Without restating everything that I said in my first post, I will leave a link to it here.
I will restate this part:
The Crib vs. Adult Bed Research
Let's talk about the research. And, let's start with Dr. Sears, who was the first person to say that co-sleeping was good for babies - and parents! Dr. Sears also co-slept with his children. He says that when parents ask him, "Where should my baby sleep?", he responds by telling the parent that they should have their baby sleep wherever baby and parent sleep best. Period.
Dr. McKenna is a well-known SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) researcher who will testify that the adult bed is safer than a crib. His testimony is the result of 30 years of research and you can read his article "Co-Sleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone". But, basically, if you don't want to read the article, Dr. McKenna discusses several topics, including how sleeping next to your baby is "biologically appropriate", different organizations that DO support bed-sharing, and that the family bed environment can be made to be SAFER than the crib.
According to Dr. McKenna, the following organizations support the family bed:
- The Academy of Breast Feeding Medicine
- The USA Breast Feeding Committee
- The Breast Feeding section of the American Academy of Pediatrics
- La Leche League International
Dr. Margot Sunderland, the director of education and training from The Centre for Child Mental Health in London agrees with Dr. McKenna's stance on co-sleeping, as well. She says that children whose parents co-slept with them tend to grow up to be calmer, healthier adults, and they also may experience less amounts of stress than children who slept in cribs alone. Her book, The Science of Parenting, explains her opinion on bed-sharing.
In Dr. Sunderland's book, she uses evidence from 800 different scientific studies to prove her theory, that co-sleeping is by far healthier than an infant sleeping alone. Many of the studies that Dr. Sunderland examined included brain scans to find out how infants' and kids' brains react in particular situations. She says that cortisol, a hormone that is related to stress, is increased in the infant body when they are separated from their parents.
One neurological study even revealed that the brain activity of an infant who is separated from a parent showed similarities to exhibiting physical pain! (And then we have the parents who let their babies CIO - "cry it out"! I'm not trying to judge here, but just imagine putting these two concepts together. Infants who sleep alone in cribs exhibiting signs of physical pain in their brain scans and then the parents practicing the CIO method. What exactly does the baby LEARN from this? When they are in pain, they cry and no one comes to comfort them?)
Dr. Sunderland says that children should sleep with their parents up until they are 5 years old for maximum benefits and that this long-term co-sleeping is much healthier for children than sleeping alone.
Meredith F. Small, the author of Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent, says that according to studies, when a mother co-sleeps with her baby, the infant learns how to regulate his or her heartbeat, breathing, muscle movements, and brain wave activity. These same studies revealed that infants who sleep alone experience a difficult time regulating their body functions. These infants are also fussier and have more sporadic breathing.
Now, the facts and figures:
I told you that I would back up my choice with real, hard statistics, so you're probably wondering at this point,"Where are the REAL facts and statistics?" After all, all I have done is talk about some doctors' opinions, which goes against the majority of doctors and organizations across America.
First, let's talk about Japan. In Japan, the bed-sharing is a normal practice in their culture. You won't hear a Japanese pediatrician (unless they are practicing in America, of course) claim that the family bed is a big no-no.
Get this: Japan has the lowest SIDS rates in the world. Additionally, the SIDS Global Task Force conducted an international survey which revealed that cultures, like Japan, that practiced the highest amount of bed-sharing and co-sleeping produced the lowest SIDS rates. Food for thought...
Are these facts still too vague for you? No problem, I have more.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted a study about SIDS that was released in 1999. Here's what they came up with:
- There were 515 cases of accidental deaths of infants in adult beds between 1990 and 1997. If broken down by year, there was an average of 65 infant deaths each year in adult beds.
- During the same period of time, there were 34,000 total SIDS cases. That breaks down to about 4,250 cases each year.
What needs to be done is a REAL comparison of SIDS deaths in the adult bed versus SIDS deaths in a crib to ensure that there are no misconceptions. Until this type of study is conducted, I still would wager that the majority of the 98.5% of deaths did, in fact, occur in cribs, bassinets, playpens, and other products that were being used in order to avoid the family bed.
I do wish that pediatricians, child services agencies, and the like would provide parents with the real, hard facts rather than a generalized SAFE SLEEPING PRACTICES they tout. Please feel free to read the entire original co-sleeping controversy blog post that I researched and wrote and make the right decision, the safest decision for you and your child, without being forced into something that someone else thinks is best for you.
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