an informed choice.

When my instincts told me to share a bed with my baby, I made sure to follow the guidelines and be safe about it.. I also rouse very easily something that is mentioned in  a sleep study done by Dr. James McKenna

"Anthropological and developmental studies suggest that mothers and infants are designed to respond to the presence of the other, and no data have ever shown that among mother-baby pairs who co sleep for breast feeding in a safe cosleeping/bed-sharing environment that mothers are unable to sense the proximity of their babies in order to avoid smothering them. Our own laboratory sleep studies of co sleeping/bed-sharing mothers infant pairs (2 to 4 month olds) reveal that both breast feeding mothers and their infants are extremely sensitive throughout their night - across all sleep stages - to the movements and physical condition of the other. The healthy infant, which includes most infants, are able to detect instances, where for example, their air passages are blocked. They can respond very effectively to alert the mother to potential danger, and they have the physical skills to maneuver out of danger, under normal circumstances. That being said, modern societies and the objects on which we sleep and the social and physical conditions within which bed-sharing can and often does occur especially among the urban poor forces professionals to be very guarded when discussing bed-sharing and/or co sleeping. The truth is that there is no one outcome (good or bad) that can be associated with co sleeping in the form of "bed-sharing, but rather a range of outcomes (from potentially beneficial to dangerous and risky) depending on the overall circumstances within which the co sleeping takes place. " READ MORE HERE....

Here's a Co-sleeping Fact sheet on "The Baby Bond"  I wish the facts would be a bit more updated but they put things into perspective nonetheless

Number of U.S. births year 2000: 4,058,814

Total infant deaths year 2000: 28,411
Age birth to 1 year. (6.9 per thousand)
Number SIDS deaths year 2000: 2,523
Defined as death with unexplained cause, birth to 1 year.
Total suffocation deaths year 2000: 1,000
Number of crib-related "accidents"/yr: 50
Number of playpen-related deaths/yr: 16
Number deaths/yr attributed to overlying: 19 Most are only "suspected."
Number of babies (0-2) dying in night fires/yr: 230 Many of which may have been retrievable if next to parent, not in another room of home. This is true for abductions and other night dangers as well.
Number of deaths/yr in adult beds reported as entrapment/suffocation between bed and wall, headboard, or other furniture, on water bed, in headboard railings, or tangled in bedding: 18 With side-rail: 1 That's 19 of the 60.
Number of deaths/yr reported as suffocation of unknown cause in adult bed: 13 These would be SIDS if in a crib. Remember, these do not necessarily involve co sleeping.
Number of deaths/yr in adult beds from prone sleeping: 5 Again, these are considered SIDS in cribs, and they are preventable in adult beds, as in cribs.

4/yr died not from falling out of adult bed, but from suffocating (pile of clothes, plastic bag) or other danger (such as drowning) after falling out.

13% of U.S. infants are routinely co sleeping with nearly 50% sharing bed for part of the nights. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 2000 Survey,

Number of U.S. infant lives that could be saved per year by exclusive/extended breastfeeding: 9,000 Exclusive/extended breastfeeding cuts SIDS risk and cuts overall infant death risk in half.

And My favorite reason to bed share?? this..
Kate Evans - The food of love
Again this is not a "bed sharing is better than crib sleep" post..  I just want to say.. I bed share.. I am aware of the "risks" I am informed and I know what I am doing.  But just like I take precautions with bed sharing,  if you use a crib, please take precautions as well... nothing is certain and nothing is 100% safe.
If you don't like the idea of bed sharing, maybe try the crib in your room.. I know with my first daughter.. I decorated this beautiful elaborate nursery only to not use it.. She slept in a crib but my instincts still told me to keep her nearby... I felt safer that way..
Either way.. know that my choice is not one done lightly.. I did what was right for us.


  1. My Husband and I have slept with our daughter in our bed from hours after she was born to now, I couldn't imagine doing it any other way. Even when I'm frustrated and my arm has fallen asleep from holding it in a weird position to make her more comfortable I couldn't bear the thought of moving her to the crib.

  2. Great post! I especially appreciate that you have pointed out that most of us who co-sleep follow other natural parenting approaches as well and have done our research on all matters relating to our babies - a LOT of research!
    It's so interesting to me that some people would think co-sleeping to be neglectful...not trying to sound judgemental - but I feel quite the contrary, it makes me much more observant. I LOVE how in tune with eachother baby & I are throughout the night. Being right next to her, I would know immediately if something was wrong. I do acknowledge that I am a light sleeper - and that it would not be safe for a heavy-sleeping mama. But then I love the idea of the crib in the room with Mama :)
    I feel so lucky to have a husband who 100% supports bed sharing!!

  3. We have also co-slept since the night she was born. Our midwife was a great resource for that decision too. Our daughter is 7 months now, and I wouldn't for a moment consider trying to sleep apart. Having her sleep in her crib, though it is also set up in a cute little nursery, seems cruel and unnecessary.

  4. "I cannot say Co-sleeping is 100% safe.. I would be lying but you cannot say
    Sleeping in a crib is 100% safe because.. given the recent news.. you would be lying too!"

    Well Said! I "bedshared" for 15 months with my girl she self-led herself to a crib at that point but every couple of weeks we get a night in snuggled together like old times. I LOVED sleeping with her it was like sleeping with my own personal teddy bear to snuggle and breath in her I don't know how to say it just breath in deep that she was beside me like her presences like deep sigh of contentment with her beside me. Kinda can't wait to maybe try for a 2nd baby in 6 months or so just to get a bed parnter again.

  5. Wonderfully written!
    My twins were born premature and were in the NICU for 3 weeks and 6 days spanning 2 different hospitals. The first one had them co-bedding and then when they were transferred the first thing the new hospital did was split them up into separate cribs because they said it was against AAP guidelines. I was furious but ultimately lost that fight. They also made me sign papers before being released from the hospital that I would never co-sleep with my babies or allow them to sleep with each other under any circumstances. Guess where they spent their first night home, and every night since at. ; )

  6. I want to add that having a baby makes you a lighter sleeper! I used to sleep through anything and since having my son, I awake much more quickly and easily, yet I still feel just as rested. They say not to have the baby near the dad as they aren't as aware, but under normal circumstances my husband is very aware of the baby as well. (I was very careful with that in the beginning though.)

    As a breastfeeding mama, my baby just feels like he's part of me and I can't imagine him sleeping anywhere but next to me. As he gets older and can sleep longer stretches, you'd think I'd take advantage and have him in the co-sleeper more, but the bigger he gets the more I enjoy the cuddles!



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