Cosleeping: Fear Mongering, Flawed Research and How to Cosleep Safely

by Birth Without Fear on November 17, 2011

This ad has made quite the uproar!

baby sleeping with knife

Why? It takes a group of people (by zip code) that has a high death rate and instead of looking at the circumstances and the reasons why, they blame cosleeping and make a fear mongering ad that says all cosleeping is as dangerous as baby sleeping with a big rusty butcher knife.

Why not instead make an ad about the Do’s and Dont’s of Cosleeping? Why not make an ad focusing on the circumstances and issues surrounding the deaths in their area?

18% of the parents were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, 68% of the children were directly exposed to second hand smoke.

What they are trying to do with this ad is ‘shock’ those who are their target audience…those who cosleep while on medications, drugs and drinking alcohol. An ad with a baby surrounded by a bottle of beer, cigarettes and prescription bottles would better represent their point. The problem with this ad is it puts into the minds of the public that ALL cosleeping is dangerous and bad. It’s not.

If you would like to petition to remove this ad, you can do so here. Thank you Conscience Parenting.

Cosleeping is not a fad, cribs are.

“Solitary infant sleeping is a principally western practice which is quite young in terms of human history. The practice of training children to sleep alone through the night is approximately two centuries old. Prior to the late 1700s cosleeping was the norm in all societies (Davies, 1995). Today in many cultures the practice of cosleeping continues, with babies seen as natural extensions of their mothers for the first one or two years of life, spending both waking and sleeping hours by her side. Cosleeping is taken for granted in such cultures as best for both babies and mothers, and the western pattern of placing small infants alone in rooms of their own is seen as aberrant (Thevenin, 1987). Comprehensive studies of western nonreactive cosleeping, defined as family cosleeping from birth as a custom, rather than as the result of childhood sleep disturbances, are not yet available. However medical and anthropological evidence suggests the western movement to solitary infant sleeping in the past two centuries may have consequences in the areas of attachment security and physical safety.”

Flawed research and studies would have you believe that our history is wrong and flawed, when in fact it is the opposite that is true.

“One popular research study came out in 1999 from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that showed 515 cases of accidental infant deaths occurred in an adult bed over an 8-year period between 1990 and 1997. That’s about 65 deaths per year. These deaths were not classified as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS),…”

“The conclusion that the researchers drew from this study was that sleeping with an infant in an adult bed is dangerous and should never be done. This sounds like a reasonable conclusion, until you consider the epidemic of SIDS as a whole. During the 8-year period of this study, about 34,000 total cases of SIDS occurred in the U.S. (around 4250 per year). If 65 cases of non-SIDS accidental death occurred each year in a bed, and about 4250 cases of actual SIDS occurred overall each year, then the number of accidental deaths in an adult bed is only 1.5% of the total cases of SIDS.”

The numbers and comparisons of deaths for cosleeping and crib sleeping are not accurate.

“Until a legitimate survey is done to determine how many babies sleep with their parents, and this is factored into the rate of SIDS in a bed versus a crib, it is unwarranted to state that sleeping in a crib is safer than a bed.

If the incidence of SIDS is dramatically higher in crib versus a parent’s bed, and because the cases of accidental smothering and entrapment are only 1.5% of the total SIDS cases, then sleeping with a baby in your bed would be far safer than putting baby in a crib.

The answer is not to tell parents they shouldn’t sleep with their baby, but rather to educate them on how to sleep with their infants safely.”

How to Cosleep Safely:

-Take precautions to keep baby from rolling out of the bed.

-Place baby next to mom, not inbetween mother and father.

-Have baby sleep on his/her back.

-Use a large bed.

-If you want baby to be sleeping near you, but not in your bed, a bedside co-sleeper is a safe option.

-Do not cosleep if you are under the influence of drugs (legal or not) any amount of alcohol, you are very obese, you suffer from sleep apnea, exhausted from sleep deprivation, are not the baby’s mother, father or caregiver. Also, be careful cosleeping on a couch (that is too coushiny) or no water beds.

-Do not let siblings cosleep directly next to baby until baby is at least 9 months old.

-Keep strings, plastic, and chemicals away from baby.

-Use common sense.

There are so many benefits to cosleeping. It is natural and normal and helps establish a good breastfeeding relationship.

“In Japan where co-sleeping and breastfeeding (in the absence of maternal smoking) is the cultural norm, rates of the sudden infant death syndrome are the lowest in the world. For breastfeeding mothers, bedsharing makes breastfeeding much easier to manage and practically doubles the amount of breastfeeding sessions while permitting both mothers and infants to spend more time asleep. The increased exposure to mother’s antibodies which comes with more frequent nighttime breastfeeding can potentially, per any given infant, reduce infant illness. And because co-sleeping in the form of bedsharing makes breastfeeding easier for mothers, it encourages them to breastfeed for a greater number of months, according to Dr. Helen Ball’s studies at the University of Durham, therein potentially reducing the mothers chances of breast cancer. Indeed, the benefits of cosleeping helps explain why simply telling parents never to sleep with baby is like suggesting that nobody should eat fats and sugars since excessive fats and sugars lead to obesity and/or death from heart disease, diabetes or cancer.”

Not only is cosleeping NOT as dangerous as your baby sleeping with a knife, but in cultures where it is the norm, infant mortality rates are the lowest.

“…Irrepressible (ancient) neurologically-based infant responses to maternal smells, movements and touch altogether reduce infant crying while positively regulating infant breathing, body temperature, absorption of calories, stress hormone levels, immune status, and oxygenation. In short, and as mentioned above, cosleeping (whether on the same surface or not) facilitates positive clinical changes including more infant sleep and seems to make, well, babies happy. In other words, unless practiced dangerously, sleeping next to mother is good for infants. The reason why it occurs is because… it is supposed to.”

That is right…cosleeping isn’t done to be hip or hippy, but because it’s supposed to be.

Thank you to all the BWF Mamas for emailing your cosleeping pictures to us for this and future posts!

Other Resources

http://www.visi.com/~jlb/thesis/cosleep.html

http://cosleeping.nd.edu/articles-and-presentations/articles-and-essays/

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/sleep-problems/sids-latest-research-how-sleeping-your-baby-safe

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/sleep-problems/sleep-safety/safe-co-sleeping-habits

http://neuroanthropology.net/2008/12/21/cosleeping-and-biological-imperatives-why-human-babies-do-not-and-should-not-sleep-alone/

 

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