Studies show safety of breastfeeding and co-sleeping

James McKenna, PhD, shares advice for breastfeeding mothers on the research based safety of breastfeeding and bedsharing with your baby
Breastfeeding and Co-Sleeping Safety Tips
KidsInTheHouse the Ultimate Parenting Resource
Kids in the House Tour

Studies show safety of breastfeeding and co-sleeping

The breastfeeding mother is in a particularly good position to detect changes in it's baby's physiology and changes the baby may have in their bedsharing. One of the physiological difference is that mother and baby move toward greater sensitivities to one another and respond to each other in kind. We learn that over 60 percent of mother's awaking occur within two seconds of the baby being aroused. Similarly, we learn that baby's arouse plus or minus two seconds of when the mother is aroused. This reflects that the mother is not habituating to the baby, it's that the mother had become used to it. She becomes increasingly able to respond to changes in that baby's physiology. Aside from that, the baby is spending more time in light stages of sleep which is protective against SIDS because it prevents the baby from getting into deep sleep from which it might be difficult for that baby to arouse following an apnea or a pause. In regards to breastfeeding itself, the comparisons we made in the bed sharing versus and the solitary situation, is that the baby breastfeeds twice as much. This helps with the mother's milk supply. It helps the mother to manage her own breastfeeding. It gives the baby more volume of milk that contributes to its health and well-being.

James McKenna, PhD, shares advice for breastfeeding mothers on the research based safety of breastfeeding and bedsharing with your baby


Expert Bio

More from Expert

James McKenna, PhD

Anthropologist & Author

Professor James J. McKenna is recognized as the world’s leading authority on mother-infant co-sleeping, in relationship to breastfeeding and SIDS. In recognition of his work in 2009 he was admitted as a Fellow into the select body of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's most prestigious scientific society. That same year and in recognition of his extensive work with television, radio, and print media he received from the American Anthropological Association the “2008 Anthropology In The Media Award” one of the top three awards presented to anthropologists by the association in recognition of his distinguished work in educating the public to the importance of anthropological concepts. He received his undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1970, his Master's Degree from San Diego State University in 1972, and his PhD in biological anthropology from the University of Oregon, Eugene, in 1975. Professor McKenna has published over 139 refereed scientific articles in diverse medical and anthropological journals on co-sleeping, breastfeeding, evolutionary medicine and SIDS, and both here and abroad he gives over 20 lectures especially to pediatric groups and parents. Here in the United States he remains one of the primary spokesperson to the media on issues pertaining to sleeping arrangements, nighttime breast-feeding and SIDS prevention. He has also published two monographs on SIDS and infant sleep, and co-edited two books:  Evolutionary Medicine and Evolutionary Medicine And Health: New Perspectives. His first trade book for parents was published in 2008 entitled: Sleeping With Your Baby: A Parents Guide To Co-Sleeping, and was recently translated and available in Spanish and Dutch.

More Parenting Videos from James McKenna, PhD >
Enter your email to
download & subscribe
to our newsletter