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Right. Can we get this straight about co-sleeping?

(66 Posts)
OutsideOverThere Fri 01-Mar-13 11:05:25

I've been told twice in the last week not to co-sleep, first by a HV at clinic, then by the GP when I asked her to clarify.

I'm assuming these are government guidelines but have they recently changed?

I co slept with ds1 and ds2 and am now doing so with ds3, who is 8 weeks old. Heck I even had a long quote in the MN book on babies a few years ago, on this very topic <expert> grin but now suddenly I feel rather alone and a bit worried that no one else is doing it, it's all terribly wrong anddangerous and I need to stop now.

I love co sleeping. Ds2 is still in the bed and he's nearly 6. But I wanted to check on here as I've always got the impression from this place that co sleeping is good, and wholesome and best for the baby.

And isn't it the case that babies regulate their breathing better when next to their parent? I'm sure I read this somewhere.

Help sad

Panzee Fri 01-Mar-13 11:22:52

Apologies: I have come on your thread to hijack/ pick up tips about cosleeping. My new son appears to be heading down the cosleeping route. I just can't work out the logistics, so I am watching for tips on how to be safe. smile

OutsideOverThere Fri 01-Mar-13 11:25:10

Panzee that's absolutely fine smile Welcome.

ArbitraryUsername Fri 01-Mar-13 11:25:34

People do co-sleep. Never fear. However the official advice is that babies should sleep in their own bed in the same room as their parents, afaik. Doesn't mean you have to follow it.

showtunesgirl Fri 01-Mar-13 11:26:50

It totally depends on what country you're in as to whether they think it's bad or good! In many South East Asian countries, it's totally the norm.

Booboostoo Fri 01-Mar-13 11:27:28

As far as I know the main tips for safe co-sleeping are:
- not to drink
- not to take drugs or medication that might make you drowsy
- baby sleeps next to mum and wall, dad sleeps next to mum
- remove duvets, pillows, etc that can cover baby's face
- use a firm mattress so baby can sleep flat without risk of getting wedged anywhere.

whatyoulookinat Fri 01-Mar-13 11:30:33

I did it with all 3 dcs without any problems including a 5lb baby. I'm a light sleeper, don't smoke & didn't drink alcohol while doing it.

OutsideOverThere Fri 01-Mar-13 11:30:45

Thanks guys. It just seemed like no one was willing to say, yes, do it, when reading some of the research in the past it seemed like the best thing to do.

I hate feeling like some sort of rebel iykwim. I want to be thought of as a decent parent but this sort of thing makes it very hard. I've so far just smiled and nodded but have no real intention of stopping as I think it's safer in some ways.

Loislane78 Fri 01-Mar-13 11:31:18

I did it when v small and now at 6.5 mo if its a bad night.


Loislane78 Fri 01-Mar-13 11:33:15

BTW - Also did it in hospital and none of the MW said anything.

Swaddling was fine and apparently now not, weaning at 4 mo was fine and now not (unless DR's orders), eating x,y,z was out now fine etc. etc.

Do what you think is right I reckon smile

Quenelle Fri 01-Mar-13 11:33:52

When DS was a newborn my HV gave me a leaflet advising on how to do it safely. I don't have it any more and can't find it online unfortunately. Have you tried looking at what's available online from your health authority?

HeadFairy Fri 01-Mar-13 11:35:00

I co slept with dd from birth to 13 months pretty much every night, still do when she's poorly. I followed all the advice re safe co sleeping, and neither dh nor I smoke.

My sister recoils in horror at the thought of sleeping with children but I love it, there's nothing so nice as a soft warm baby next to you to!

CharlandOscar Fri 01-Mar-13 11:35:57

I know loads of people that co sleep. either part time or full time. My little one comes into bed with me about 3/4 in the morning (ebf)
i sleep better without him in the bed as Ive noticed I dont sleep as deeply when he is next to me.
Ive been told its safer for bf babies rather than formula fed due to hormones released when feeding.
I go to a bf group and co sleeping is recommended.
I think its one of the most wonderful things having your baby asleep next to you

HeadFairy Fri 01-Mar-13 11:36:49

lois I did it in hospital too (cs and it was much easier than reaching round to cot, plus dd hated cots of any sort) she slept on my chest until she was 8 weeks old!

OutsideOverThere Fri 01-Mar-13 11:41:26

Thankyou so much, this is really helping. How on earth do you manage with HVs and so on though. I suppose just try not to mention it? Probably my mistake was asking them if it was Ok. I think I was hoping they would say, yes, wonderful! and we could talk about all the reasons for this.

But no sad

worldgonecrazy Fri 01-Mar-13 11:41:33

As a fulltime working and bfing mum (went back when DD was 14 weeks) there is no way I could have survived at work if I didn't cosleep. It gave me an excuse for early nights, and precious cuddles with my baby. We are still cosleeping now at 3 because otherwise we wouldn't spend as much time together. I love snuggling with my little girl, and bed times have never been an issue. She goes to bed first at weekends, safe and secure knowing we will be coming up to bed once she's asleep.

