The truth about bedsharing risks – and why it may not be what you think

December 15, 2011 at 6:45 am 10 comments

Welcome to the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival This post was written for inclusion in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival hosted by Monkey Butt Junction . Our bloggers have written on so many different aspects of cosleeping. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. ***

This post is an overview of the existing research into the safety of taking your baby into bed with you to sleep.  In it, I hope to explain why such different factions in the debate have reached such widely differing conclusions, and to clarify what the research actually shows.

A few quick notes, before starting:

1. It’s possible that you’re an exhausted new parent who stumbled on this when what you were actually Googling for was some easy-to-digest practical advice on how to bedshare as safely as possible, and that delving into the complications of the debate isn’t really what you’re after.  If so, I recommend the UNICEF BabyFriendly leaflet as the best resource I know of on the subject.

2. It’s also possible that you have personal reasons to find the topic of infant death particularly distressing.  If so, this is what’s generally known as a ‘trigger warning’, to tell you that this is a discussion of possible risk factors in infant smothering and SIDS deaths.

3. Terminology.  The term most often used for taking your baby into bed with you is ‘co-sleeping’ (which, of course, is also the one used in the title of the Carnival).  However, this technically covers any sleeping arrangement where your baby is within arm’s reach of you, including the usually-recommended one of a cot by the side of the bed.  Since the crux of the debate is how the safety of that arrangement compares to the safety of having your baby in the same bed as you, using a term that can refer to either arrangement does sometimes cause confusion; hence, I’ve gone for the term ‘bedsharing’ in this post.

4. Terminology, part 2: I’m from the UK, so I use the word ‘cot’ to refer to the kind of standard baby bed that goes by the name ‘crib’ in the US.  I’ve used that throughout this post simply because it’s the term that’s familiar to me.

5, added on reflection: As you can see, this post was submitted to a blogging carnival.  For anyone unfamiliar with how carnivals work, anyone who wants to submit a post on the topic can do so, taking whichever approach they wish, and everyone then links up to everyone else’s post at the end of theirs.  I’ve therefore included links to the posts of all other participants, but, of course, some of them will have different views from me on the subject.  For that reason, please do not take the inclusion of the links to other posts as implying that I agree with/endorse all the information contained therein.  Some of them I heartily do; some of them I emphatically don’t.

Right – that’s hopefully cleared all that up.  On with the post.

The controversy

Standard advice in most of the Western world is that you should NOT take your baby into bed with you to sleep as it’s much too dangerous.  I was originally planning to write something more sardonic about that view, but the public health department from Milwaukee has recently surpassed anything I could possibly come up with in the way of satire by, and I swear I am not making this up, publicity posters showing photos of a baby lying next to a meat cleaver with the caption ‘Sleeping with your baby can be just as dangerous’.  I really hope someone reports them to whichever organisation it is that’s supposed to ensure truth in advertising, because that would make a really interesting court case.

However, in recent decades, there has been an increasingly large pro-bedsharing contingent, chiefly the Attachment Parenting and Natural Parenting movements, claiming that the exact opposite is the case.  Not only is bedsharing quite safe given a few simple precautions, they say, but, if properly done, it actually reduces the risk of infant death.  And they will cite studies which they claim back up this viewpoint.

Caught in the middle of all this, as usual, are parents, and the amount of confusing and misleading information they’re getting on the subject isn’t helping anyone.  What makes this worse is that neither of the above two groups is actually right.

So, where are they both coming from on this?

Anti-bedsharing concerns

The concern over bedsharing comes largely from concerns that a baby might smother in an adult bed.  It’s not an unfounded concern; there have been many such tragedies in the past (1), with babies slipping down between the mattress and the wall, or the mattress and the headboard, or even the mattress and a safety rail designed to keep the baby in bed, and getting their heads trapped in such a way that they were unable to breathe.  Similar accidents can occur in cots too, of course – but cots are designed with infant occupants in mind, and manufacturers are held to safety standards which involve designing cots without any such gaps for a baby to get caught in.  Adult beds aren’t, and hence such deaths are considerably less rare in adult beds (2).

