Bed-sharing with Young Infants: Is It Safe After All?

I see many parents co-sleep with their infants and children, usually because of cultural traditions. Science of Mom has been kind enough to review the literature around the risks of co-sleeping and has emphasized these three points for maximum safety:
Don’t co-sleep on a couch or chair. If you feed your baby on a couch or chair during the night, and you think there is a chance that you’ll fall asleep there, you’ll probably actually be safer – not to mention more comfortable – feeding in bed.
Don’t bed-share if either parent in the bed has had more than 2 drinks of alcohol. (And as a side note, babies should only bed-share with their parents, not kids, pets, or other adults.)
Don’t bed-share if either parent smokes, especially with babies younger than 3 months.

The Science of Mom

Does bed-sharing with infants increase their risk of SIDS, even without known risk factors such as alcohol use, smoking, and co-sleeping on a couch or chair? A recent study makes what is probably the best attempt to date to answer this question. The study, led by U.K. researcher Peter Blair, was published last week in the journal PLOS ONE and is freely available to the public (yay!).1

Many studies have found that co-sleeping is associated with an increased risk of SIDS, but most of this risk doesn’t come from co-sleeping per se, but rather doing so in particularly hazardous conditions, such as on a couch or with a parent who has been drinking. However, there’s an important, albeit controversial, caveat to this conclusion. Several studies have looked specifically at infants younger than 3 months and still found a significant risk of bed-sharing even in the absence of…

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Categories: Ask A Pediatrician, Behaviour and Development, Parenting, Safety, Sleep

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