SIDS and bed sharing

Nikki - posted on 03/27/2011 ( 35 moms have responded )

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I was doing a bit of reading about SIDS and bed sharing, from what I have read in the past (generally US literature) if bed sharing is done in a safe manner it is considered safe. I just came across and article from SIDS and Kids, which is the major SIDS organisation in Australia, their information booklets are handed out in hospitals, birthing classes, day care centres etc. The information regarding bed sharing is very negative, and I could imagine it could possibly put mother's off bed sharing.



What are your thoughts? Do you think bed sharing increases the risk of SIDS? Have you come across any reputable studies which have influenced your decisions?



http://www.sidsandkids.org/wp-content/up...

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Minnie - posted on 03/27/2011

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SIDS is an infant death with an unknown cause. It is not entrapment, being rolled over on, or suffocation.



I've read the AAP policy on SIDS and cosleeping and did a little research on how they formulated the policy- guess who they created it in conjuction with? The First Candle organization- which is vehemently anti-cosleeping- they've got an agenda, and that agenda is funded by numerous furniture and infant product manufacturers.



Dr. James McKenna of the Notre Dame sleep laboratory has been researching cosleeping for years and he has determined that it actually may reduce the risk of SIDS because the infant's breathing and sleep rhythms coincide with the mothers. Another reason that it may reduce the risk is that the mother frequently checks on the baby. His research showed babies remaining in deeper sleep for longer periods of time when in a crib down the hall and the mother waking less frequently.

Charlie - posted on 03/27/2011

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Japan is the biggest bed sharing country in the world and also has the lowest rates of SIDS coupled with the fact Dr McKenna's research spanning over a decade shows safe bed shraing actually DECREASES risk of SIDS and as the worlds leading expert on infant sleep and SIDS he also reccomends it for those who are able to practice it safely .

Jodi - posted on 03/27/2011

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"everything child related in Australia seems to be behind the curve - just look at our car seat laws :o("

I don't agree, we may be behind with some things (you have given two examples), but I could name dozens of others where we are not. Eg, I believe we have a lower rate of c-section, and we are definitely much lower in our rate of circumcision. There are many areas I would consider are much further ahead than many other countries in the world.

Sneaky - posted on 03/27/2011

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Someone pointed out to me in a co-sleeping discussion a few months ago that Japan has the highest rate of co-sleeping and the lowest rates of SIDS. . . .I don't know if that correlation has been proven, but it's interesting to think about.

As to SIDS and Kids Australia - I was not surprised to learn that they are adamantly against co-sleeping, everything child related in Australia seems to be behind the curve - just look at our car seat laws :o(

Minnie - posted on 03/28/2011

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Yes- a key phrase in the AAP statement on Cosleeping and SIDS is "cosleeping as practiced in western countries."

But again, it's very misleading to lump SIDS and dangers of sleeping in a bed that is unsafe together.

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Laura - posted on 03/29/2011

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I have a bassinet beside my bed that he goes to sleep in but when he wakes up we usually fall asleep while he's eating so I guess I do both. I like just being able to reach over and know they are breathing.

Becky - posted on 03/29/2011

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I do not believe co-sleeping increases the risk of SIDS in any way. If done unsafely, yes, it could increase the risk of suffocation or strangulation, but neither of those are SIDS. SIDS has no explanation. I think sometimes it is used erroneously for cases where babies have suffocated, maybe to scare parents out of bed-sharing.
We have bed-shared with both of ours. I got more sleep and I was always very aware of them beside me. To me, it felt much safer to have them right there with me, where I could feel them breathing and feel their body temperature, than to have them in another room where I wouldn't necessarily hear if something bad was happening.

Becky - posted on 03/29/2011

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I do not believe co-sleeping increases the risk of SIDS in any way. If done unsafely, yes, it could increase the risk of suffocation or strangulation, but neither of those are SIDS. SIDS has no explanation. I think sometimes it is used erroneously for cases where babies have suffocated, maybe to scare parents out of bed-sharing.
We have bed-shared with both of ours. I got more sleep and I was always very aware of them beside me. To me, it felt much safer to have them right there with me, where I could feel them breathing and feel their body temperature, than to have them in another room where I wouldn't necessarily hear if something bad was happening.

