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According to the Mayo Clinic, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) “is the unexplained death, usually during sleep of a seemingly healthy baby less than one-year-old.” In order to reduce the number of SIDS cases, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended in 1992 that babies be put to sleep on their backs rather than on their stomach or their side. Since this recommendation, the number of SIDS related deaths have declined more than 50%.
However, there are still approximately 2,000-3,000 SIDS related deaths each year in the United States. SIDS is the most common cause of death in the first year of life, and cases of SIDS are most likely to occur between 2-5 months of age. Parents, understandably, are fearful of this and may check on their baby several times throughout the night to check to see if they are breathing (I did this occasionally too!).
One other way to help prevent SIDS is to have your baby sleep in your room, which was a new recommendation made by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2016. However, this doesn’t mean that the baby should sleep in your bed. Preferably, if a baby sleeps in your room, it should be in a crib or in a bassinet. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has not released safety standards for the use of in-bed sleepers, and there have been no studies that have looked at the association between these in-bed sleepers and the risk of SIDS. However, to be on the safe side, I would stick with a crib or bassinet.
In one study, it was suggested that if mom and baby sleep in the same room, they are in lighter sleep states and have more opportunities for breastfeeding. In turn, the baby may be better able to arouse themselves if they have a serious episode of sleep apnea. Another added benefit of sleeping in the same room is that parents can respond more quickly if the baby is in distress (i.e., if they are hungry, cold, sick). This responsivity to the baby’s needs helps build a secure attachment between the parent and child (a strong emotional bond). In turn, this secure attachment helps the child become better able to regulate their emotions and build resilience.
As a parent, do what you feel is best in terms of sleeping arrangements, but do it safely. 🙂
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McKenna, J. J. (2007). Co-sleeping with your baby: A parent’s guide to co-sleeping. Washington, D.C.: Platypus Media.
Miller, P. M., & Commons, M. L. (2010). The benefits of attachment parenting for infants and children: A behavioral development view. Behavioral Development Bulletin, 10, 1-14.