While it’s possible to adapt an adult bed in such a way as to minimise the risk, doing so properly can be a difficult matter involving some careful thought about the less obvious hazards and pitfalls.  For example, one of the ways often advocated is to push the bed flush against the wall so that the baby can’t either fall out or get trapped between bed and wall.  However, as one of the pro-bedsharing movement’s leading experts, Dr James McKenna, points out, this carries the risk that the bed will move just far enough away over time to create a dangerous gap, without the parents noticing.  What he suggests is to move the mattress off the bed frame altogether and putting it on the floor – a course of action which most people would probably find quite an extreme length to go to.    And given the difficulties in making an adult bed safe, it’s understandable that so many people take the attitude ‘Why take the risk in the first place?  Just put the baby in a cot.’

This approach to bedsharing risk has problems which I’ll discuss towards the end of the post.  First, there’s the other side of the bedsharing debate to consider.  In the face of possible smothering risks, why are so many people convinced that bedsharing actually reduces the risk to infants?  The answer lies in some of the research done into another, and less rare, cause of infant death: SIDS.

The pro-bedsharing case

SIDS is often confused with smothering in bedsharing discussions, but it’s important to understand that it is not the same thing.  SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as crib death or cot death – is the phenomenon of infant death for which no cause can be found.  (Smothering deaths are therefore, by definition, not SIDS deaths.)  SIDS, although every parents’ nightmare, is mercifully uncommon; but it is still substantially less rare a cause of death than getting trapped down the side of an adult bed and smothering there.  And research emerging in the 80s and 90s was raising a new and exciting possibility – that bedsharing might actually reduce the risk of dying of SIDS.

In 1990, James McKenna published the first of what would be several small studies looking at the physiology of infant sleep and how sleeping arrangements affect it.  His technique, in brief, was to monitor mother-baby pairs overnight in his laboratory, in each of two different arrangments – sharing a bed, and putting the baby in a cot in an adjacent room.  Each mother and baby would spend a night bedsharing and a night with the separate sleeping arrangements, and their measurements for the two nights would be compared.

Using this technique, McKenna was able to show some interesting differences in babies’ sleep behaviour according to their sleep arrangement.  On the nights that babies shared the bed with their mothers, they spent less time in deep sleep/surfaced from sleep more often (3), breastfed more often (4), and were more likely to have unexplained pauses in their breathing (5).

These results caused great excitement (the one about the increased risk of unexplained pauses in breathing was rather glossed over).  One plausible theory about SIDS is that it’s related to a baby slipping into too deep a sleep, with the normal arousal mechanisms not working properly.  And, of course, breastfeeding is already known to be beneficial.  Could these differences in sleep depth, arousal mechanisms, and breastfeeding frequency add up to a reduction in SIDS risk in babies who were bedsharing?  And, if so – since SIDS is a more frequent cause of death among babies than smothering as a result of sleeping in an adult bed, and since there were precautions that can reduce the risk of smothering during bedsharing to an extremely low level, could it be that bedsharing would prevent more deaths than it caused, and thus prove beneficial overall?

If so, this would be fantastic news.  Not only would any discovery of ways to reduce SIDS risk obviously be good news, but, as an extra bonus, this was the equivalent of someone coming up with a study that says that eating chocolate is really good for you.  Getting up for night feeds is one of the most horrible parts of being a parent.  Taking your baby into bed at night is one of the loveliest parts of being a parent.  Generations of exhausted mothers had struggled to deal with the first or opted in desperation for the second, facing the censure of baby experts for so doing.  You can imagine the enthusiasm with which they greeted the possibility that scientific evidence could now be vindicating them.

And other promising evidence was also emerging.  Acceptability and prevalence of bedsharing varies hugely from country to country (6).  When the rates of bedsharing in a number of different countries were compared with SIDS rates in those countries, an association showed up: not a cast-iron one, but there was certainly a tendency for cultures with higher rates of bedsharing to have lower SIDS rates.  Could that be cause and effect?

And, in Western cultures, as researchers compared the sleeping environments of babies who’d died of SIDS to those of living babies, it became apparent that the advice previously popular in the US and UK of putting your baby to bed in a separate room was actually not a good idea at all.  Sleeping in a different room  from the parents showed up as a strong risk factor.  If just having your baby in the same room as you could protect against SIDS, how much more effective might it be to have your baby in the same bed! The bedsharing case was looking better and better.