Jenn - posted on 03/28/2011

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I co-slept with both of my babies and they did just fine. They wore warm pjs without a blanket or pillow. They could nurse when they wanted and all I had to do was help them latch on. I was always aware of them there so I definitely slept lighter but I didn't care. I loved having my babies close to me! My husband is a heavy sleeper so he never slept near our baby. Having a king size bed certainly made the difference in allowing everyone enough space, including Baby. I am for it as long as the mother can be AWARE even in her sleep of baby being there, doesn't drink and doesn't take medication.

Merry - posted on 03/28/2011

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I think well practices bed sharing is safe and beneficial for both mom and baby.

Badly set up or badly practiced bed sharing can be deadly to a baby.

It all depends on your situation, if you make the bed a baby friendly place, and keep your self in a good safe state while sleeping (no drinking, smoking, sleeping pills, drugs, obesity) then you are helping keep your baby safe.

But if you must be on certain pills for diseases, if you are addicted to smoking, or drinking, or need sleeping pills to sleep. Or if you are obese and aren't in good sense of where your body is while sleeping, then you aren't a good candidate for bed sharing!

Same with the bed. If you sleep with your spouse on a twin sized bed, or you have to have a huge quilt over you with many sheets and blankets, or if you use a fluffy pillow top, or if you regularly sleep on a couch or a water bed etc then you aren't going to be a safe bed sharer.



It's really all about 'qualifying' for a safe situation I think.

Because it sure seems that when bed sharing is done right it is very very safe healthy and beneficial to all involved.

But somehow many Americans do it very badly and babies do end up dead. The government isn't going to go through all the work to make sure everyone knows how to properly bed share, they would rather ban it entirely to avoid the badly qualified parents doing it and ending up with a dead baby.

Amanda - posted on 03/28/2011

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Like Loureen said SIDs in countries that normally co sleep, their rates are much lower than in countries where its normal to put an infant alone in a room. Co sleeping includes sharing a room with a child, it doesnt have to be a bed.

Charlie - posted on 03/27/2011

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Nothing has been proven either way but there are correlations for both sides of the argument , what needs to be remembered ( and this is my opinion and pure speculation ) though is the correlation between bed sharing and SIDS lies somewhere in circumstaces and enviroment given that no one knows the CAUSE of SIDS .

Doctor McKenna has shown that infants who bed share are more likely to breastfeed. However, even breastfeeding, by itself, has not been shown to reduce the risk for SIDS although mothers who smoke ( reguardless of sleep situation ) increase the risk of SIDS .

There is speculation that it could be related to respiritory issues which breastfeeding does help but the biggest correllation lies in the one thing in common ..... smoking , A study also said 27 percent of the 117 cases of deaths could have been prevented if mothers had not smoked after delivery, exposing their children to secondhand smoke .

I find it all very interesting but in the end no one knows the real cause .

Nikki - posted on 03/27/2011

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I was waiting for you Loureen, you always have good facts about this subject. Carol that is so scary.

[deleted account]

Oh goodness, how scary Johnny! I'm so glad Mikayla is okay.

Our newborn sleeps in a cradle next to our bed. But I've found that I'm more comfortable when she's next to me in bed. I only have her in bed with me when my husband is working nights, which is 3-4 times a week. He's a crazy sleeper, so I'm not comfortable with having our daughter in bed when he's home.

The difference between her being in the cradle and her being next to me is amazing. When she's a few feet away in the cradle, I sleep less soundly, waking constantly to feel if she's breathing. She also wakes more often and it takes longer to soothe her. When she's cradled in my arms or only a few inches from me I can feel her breathing, and we both sleep more peacefully. I never thought I'd be pro-co-sleeping, but it's definitely a good thing for us right now.

Johnny - posted on 03/27/2011

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When my daughter was first born, I was very concerned about rolling on her or squishing her (I have always been a very heavy sleeper) so I kept her in a bassinet right beside me until she was 4 months. I felt instinctually that having her near me was the right thing to do. Then she was mostly in her crib unless she was sick. When she was about 9 months, she started thrashing in her sleep in her crib a lot and we brought her in with us to calm her. She slept with us for several months and then on a mattress on the floor for several more. Now she's mostly in her own room, unless she's ill.

