Moms want to keep their baby close at all times. In Indian society, co-sleeping with the baby is a norm, and as parents, we often sleep with our little ones at least till they are well into toddlerhood. While cosleeping definitely has some drawbacks, it has the big benefit of keeping your child in close proximity. Time and again, there has been controversy about this practice. There have been conflicting reports on whether co-sleeping is healthy and if keeping babies too close can be detrimental to their development. But a recent, conclusive study by the American Academy of Pediatrics has laid to rest all apprehension about this. Here is what they have to say.
New parents are best advised to keep their babies close to them while sleeping. Doing this reduces the risk of sleep-related deaths and the possibility of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in infants. This frightening syndrome leads to the sudden death of an infant with the cause remaining unexplained. The study has shown that sleeping in the same room can decrease SIDS risk by 50 percent in infants up to 1 year.
However, here's the important detail: it is also imperative that the baby sleep in a different bed than the mother – even while sleeping in the same room! The AAP advises that babies sleep in their parents’ bedrooms, but in a separate crib, for at least the first six months, and, optimally, until the baby is 1 year old. After reviewing previous research, the conclusion is that the safest way to put an infant down to sleep is on the baby’s back and in a separate bed near the mother.
Why your baby should NOT share your bed
The primary reason for this recommendation is that babies require a bed specially designed for them. Their sleeping space must never have soft bedding or objects that can cause blockage to their airway. Their beds must be free from pillows, sheets, blankets or any other items that could interfere with their breathing. In fact, sleeping in an adult bed that is likely to have these objects can also cause overheating. This is why, even if you are breastfeeding, singing a lullaby, or just cradling your baby while sitting on your bed or say, the sofa, be very careful. You must NEVER let the baby fall asleep anywhere but in his own, personal bed that has a tight-fitting sheet and a firm base.
The highest risk of death by SIDS occurs in infants under 6 months old. The diagnosis for deaths caused by SIDS continues to be bleak and no one cause can be nailed down. However, the unifying thread in these shocking deaths is that they usually occur during sleep. This is why we absolutely must guarantee that our babies are safe while sleeping. Yes, it is a continuing challenge to keep ourselves from sharing our own bed with our baby. But if this can help keep them safer and make their sleep quality better, then this is what we should endeavour to do.
Here are the other guidelines issued by the AAP that help reduce the risk of sleep-related deaths in infants:
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