Unfortunately, this optimism would prove unfounded.

What further research has shown

Over the last two decades, a number of case-control studies have been done to look more directly at what risk factors might be involved in SIDS.  (Case-control studies are the type I described in the second part of the last paragraph – researchers look at the backgrounds of a group of babies who died of SIDS and a similar group of babies who haven’t, and compare the two to see whether any factors show up significantly more often in one group than the other.  The reason for doing things in this somewhat back-to-front way, in case you were wondering, is that SIDS is so rare.  As many people have pointed out, it would be better from the scientific point of view if we could start from the beginning and study groups of parents who do things in different ways, such as bedsharing vs. cot use, to compare the SIDS rates between the two – however, to get a large enough sample for there to be sufficient numbers of SIDS deaths in each group to compare and to look at different risk factors, you’d have to arrange for literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of families to be interviewed in detail to get all the information you needed, and that is just never going to be feasible.  Case-control studies, by starting with babies who’ve died of SIDS and finding comparison groups, allow researchers to gain a good approximation of this information by interviewing a few hundred families, which is manageable.)

The pro-bedsharing case took an initial wobble when the first case-control study to look at bedsharing announced that it increased SIDS risk (7).  However, things were still by no means that simple.  Research was also showing that some factors could make bedsharing particularly risky.   Bedsharing with a parent who smoked, for example, was associated with a far higher risk (smoking in a parent is associated with a major increase in SIDS risk anyway, but bedsharing with a smoker sent the risk up even further, possibly due to the higher rates of carbon monoxide and what-all else gunk that smokers normally have in their expired air compared to non-smokers).  Falling asleep with a baby on an armchair or sofa was also associated with a drastic increase in risk (this, of course, isn’t technically bedsharing, but it is a form of co-sleeping and thus gets categorised with bedsharing for research purposes.)  Other factors, which were risky under any circumstances (pillows, duvets, excessively soft mattresses), were more likely to be present in bedsharing situations but could potentially be removed if they were the only factors standing in the way of safe bedsharing.

(The above is not, by the way, intended by any means to be an exclusive list of the factors that might make bedsharing risky.  I’m just trying to mention some of the main ones to give a general idea.  Please do not take it as the final word on how to bedshare safely.  As I said above – if you want better advice, I think the UNICEF leaflet does the best job of covering different factors and giving realistic information.)

Analysing all bedsharing cases together without allowing for these factors could give an estimate of risk that wouldn’t apply across the board, and could obscure any potential benefit from bedsharing done in optimised, low-risk circumstances.  What would show up when further studies allowed for these excess risk factors in analysis?

Doing so did indeed eliminate the apparent extra SIDS risk that had initially showed up as associated with bedsharing (8).  When that study and several others (9 – 12) were analysed in such a way as to allow for higher-risk cases, the figures didn’t show any excess in SIDS risk for bedsharing with non-smoking parents who weren’t under the influence of anything (either prescribed or recreational) that might be making them excessively drowsy.  However…  they didn’t show any decreased risk, either.

No matter what other factors the studies controlled for that might be influencing risk, the best they showed was a similar risk for infants bedsharing in optimised conditions and infants cot-sleeping in optimised conditions.  The best hopes of the pro-bedsharing contingent hadn’t been borne out by the research.  And, given the increased risk of an infant smothering in a bed, if the SIDS risk was the same in either a bed or a cot then that still left bedsharing coming out as at least a bit more risky overall – and much more risky in any situations where best guidelines weren’t followed.

What was more, two more risk factors would emerge from further studies.  In 2004, the Lancet published the largest case-control study of SIDS ever done, in which the authors had looked at another risk factor: infant age.  Previous studies hadn’t made any differentiation between the youngest and oldest babies in the SIDS cases looked at.  However, when age was figured in as a factor, it turned out that bedsharing in the earliest months of a baby’s life was associated with an increased SIDS risk (13).  Several other studies have since confirmed this (14 – 16).  Bedsharing in the first few months is more risky.  The Lancet study showed that this age-associated risk is highest of all at birth, falling off steadily over subsequent months but taking a few months to drop to zero extra risk.