I think bed sharing can be done safely, and if it is, then there are some real benefits to it, especially when it comes to being aware of your child's condition in the night. It is possible my daughter is also alive because we allowed her in our bed, although it was only about a month ago this happened (she's 2 1/2, obviously not SIDS related). She suffered a sudden high fever onset, came out of her room and into ours. She suffered a febrile seizure which woke us and did not stop until the paramedics gave her oxygen. If she had been in her own room, we never would have known, and she could have died from lack of oxygen. I will always be keeping my children in my room with me from now on, until they are old enough to wake me if something goes wrong. The seizure was silent, no baby monitor would have alerted us.

Lesa - posted on 03/27/2011

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I co-slept with both of my children because I carried them in my body for nine months, they were used to my heart beat, my smell and my breathing. I find it funny that once they are born we are forcing them into their own room to sleep all alone. We teach or children how to walk, talk, and eat but we do not teach them how to sleep. Like Tara said, all mammals sleep with their children and we do not hear of them dying with SIDS. It seems almost funny to picture a monkey placing their infant away from them to sleep. lol That being said, I do respect those parents who do not feel comfortable doing it as I did not feel comfortable putting them in their room and would not want anyone giving me grief for it. :-)



Edited: to saying placing them in a separate room, not forcing... obviously you can't force an infant. Lol

Christina - posted on 03/27/2011

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The longest one of my kids nursed was a bit more than 2 and a half. The shortest was 18 months. They seemed to know when the right time is and just started loosing interest. I think it is different for each baby.

Tara - posted on 03/27/2011

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They weaned themselves about 2-4 months after moving out of our bed and toilet training themselves, so all were self weaned by 3 years old.
For us all it took was me not offering it, and them asking less and less often, sometimes days would go by when they were 2.5 or so, and then they would want to nurse. I never said no and they just stopped asking, my body gradually reduced the supply that I needed and so when they were done I suffered no engorgement or pain etc.

Merry - posted on 03/27/2011

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Tara, what age did your kids wean completely from the breast? I'm wondering mostly because it sounds like they all were at least 2, and my son is 2 now and since I'm also trying to parent naturally following his lead idk what to expect as to the age he will wean.

Tara - posted on 03/27/2011

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I have parented all six of my kids based on biology and instinct. This is how it went for us: (oh by the way this is also how it went for several 10 of thousands of years all around the world, and still goes on for more than 80% of the worlds' population)
1. I breastfed right away, laying down skin to skin with my babies.
2. They remained by my breast as much as possible for the first few weeks of life, either laying in bed or toted around in a baby sling, always close to my beating heart and close to their source of food, thereby regulating their own body heat mechanisms as well as their breathing patterns and oxygen intake.
3. I slept in my bed with them until they were 2 - 2.5 at this time they naturally weaned themselves from nursing at night and at roughly the same time made the choice on their own to be toilet trained.
4. They naturally moved into their own bed and have slept there since and for the most part I have never had a bed time struggle with any of them.

When they slept beside me I always knew where they were, I often woke up seconds before they started rooting for the breast, their little mouths open and yet their eyes closed and their bodies relaxed, as soon as the nipple was found they would return to a deep sleep, but nursing contently until they were full. I would fall back to sleep as they nursed gently and we all got wonderful amounts of peaceful sleep.
I think if co-sleeping safely contributed to SIDS than the human species would have died out a long long long time ago. And if co-sleeping contributes to SIDS then why aren't baby monkeys dying of SIDS?
Sorry this was so long, and not entirely about co-sleeping alone, but I really believe in instinctive parenting. And the notion that co-sleeping is bad or dangerous is worrying to me, I think it will increase the number of cases of PPD in moms, if they feel they should sleep with their baby, but everyone tells them it's dangerous, then that may lead to feelings of anxiety etc.
Anyhow, gotta run, will be back later.

Christina - posted on 03/27/2011

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I have had 6 babies and all of them slept in the bed with me for about the first 2 years. I nursed them all for 1 to 2 years depending on how long they wanted to do it. It seemed much more natural to me then putting them in a room all alone were I could not hear them breathing while I slept. I have never had trouble getting them out of my bed when the time comes. I don't care what everyone else says I think you need to follow your gut on this one and do what you think is the right thing for your baby. I am having another baby this summer and plan on nursing and having him in my bed with me also.

