How the benefits of co-sleeping continue as a child grows

James McKenna, PhD, shares evidence from a recent study that shows that kids who co-slept from birth are often much more self-sufficient
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How the benefits of co-sleeping continue as a child grows

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It’s very true that the functions of co-sleeping changes with the age of the child. For example, the newborn baby and the neonate is extremely neurologically immature at birth and thus the contact and proximity of its mother, the exchange of sensory signals and cues is very much promotion of survival and wellbeing of that baby. It’s very regulatory of the baby’s very, very immature physiologically. As a child gets bigger and develops neurologically and the brain begins to identify who’s caring for it – that is to say social cognitive and intellectual development takes place in the brain; the child’s able to derive psychological meaning that affirms and perhaps responds to its needs and its fears in ways that obviously the little neonate would not be able to benefit by. Wendy Goldberg has shown upon studying toddlers that co-slept from birth that they’re able to be alone much better and are more self sufficient and indeed are able to solve problems much more thoroughly and effectively than are toddlers that from birth are forced to sleep alone.


James McKenna, PhD, shares evidence from a recent study that shows that kids who co-slept from birth are often much more self-sufficient

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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.

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