And in 2005, the CESDI SUDI research group did some further analysis on the figures from their 1999 study to look at how prematurity and low birth weight might affect bedsharing risk.  They found that, in the group of infants who were either premature or weighed less than five and a half pounds (2.5 kg) at birth, bedsharing with even a non-smoking parent was associated with a whopping 15 times the increase in risk, even when other risk factors were controlled for (17).  As far as I have been able to find, nobody else has looked into this particular risk factor, so I have no more information on this – however, it clearly bears taking into account.

Given all this evidence, is it possible still to believe in completely safe bedsharing?  Well… maybe.  There’s always going to be some factor you can’t control for in studies, some ‘Yes, but what about if we…’ suggestion.  If, for example, you get rid of the bed altogether and just put a futon on the floor, find some bedding arrangement that eliminates the need for duvets, pillows, or anything that could go over the baby’s face, don’t smoke or drink, have a normal-weight full-term baby, don’t start bedsharing until after the riskier period in the early months, and don’t have any other factor I haven’t mentioned that might make bedsharing more risky, then it’s quite possible that your sleeping arrangement actually will be every bit as safe as having the baby in a cot by the side of your bed.  There’s still no evidence that it’ll be any safer, but you may well have achieved the lesser Holy Grail of reducing the excess risk to zero.  The thing is, there just aren’t ever going to be very many parents who want to, or even can, go to these sorts of lengths.

So – where does this leave us?

Firstly, although I have not as yet seen any case-controlled or epidemiological studies comparing the risks of bedsharing to the risks of putting your baby to sleep in the same bed as a meat cleaver, I do feel confident in saying that that one’s an exaggeration.  However, on a more serious note – what do we do with the fact that the overall evidence does seem to point towards there being some risks, however small, associated with bedsharing in any sort of form in which most parents in the Western world are going to be able to practice it?   Should we go with the ‘Just say no’ crowd on this subject?

I think there are two problems with that approach.  Firstly, for some parents it isn’t possible.  Some babies just don’t sleep in cots, and there are physical limits on how much sleep deprivation anyone can stand before their body will take a hand and fall asleep despite their best efforts.  If we dole out blanket advice against all bedsharing [aaaarrrrggghhhh - would you believe I've only just noticed the entirely unintentional pun there? Sorry], we do run a very real risk that some parents will become so utterly exhausted in their struggle not to bedshare that they’ll end up simply falling asleep with their baby under the duvet or, worse, on the sofa with them and putting the baby at far more risk than if they’d deliberately planned and created a minimal-risk bedsharing environment.

Secondly, we don’t, in other circumstances, expect parents to provide a zero-risk environment for their babies.  Nobody tells parents that because there is no such thing as risk-free driving, no matter how safely it’s done, they should never never never take their babies for a car ride or cross a road.  We accept other small risks as part of life.  Barring extremes, we let people make their own choices as to what level of risk they feel comfortable accepting – for themselves or their children.

There are circumstances where the risk associated with bedsharing is considerably higher, to the point where you probably should indeed be avoiding it – if anyone in the bed is a smoker, if your baby is premature/very small, if you’re taking anything (prescribed or recreational) that impairs your reactions to the point of putting you at potential risk of rolling over on your baby.  And I do think it’s worth doing whatever you can, within whatever sleep situation you feel it best for you and your family to try, to do whatever else you can to lower the risk of either SIDS or smothering.  But I think that, when we’re talking about a situation where the absolute risk is very low, it should ultimately be the job of parents to make their own informed decisions as to just what risk level they feel comfortable with.

However, to make informed decisions, people need accurate information. The problem with the pro-bedsharing contingent is that the message that they overwhelmingly put across – bedsharing protects your baby, everyone should do it, all it takes is a few simple precautions – isn’t very accurate.

