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Co-sleeping: Right or wrong?

Author Alex Bellamy
Submitted 03-06-2008

Co-sleeping, also known as ‘the family bed’, can be a contentious issue. Some say it is a great way to help parents bond with their baby, to make breastfeeding easier and to comfort infants, while others say the practice is dangerous and increases the risk of infant death syndrome.

Officials in Nassau County, New York, have decided which side of the fence they fall on – county executive Thomas Suozzi joined state social services today for a press conference on the dangers of co-sleeping.

“Parents are working longer and longer hours and [co-sleeping] is a way to spend time with their children, but they should be aware of the safety risks,” newsday.com quoted him as saying.

Mr Suozzi noted that 89 infants state-wide have died in family bed incidents since 2006, most of which were caused by the mother rolling onto their baby.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also advises against the practice, recommending in a 2005 report that parents never sleep with their child in bed with them.

However, not all experts agree. Academic studies have found that babies who share a bed with their parents are less likely to suffer from stress disorders, can regulate their breathing better and enjoyer greater immunological benefits from breastfeeding.

Advocates of co-sleeping such as the breastfeeding organization the La Leche League argue that so long as it is done safely and the appropriate precautions are taken, it can be a great experience for both parents and babies.

They recommend always using lightweight bedding and a hard mattress so the baby cannot suffocate and ensuring that the mattress fits snugly into the bedframe.

Co-sleeping after drinking or smoking or when exhausted should also be avoided, they caution.