What's it All About?
Revised October 2005
SIDS Studies have proven that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is greatly reduced for the breastfeeding, co-sleeping baby, when with non-smoking, sober parents in a standard adult bed with wedging dangers removed. The practice of room-sharing or breastfeeding alone cuts SIDS rates considerably. When combined with safe co-sleeping, the infant survival chances are even higher.
Parents Sleep Too The truth is, most parents get more sleep following natures plan. Still half asleep, mother may need to assist baby a bit when he nudges to nurse, but then the restful hormones released in mother and child through nursing lull both gently back to sleep. There is no waking to piercing hunger cries, adrenalin now surging through everyones veins; preparing the bottle; attempting to stay awake while feeding baby; attempting to put the now drowsier baby back down on a cold mattress promoting more adrenalin as baby loses his cozy place and cries once more; then trying to return to sleep again, dreading the next call.
Remember Babies dont turn off at night. We can see this as the co-sleeping baby will keep at least one foot in contact with one parent throughout the entire night. When baby awakens alone in a crib, and no protector is nearby, he learns to lower his trust in his caretakers. Parents dont turn off at night either. Just as a healthy parent never falls out of bed or loses her pillow, she is aware of the babys presence. She is also there to respond should the baby be in physical distress, and to protect should there be an emergency in the home.
Awakenings A baby in the family bed arouses to less-deep sleep states and short awakenings throughout the night, as the parental body helps to provide this proper regulation. It is known that this is very important in the prevention of SIDS. It has been shown that prolonged deep states of sleep, as occur after long bouts of crying, or when sleeping alone, are a major cause of SIDS. Most parents will prefer these healthy light arousals as they sleep, to climbing out of bed in response to loud crying bursts.
Danger in the Bed? Thorough studies that separate out statistics for smoking parents suggest that baby sleep in the non-smoking parental bed for best survival. A reported finding that 60 U.S. babies per year die in parental beds from entrapment or overlying was hugely publicized. Compare this to 3,000 U.S. SIDS deaths per year overall. SIDS rates are shown to be reduced with cosleeping, but this statistic doesn't make the news. Entrapment and suffocation deaths and injuries were once very high for crib sleeping infants, and still occur at a lower, but not always reported rate. The solution was to make the crib safer, not to throw out the baby. Family beds can be made safe from entrapment as well. Alcohol and drug use, are risk factors for overlying.
Most Dangerous Parental smoking, whether in the bedroom or not, (toxins come out of the lungs through the night), is a high SIDS risk factor for co-sleeping. SIDS rates appear high in adult beds overall when this factor is not removed from the statistics.
Prone to Danger As parents were encouraged through the last century to bottle-feed and place baby in a separate room at night, a new problem developed of frequent, loud bouts of crying during the night. It was then discovered that laying a baby prone (on tummy) to sleep greatly reduced babys awakenings during the night. We now know that this action has caused countless SIDS deaths, and it is no longer recommended. A baby nursing next to mother at night naturally sleeps on its side or back, in a position where it can nurse. Some spend time tummy-down on a parents (convex) chest. In this position, the brain stem is less impinged than on a flat mattress, and breathing and heartbeat are regulated by the parental cues.
Quotes from The BABY BOND:
"It's no wonder these "modern" parented babies now need harsh training and "expert" advice in order to sleep. Yet, nature has a wonderful plan that helps infants easily fall asleep."
Read how formula feeding doubles the infant death rate: my article as first published on Natural Family Online