Merry - posted on 03/27/2011

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We were scared out of it by the hospital with Eric, I still bed shared with him off and on but my husband was literally, deathly afraid of having him in bed. Thanks to circle of moms, I was intrigued to research bed sharing along with all the other things I thought I knew about but didn't. I found out that I was actually a great example of a safe bed sharing mom. My husband, not as Lucy, but not totally bad for it either. So with our daughter due in a few weeks we are planning on beds sharing. We will use our drop side crib with the loose side taken off and pushed up to the bed to give us more room with her.
I think SIDS isn't caused by bed sharing, it may happen when people bed share in bad situations, or with bad factors. But in good safely practiced bed sharing I totally believe it's the safest option.

[deleted account]

Most of the women I know who co slept did it out of fear of SIDS how ironic. I personally didn't because I know someone who killed their son by rolling over on him and for me it just made more sense to have my son in his bassinette next to my bed. I'm not against co-sleeping for others I personally wouldn't do it but not out of fear of SIDS I think thats a little out there. Everything can cause SIDS and nothing can cause SIDS they really are grasping at straws I heard that swaddling causes SIDS now even. I mean some things are common sense like not having a baby surrounded by bumperpads and fluffy toys and a bunch of blankets in a smoke filled room with cats crawling over them with a bottle propped up so it doesn't leave their mouth but the truth is SIDS can take a child even in the healthiest most proactive environments so I think they need to calm down with all of their 'research' because they are freaking people out and parents who do lose their children to this are left wondering what they didn't do even if they did everything they thought would ensure that baby would be safe. Until we know then we just don't know and having a list of things that 'can' cause SIDS and adding to it and taking from it randomly based on inconsistant research is just making it more complicated to find out whats really causing it.

Bondlets - posted on 03/27/2011

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I do not think bed sharing increases the risk of SIDS. However, I will not have my baby in bed with me due to other risks (rollng over, blankets, etc.). I will have my baby next to the bed for the first few weeks but that's about it. I tend to not pay much attention to the studies out there because it seems there is a study to support just about anything. Basically I feel that if SIDS is going to happen, it's going to happen. Yes, there are obvious things parents can do to protect their baby yet even parents who do all the right things may find themselves going through the horror of losing a baby.

[deleted account]

I bed shared periodically, and mostly for convenience while I was breastfeeding. After that, **I** just prefered and get a better night sleep with NO ONE in my bed!



Roxanne (...and Chad) sometimes sneak into the bed with me, and I do enjoy some snuggles ONCE IN A WHILE! ;)

Christina - posted on 03/27/2011

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All I know is that bed sharing is why my 5yr old son is ALIVE, and why my 21yr old brother is ALIVE! When my 21yr old brother was a year old, my mom had a miscarriage. She was 21wks along when he gave birth to her son. She was so devastated after that, she brought my 1yr old brother to bed with her. He was sleeping in my room at the time. Two weeks after she lost the baby, she was sleeping with Jacob and heard a strange sound. She woke up and my brother's tongue had rolled back into his throat and he was blue. If he had been in the room with me (I was 8yrs old) the he would have died because I never would have woken up to save him.
My 5yr old son was born 4wks prematurely. I co-slept with him, as I did with his three older siblings. He was two weeks old and ended up spitting up. He was so tiny that he couldn't turn his head and started to choke. I heard him spit up, opened my eyes, and saw him turning bright red, not breathing. I was able to clear the mucus and he was fine. If he had been in his crib, I highly doubt I would have heard him choke.

[deleted account]

I co-slept with my now 6year old daughter for 3& a half years.I did my research before doing so.
I never had a problem with her in the bed.My second child was a baby that slept from birth.She had her own space and loved it for mths.At 8-9 mths.I woke up early one morning and put her in with me as she was crying.I fell back a sleep after she did.I woke up and she was not beside me.I sat right up and shouted "were is she".My partner pulled back the cover to find her lying on her back and feet to us.I could see she was breathing.I grabbed her, woke her.She was fine.You have to be so careful.
I think god love anybody who wakes to a child in the way i did with our second child and the outcome is death.You could never forgive yourself.She was a baby that moved so much and for bedsharing thats not good IMHO.

Sarah - posted on 03/27/2011

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Co-sleeping was one of those things I said I would never do. I didn't co-sleep with my son in those first several months, because I didn't feel that it was right for our family. As he got older (around 8-9 months), he started going through some sleeping issues & I was EXHAUSTED. I used co-sleeping as a way for BOTH of us to get more sleep & it worked lol. He's 18 months old now & still occasionally sleeps with my husband & me.