Some sources leave parents with the impression that as long as they haven’t actually been drinking alcohol or taking drugs then there shouldn’t be a problem.  Most will give more detailed advice than this, but it’s still astonishing how rarely this includes the advice that babies are at much higher risk if they bedshare with a smoker, or if they’re premature and/or of low birth weight.  Parents are also getting inaccurate and contradictory advice – for example, Dr Sears, a famous pro-bedsharing advocate, advises that beds should be pushed flush against the wall, but James McKenna points out that this may actually increase risk.  The advice that babies should sleep between parents used to be popular, until the Chicago study showed that this, too, increased risk (11).  And if all this is in the context of a background that bedsharing is quite all right, even protective, how seriously are parents going to take the need to be careful about the risks anyway?  There’s a real risk that it’ll be seen as not that much of a big deal, since bedsharing’s so safe/beneficial anyway….

There will always be parents who bedshare for practical reasons.  But increasing numbers of parents are making the choice to bedshare because attachment parenting/natural parenting groups are selling it to them as a wonderful, harmless, beneficial thing.  If these parents knew more about the risks, some would make the same choice.  Others might well choose not to bedshare, while still others might be more careful about precautions.  These families are being given incomplete and incorrect information, and hence are not being given the chance to make their own properly informed choices.

Simplistic anti-bedsharing campaigns are not the answer.  They aren’t providing parents with proper information either; they may increase the risk of very unsafe forms of bedsharing; and the more ridiculously over-the-top campaigns (coughMilwaukeemeatcleaveradscough) can backfire badly, by looking so ridiculous that it makes it easy for the pro-bedsharing campaign to step in with their much more plausible-sounding, attractive message of how safe and desirable bedsharing is.  Somehow, we have to find a way simultaneously to let parents know how to reduce bedsharing risk as much as possible and to make it clear to them that there is a risk.  I’m not under any illusions that it’ll be easy to find a sensible middle ground in which parents can be given clear, easy-to-follow information based on evidence rather than agendas.  But we have to try; because it’s what parents, and babies, deserve.

References

(Links are to the full study where this is available on line for free, and otherwise to the abstract.)

1. Nakamura S. et al. Review of Hazards Associated With Children Placed in Adult Beds. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1999; 153: 1019 – 23.

2. Scheers NJ et al. Where Should Infants Sleep? A Comparison of Risk for Suffocation of Infants Sleeping in Cribs, Adult Beds, and Other Sleeping Locations. Pediatrics 2003; 112(4): 883 – 9.

3. Mosko S, Richard C, McKenna J. Infant arousals during mother-infant bed sharing: implications for infant sleep and sudden infant death syndrome research. Pediatrics 1997; 100(5): 841 – 9.

4. McKenna JJ, Mosko SS, Richard CA.  Bedsharing promotes breastfeeding.  Pediatrics 1997; 100(2 pt 1): 214 – 9.

5. Richard CA, Mosko SS, and McKenna JJ.  Apnea and periodic breathing in bed-sharing and solitary sleeping infants.  Journal of Applied Physiology 1998; 84(4): 1374 – 80.

6. Nelson EA et al. Early Human Development 2001; 62(1): 43 – 55.

7. Mitchell E et al. Four modifiable and other major risk factors for cot death: the New Zealand study. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 1992; 28(suppl 1): 53 – 8.

8. Scragg R. et al. Bed sharing, smoking, and alcohol in the sudden infant death syndrome. BMJ 1993; 307(6915): 1312 – 8.

9. Klonoff-Cohen H., Edelstein SL. Bed sharing and the sudden infant death syndrome. BMJ 1995; 311: 1269.

10. Blair PS, Fleming PJ et al.  Babies sleeping with parents: case-control study of factors influencing the risk of the sudden infant death syndrome.  BMJ 1999; 319: 1457 – 62.

11. Hauk SF et al. Sleep Environment and the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in an Urban Population: The Chicago Infant Mortality Study. Pediatrics 2003; 111(5 pt 2): 1207 – 14.

12. Blair PS et al.  Hazardous cosleeping environments and risk factors amenable to change: case-control study of SIDS in south west England.  BMJ 2009;339:b3666

13. Carpenter RG et al.  Sudden unexplained infant death in 20 regions in Europe: case control study.  The Lancet 2004; 363: 185 – 91.

