A recent UK study published in the British Medical Journal found that among 80 cases of SIDS studied, 54 percent happened while co-sleeping with an adult, a finding similar to other co-sleeping studies. But they also found that a large percentage of their control group were also co-sleeping, and none of them had died of SIDS. So they dug a little deeper.
What they found was that babies who died while co-sleeping were more likely than the control group to have slept with a parent who’d been drinking or using drugs. And they were also more likely to have died while sleeping with a parent on a sofa.
In an odd way, this study seems to actually support co-sleeping … with conditions. Study co-author Peter S. Blair told ABC News:
“The safest place for an infant to sleep is in a cot [crib] beside the parents’ bed. Based on evidence from research into SIDS, it is questionable whether advice to avoid bed sharing is generalizable and whether such a simplistic approach would do no harm.
“Parents of young infants need to feed them during the night, sometimes several times, and if we demonize the parents’ bed, we may be in danger of the sofa being chosen.”
Basically, if you tell a parent not it’s not safe to bring a child to bed, they might just bring her to the sofa instead. Blair and his colleagues believe that co-sleeping deaths may have more to do with parenting behavior and education than positioning itself. Drugs, alcohol, sleeping with a pillow or heavy blankets, or attemping to sleep with baby on a sofa may put babies at higher risk of dying from suffocation or SIDS than parents who co-sleep conscientiously.
That said, most experts believe that babies are safest in a crib, bassinet, or co-sleeper next to the bed for the first six months of life. In Maine, three babies have died just this month after sharing a bed with a parent.
Did you co-sleep with your kids? Or do you think that babies are safe in their own bed at night?