With my next child, I plan on getting a co-sleeper or a bassinet to put next to our bed so the baby is just an arms length away.

Sara - posted on 03/27/2011

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I was encouraged not to bed share by my OB and the hospital when I had my daughter. I was too scared to try it. But, I think just like with anything else, if you're smart about it and try your best to do it safely, I don't see a problem with chosing to bed share. Set the scene for safety...

ME - posted on 03/27/2011

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We bed-shared with Miles because it was right for him, we did not do it with our daughter because it was not right for her. I do not think, all things being equal, that it is dangerous or unsafe. I am not medicated, I never drink heavily...I see no reason why sleeping with my child, as a means of getting both of us some rest, is anyone's business!

Jenni - posted on 03/27/2011

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Katherine, I am really torn on this one. I don't know what to believe. I think there's a lot of us in the same boat as me. There's so many conflicting studies.

Katherine - posted on 03/27/2011

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Do you co-sleep? Did you know that co-sleeping with your baby may actually help to prevent SIDS?

Dr. James McKenna (professor of anthropology and assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and neurology at the University of California's Irvine School of Medicine and director of the Center for
Behavioral Studies of Mother-Infant Sleep at Notre Dame) has been conducting studies on the many benefits of co-sleeping for years. So, too, has Dr. William Sears.

Dr. Sears decided to set up his own little experiment with his wife and 8 week old daughter in 1992. Dr. Sears's daughter was wired so that her electrocardiogram could be recorded, and the test was conducted over a period of two nights. The data was analyzed after the experiment by a pediatric pulmonologist who was unaware of what the study would be used for in order to assure non-bias.

On the first night, Dr. Sears's daughter and wife slept together in the family bed, which they normally did. During the next night, Dr. Sears's daughter slept alone while her mother slept in another bedroom.

After analyzing the study, Dr. Sears concluded that his daughter actually "breathed better" when she was sleeping next to her mother at night. Her heart rate and her breathing were less erratic when co-sleeping, and there were no dips in his daughter's blood oxygen levels at night. But, on the night that Dr. Sears's daughter slept alone, there were a total of 132 dips in her blood oxygen levels.

Dr. Sears decided to try the same test on another infant and mother to see if the findings would be similar. They were. Dr. Sears took his pilot study and presented it to the 11th International Apnea of Infancy Conference afterwards.

Almost a million dollars of government research money has been granted to sleep laboratories, like the one that Dr. James McKenna runs, to study the sleeping habits of babies that are 2 to 5 months of age.
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article...

Jenni - posted on 03/27/2011

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I'm not sure about the US... but I would think they're generally just as against it as here in Canada. The hospital and intake nurse warned me strongly against co-sleeping. The Pediatric Society of Canada is dead set against it.

That all said, I co-slept both my children for the first couple months of life. I think my son up until he was 6 months. My daughter until she was 2 1/2 months. Mostly, when they wouldn't sleep in their crib or if I fell asleep while nursing. A lot of the time it was when I dozed off while they were nursing and I'd usually wake when they latched off and bring them back to their crib. I never really felt safe about it considering all the warnings so I tried to limit how much I did co-sleep. I was actively working on getting them use to their crib.

Nikki - posted on 03/27/2011

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It probably sounds corny but I bed shared with my daughter while I was breast feeding because my instincts felt like it was the right thing to do. However after I had to stop BF, I could tell I slept heavier so I was no longer comfortable doing it full time.

At that stage I hadn't actually researched any aspect of it, it just felt right. Since then the research I have read to suggest that if done correctly it is safer does make sense to me.

I can understand that a lot of mother's are not comfortable with the concept and that's fine but it bother's me that the leading authority on SIDS within Australia seems to discourage it which I am sure would impact many mother's decisions.

Alyssa - posted on 03/27/2011

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I have never bed shared other than the odd night when my children have been sick. Not only because I don't want them in my bed but also because I couldn't sleep soundly knowing I might roll over or kick the blanket over them.

Many people especially on here would argue that co-sleeping is safer and doesn't increase the risk but thats just not what I was comfortable with.

A friend of mine used a sleeping capsule type thing which goes in the bed and baby sleeps in it. IMO this is the safest way to co-sleep but using this they might as well be in a bassinette next to the bed.

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