Posts Tagged ‘sids’

Despite the headlines about co-sleeping and cot death nearly half of us still do it.  A study in 2004 showed that 47% of infants in Britain bed-share with their parents for at least part of the night. Most of my mummy friends have spent some of those early days co-sleeping and others have kept it up into toddler-hood.  So why do we feel like its a dirty secret?

The Department of Health does not recommend bed-sharing because of an increased risk of infant death.  A documentary in 1991 presented by Anne Diamond, whose son had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Sids), discussed co sleeping research undertaken in New Zealand. The Maori community co-slept and they had a high rate of Sids and the two were linked. The conclusions of the documentary were amended two years later. Researchers acknowledged that the Maori habits of smoking and drinking alcohol had a great connections to the Sids rates that co sleeping.

In countries such as China and Japan where co-sleeping is the norm, Sids is virtually unheard of.  One 2006 study of children age 3–10 in India reported 93% of children co-sleeping.

Co-sleeping on its own is not the problem, but if combined with alcohol, drugs or cigarettes it can be.  And actually the NHS guidelines reflect this.

To reduce the risk of cot death, the Department of Health (DoH 2009) recommends you should not share a bed with your baby if:

  • You or your partner smoke
  • You or your partner have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medication or drugs
  • You feel extreme fatigue
  • Your baby was premature

Pro’s and Con’s of co sleeping

  • Great bonding time
  • Some studies have shown that sleep-sharing babies tend to breastfeed more, and disrupt their mother’s sleep less
  • Mums who share a bed with their baby tend to breastfeed their babies for longer periods of time, this could be because they find it easier to breastfeed in bed rather than getting up
  • Babies who sleep with their parents tend to stay awake for shorter periods of time as its quicker to see to their needs


  • Sharing your bed with a fidgety baby means you may not sleep as well as you do when your baby sleeps in a cot.
  • If your baby gets used to falling asleep next to you, she may become reliant on having you there to go to sleep.
  • Depending on how long you co sleep you may find transitioning your child out of the bed and into their own a difficult process.
  • Sleep sharing can affect your sex life.  For obvious reasons.

What are the do’s and don’t of co sleeping?

  • Keep bedding light and minimal to avoid risk him being smothered or overheating.
  • Make sure the mattress is firm.
  • Never sleep on a sofa or waterbed as they could get wedged in the cracks between the cushions or between you and the back of the sofa.
  • Do not put your baby to sleep on pillows.
  • Don’t leave your baby alone on the bed.
  • Make sure the baby cannot roll out of the bed in the night.

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