14. Tappin D, Ecob R., and Brooke H.  Bedsharing, roomsharing, and sudden infant death syndrome in Scotland: a case-control study.  Journal of Pediatrics 2005; 147: 32 – 7.

15. McGarvey C et al.  An 8-year study of risk factors for SIDS: bed-sharing versus non-bed-sharing.  Archives of Disease in Childhood 2006; 91(4): 318 – 23.

16. Vennemann MM et al.  Sleep Environment Risk Factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: The German Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Study.  Pediatrics 2009; 123(4): 1162.

17. Blair PS et al.  Sudden infant death syndrome and sleeping position in pre-term and low birth weight infants: an opportunity for targeted intervention.  Arch Dis Child 2006; 91(2): 101 – 6.

*******
Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival

Thanks for reading a post in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival. On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the #CosleepCar hashtag.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

***

Emotive Co-Sleeping Campaign – Miriam at Diary of an Unconscious Mother talks about her feelings on Milwaukee’s anti-cosleeping crusade and its latest advertising campaign.
Why Cosleeping has Always been the Right Choice for My Family – Patti at Jazzy Mama shares how lucky she feels to have the privilege of sleeping with her four children.
Cosleeping is a safe, natural and healthy solution parents need to feel good about. – See how Tilly at Silly Blatherings set up a side-car crib configuration to meet her and her families’ needs.
Black and White: Race and the Cosleeping Wars – Moorea at Mama Lady: Adventures in Queer Parenting points out the problem of race, class and health when addressing co-sleeping deaths and calls to action better sleep education and breastfeeding support in underprivileged communities.
Reflections on Cosleeping – Jenny at I’m a Full Time Mummy shares her thoughts on cosleeping and pictures of her cosleeping beauties.
Cosleeping and Transitioning to Own Bed – Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine shares her experiences in moving beyond the family bed.
What Works for One FamilyMomma Jorje shares why cosleeping is for her and why she feels it is the natural way to go. She also discusses the actual dangers and explores why it may not be for everyone.
Really High Beds, Co-Sleeping Safely, and the Humanity Family Sleeper – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives a quick view of Jennifer’s bed-sharing journey and highlights the Humanity Family Sleeper, something Jennifer could not imagine bed-sharing without.
Crying in Our Family Bed – With such a sweet newborn, why has adding Ailia to the family bed made Dionna at Code Name: Mama cry?
Dear Mama: – Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares a letter from the viewpoint of her youngest son about cosleeping.
Cuddle up, Buttercup! – Nada of The MiniMOMist and her husband Michael have enjoyed cosleeping with their daughter Naomi almost since birth. Nada shares why the phrase “Cuddle up, Buttercup!” has such special significance to her.
Co-Sleeping With A Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler – Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how co-sleeping calls us to trust our inner maternal wisdom and embrace the safety and comfort of the family bed.
Fear instead of Facts: An Opportunity Squandered in Milwaukee – Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction discusses Milwaukee’s missed opportunity to educate on safe cosleeping

Cosleeping: A Mini-rant and a Lovely Picture – Siobhan at Res Ipsa Loquitor discusses her conversion to cosleeping and rants a little bit about the Milwaukee Health Department anti-cosleeping campaign.
Our Cosleeping Story – Adrienne at Mommying My Way shares her cosleeping story and the many bonus side effects of bedsharing.
Cosleeping can be safe and rewarding Christy at Mommy Outnumbered shares how her cosleeping experiences have been good for her family.
Adding one more to the family bed Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the safety logistics of bed sharing with a new baby and a preschooler.
The Truth About Bedsharing – Dr. Sarah at Parenting Myths and Facts discusses the research into bedsharing and risk – and explains why it is so often misrepresented.
Cosleeping as a parenting survival tool – Melissa V. at Mothers of Change describes how she discovered cosleeping when her first baby was born. Melissa is the editor and a board member for the Canadian birth advocacy group, Mothers of Change.

