A new study conducted at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine shows that babies younger than three months old who share the bed of a parent are as much as five times more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If the mother drinks two or more alcoholic beverages daily, the risk of SIDS is 89 times higher, and if both parents smoke, a two-week-old infant’s risk of death increases 65 fold.

co-sleeping with children

Why Bedsharing Increases the Risk of SIDS

Eileen Tyrala, who is the medical director of Cribs for Kids and a pediatrician at St. Christopher’s Hospital, says that bed sharing can make breathing more difficult for an infant. She states that all it takes is a small movement on the bed sharer’s part to make breathing impossible for the baby.

The dangers include:

  • Suffocation – an infant may become wedged between the headboard and mattress. She may lay face down on soft bedding, a traditional mattress or waterbed.
  • Strangulation – an infant’s body may pass through part of a bed frame that is too small for the baby’s head, trapping her.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests room-sharing/co-sleeping as opposed to bed sharing.
  • Simply put a crib or bassinet in your room instead. To learn more about infant sleep safety visit www.cribsforkids.org.

SIDS can strike newborns and baby up to one year old. Learn how to prevent SIDS!

If you choose to bedshare

Ultimately, the choice to bed share is yours. If you do decide to bed share, you need to take as many precautions as possible before you bring your little one into the bed.

  • Never use pillows, blankets or any other soft items on the bed.
  • Place the baby on her back.
  • Always keep the baby’s head uncovered.
  • Have a firm mattress that fits snugly in your bed frame to make sure she does not become trapped between them.
  • Never sleep with your baby on a sofa, soft mattress or waterbed. You may need to shop for new mattresses that are firmer mattress to ensure your baby’s safety.
  • Never leave your baby asleep on an adult bed by herself.
  • Do not put your bed near a window or a cord.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages, drugs and medications that may keep you from waking up or cause you to roll onto your baby

Related Read: Choosing a baby cot

If you choose to co-sleep, here are some crib safety tips

  • All cribs, play yards and bassinets should be bare.
  • Carefully follow instructions when you put the crib together. You must install each part correctly. If you have questions, contact the crib manufacturer.
  • Do not place bassinets or cribs near a window or by items with cords.
  • If you can place more than two fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib, your child is in danger every time you lay her down.
  • Never add extra padding to a play yard.
  • If a crib is more than 10 years old, is broken or is modified, do not use it.

Related Read: Co-sleeping with your baby

You can watch a brief safe sleep video that demonstrates crib safety techniques here.

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