Is Co-Sleeping with your baby safe?

Is it safe to co-sleep? Famous pediatricians debate pros and cons of co-sleeping. American Academy of pediatrics disagrees with the number one researcher James McKenna.
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Is Co-Sleeping with your baby safe?


- Baby's should not sleep alone. The safest baby is a breastfeeding baby in the family bed and we're at odds with an awful lot of popular literature and public health departments who absolutely know nothing at all. The safest baby is a breastfeeding baby in the family bed.

- Some of us may take some exception to that comment.

- Where would you have a baby sleep?

- I would have a baby sleep right next to the mother in a cosleeper or in a bassinet so the mother has an easy opportunity to breastfeed, it's safer for babies being in the room with the parents as opposed to being in a different room.

- Well, first is that our culture sets us up to see babies as adversaries in terms of their sleep, you know, winning baby sleep battles. I mean, the whole orientation needs to be redone as is in some ways the commentary that my colleagues and friends, Dr. Karp and Dr. Altmann said. I don't blame them for that kind of rhetoric because I think there's very few people that have actually studied this issue in detail and this is what I've spent 30 years of my life doing.

- What concerns me I would say two things. One is at least the statistics are about 70% of the babies who die in their sleep in the first year of life die in an adult bed.

- There is, in my opinion, no science of bed-sharing research from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It's so driven by ideology. You know, we have a bias in the questions asked, the choice of the analysis, but I do believe science has a way of correcting itself.

- 50% of parents are sleeping less than six hours a night and when you do that week after week and you did at the end of pregnancy, you are the equivalent of drunk. That's why you get in car accidents when you're exhausted, that's why you forget things on the roof of your car. Your brain is impaired and then when you fall asleep you sleep deeply and you are the last person who can make a good appraisal of how exhausted you are and so for those reasons, going to bed sleep-deprived, which so many parents do, even though you're loving and you're breastfeeding, you are not aware of what you're doing. You're the equivalent of a drunk parent.

- I agree with Harvey. That's what I was gonna say is that I don't trust myself because I am exhausted and so I have this bassinet that kind of flips onto my bed. It really helps me have my son close to me so I can nurse him, I can bond with him, I can cuddle with him, but when it's time for me to go to sleep I really have to put him down because I'm a restless sleeper and I just don't trust myself and I want him to be in the safest environment possible.

- And what we've seen is the longer that the mother has actually slept with her baby, not it is that she gets habituated, that she becomes increasingly more sensitive such that 60% of her arousals are explained by her baby having aroused plus or minus two seconds before.

- I have such a stringent objection to a baby being in a separate room or being some distance from his or her parents that I really prefer the family bed. I actually I trust Dr. Altmann not to roll over and squash the baby.

- Babies are inherent contact seekers. You can have cosleepers, I promote cosleepers, I think it's fantastic. The problem is that the babies don't want to stay in them. They want to get as close to their parent as they possibly can because that's what their survival depends on. Yes, mothers are tired. Most of them sleep with their babies specifically because they become less tired, because they get more sleep and so do their babies. There's a reason for this and so these easy rhetorical strategies are very, very inappropriate.

- But the more response you give them, you build a foundation of love and warmth and trust so that when you do need to use it, when you do need to set limits for your nine or 12 or 20-month-old, you're basing it on this very high level of communication and understanding and it's hard work and the very best selling books often don't do that. They do tell you to let the baby cry, which isn't, again, is not the best way to wrap your life around your baby.

- We're too used to having 100 to 200 years of thinking that the question should always be is it safe to sleep with your baby as opposed to what it always should have been, is it safe not to.

Is it safe to co-sleep? Famous pediatricians debate pros and cons of co-sleeping. American Academy of pediatrics disagrees with the number one researcher James McKenna.


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