Dear Delilah – Joella at Fine and Fair writes about her family bed and the process of finding the cosleeping arrangements that work best for her family.
CoSleeping ROCKS! – Melissa at White Noise talks about the evolution of cosleeping in her family.
Safe Sleep is a Choice – Tamara at Pea Wee Baby talks about safe sleep guidelines.
3 Babies Later: The Evolution of our Family Bed – Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment talks about how her family’s cosleeping arrangements evolved as her family grew.
Tender MomentsThe Accidental Natural Mama discusses tender cosleeping moments.
Cosleeping Experiences – Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure describes how she ended up co-sleeping with her daughter through necessity, despite having no knowledge of the risks involved and how to minimise them, and wishes more information were made available to help parents co-sleep safely.
The early days of bedsharing – Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares her early memories of bedsharing with her then new born and gets excited as she plans including their new arrival into their sleeping arrangements.

The Joys of Cosleeping in Pictures – Charise of I Thought I Knew Mama shares pictures of some of her favorite cosleeping moments.
Symbiotic Sleep – Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children discusses how the symbiotic cosleeping relationship benefits not only children but also parents.
Co-sleeping Barriers: What’s Stopping You? – Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares how she was almost prevented from gaining the benefits of co-sleeping her family currently enjoys.
Co-Sleeping with the Family Humanity Sleeper – Erica at ChildOrganics shares a way to make co-sleeping safe, comfortable and more convenient. Check out her post featuring the Humanity Organic Family Sleeper.
Why We CosleepThat Mama Gretchen’s husband chimes in on why cosleeping is a benefit to their family.
Adding to the Family Bed – Darah at A Girl Named Gus writes about her co-sleeping journey and what happens when a second child comes along.


A big thank you to all of the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival participants!

Entry filed under: Bedsharing. Tags: , , .

Hello and welcome!

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Melissa Vose  |  December 15, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    This is by far the best article I have ever read on this topic!! Thank you for your obvious commitment to research and information sharing with a healthy dose of common sense. I second your sentiments exactly! There are problems with both camps; the anti co bedding camp and the pro co bedding camp, and elimination of risk is not realistic. I’ve often thought there is a parallel between bed sharing and driving in a vehicle~a risk with benefits it is reasonable to take, and for which it is beneficial to know how to do it more safely.
    I like how you emphasized the need to room share, and how it is separate from bed sharing. I’m going to bookmark and share this post far and near.
    Thanks also for the link to the UNICEF pamphlet~very good. Awesome post!! Thank you! =)

    Reply
  • 2. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama  |  December 15, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Excellent research, thank you for compiling it!

    Reply
  • 3. Christy  |  December 16, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Awesome post! So informative, you did an amazing job researching it all.

    Reply
  • 4. ConstanceW  |  December 22, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Totally amazing post. Really the best thing I have read on the subject. Gosh, hardly know what to say.
    Constance

    Reply
  • 5. calmdowndear  |  December 24, 2011 at 2:23 am

    great post! Well done!

    Reply
  • [...] at Hobo Mama discusses the safety logistics of bed sharing with a new baby and a preschooler. The Truth About Bedsharing – Dr. Sarah at Parenting Myths and Facts discusses the research into bedsharing and risk [...]

    Reply
  • 7. Robin  |  July 16, 2012 at 2:46 am

    I’m late in seeing this, but I have to post and thank you for writing it. I looked for a year for a good summary of the available research on bedsharing before finally stumbling across your article. I think that your weighing up at the end is the smartest, most level-headed thing I’ve read on the subject. If only more parenting discussions were like this.

    Reply
  • 8. Bed Sharing | Chhoto Pakhi  |  August 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    [...] The Truth About Bedsharing Risks – And Why It May Not Be What You Think on Parenting Myths, Parenting Facts (bottom of post has both both academic references and personal blog posts on bed sharing) [...]

    Reply
  • 9. Bed Sharing | Full Bed  |  October 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    [...] The Truth About Bedsharing Risks – And Why It May Not Be What You Think on Parenting Myths, Parenting Facts (bottom of post has both both academic references and personal blog posts on bed sharing) [...]

    Reply
  • 10. Erynn Schwellinger  |  April 30, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Wish I’d seen this when i first sartd cosleeping. Baby wouldn’t sleep any other way – a frank discussin with honesty about the risks would have been lovely.

    Reply

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