ChunkyPickle Fri 01-Mar-13 11:41:46

I co-slept with DS from about 2 months when DP realised it was the only way we'd all get sleep (and that he loved having a little snuffly one in bed with us)

Apart from a brief stint in his own bed (a few months when he was just 2) DS is back in with us again (2.5) - personally I think it's because it's winter and he likes having someone warm to snuggle up to, and since I feel the same way I can hardly blame him.

I plan to co-sleep with our next baby, due September because I need my sleep, our house is cold, and TBH I feel that there is more risk from me/DP stumbling around in the dark with the baby in a moses basket than there is from sleeping with me curled around him/her.

Quite what DS is going to make of it I don't know - thank god we have a kingsize bed.

CaptainCalamari Fri 01-Mar-13 11:42:48

Lois Can I ask how you coslept in hospital? I was in for a week with DC1 and basically sat up all night every night holding him, as he would scream the place down in his designated plastic box sad The bed seemed too high and narrow for us to sleep next to each other though... probably my biggest fear of having DC2 is a repeat of this hell, so tips on cosleeping in hospital would be fab!
To answer OP, I get frustrated with this too - from what I've read a lot of cosleeping studies confuse safe cosleeping with falling asleep on a sofa, and consequently say its dangerous. You'd think health professionals could use a bit of sense in interpreting the data!

OutsideOverThere Fri 01-Mar-13 11:43:55

Chunky yes I've been told to put him in a cot or moses basket nearby but honestly, I doubt I'd wake when he did if he wasn't next to me.

I just wouldn't notice the snuffling and wriggling and he'd have to get to the crying stage before I woke. I hate the idea of that.

ChunkyPickle Fri 01-Mar-13 11:44:19

Last time I had a pack and play cot sat in the corner of the room that I bought assuming I'd need it. The HV just assumed that that was where he was sleeping and didn't even question it.

If they had I would have said, and then just nodded and smiled at whatever they said and carried on doing what was working for us.

OutsideOverThere Fri 01-Mar-13 11:46:17

I wasn't allowed to co sleep with ds1 in hospital - but I did anyway as they threatened to give him a bottle unless he fed. So I just got him in the bed and kept him there and they gave up. I think they were worried about him falling off, fair enough - the side rails are crap and useless.

This time I laid ds3 across the bed, and sat at the end barely moving for about 15 hours till I was allowed home. Just feeding him and so on when necessary. I didn't sleep at all, I couldn't. The plastic boxes are horrible.

ChunkyPickle Fri 01-Mar-13 11:46:35

Outside - I had the opposite problem, with him across the room in a cot all I could do was listen to the snuffles (which kept me awake), or if he wasn't snuffling, strain my ears waiting for his next breath (or get up and put my hand on him to check.. pfb..)

With him next to me I found it easier to drift off into a light sleep which was actually restful.

OutsideOverThere Fri 01-Mar-13 11:48:05

Yes good point Chunky, I actually thought s I was writing that, I'd probably be too worried to sleep at all if he wasn't with me!

It seems so bonkers that this is frowned on.

aufaniae Fri 01-Mar-13 11:49:57

AFAIK, the professional advice on co-sleeping is based on studies which shows that babies are at more danger from SIDS and death from other causes such as suffocation when sleeping. So they advise us not to do it.

However it's not as simple as that!

The studies are not a comparison of people sleeping with their babies according to the safety rules as compared to babies in cots.

What the studies counts as co-sleeping includes known dangerous practices such as sleeping with a baby on a sofa in the "co-sleeping" group.

This (US) article probably explains it clearer than I can!

" Does Co-sleeping Lead to SIDS?

Does cosleeping really lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)? Are pacifiers really a smart way of preventing SIDS? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) would like you to think so, releasing this fall what other medical experts have called “an ill-advised and ill-informed statement” that simply flies in the face of reason.

Recommendations that advise against parent-infant bed-sharing and support the generic use of pacifiers imply a “truly astounding triumph of ethnocentric assumptions over common sense and medical research,” according to Nancy Wight, M.D., president of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.

Yet if we review the very same research the AAP used to come to its conclusions, the message is clear: The relative risk of death to infants who sleep in a safe adult bed with a safe parent is not greater than those who sleep next to their parents’ beds – and their risk of death is far smaller than that of infants who sleep in a crib in another room. In fact, for infants over 2 to 3 months of age, the studies show that letting infants sleep in the same bed as their parents in fact protects them from SIDS more effectively than placing them near their bed.

Infants are at risk of suffocation in adult beds, just as they are in cribs. The clear message should be that adult beds need to be made safe, without overly fluffy or heavy bedding, wedging dangers, overheating, siblings (with a very young infant), parents who have consumed drugs or alcohol or parents who smoke. Sofa sleeping is not safe with babies.

Yet the message we get from the AAP is that cosleeping is unsafe – period. While breastfeeding is shown to reduce SIDS, the AAP does not even mention breastfeeding. Instead, the AAP promotes the use of pacifiers – an intervention that can impede breastfeeding and that the AAP recommends without appropriate substantiation.

Safe co-sleeping = healthy co-sleeping

Unfortunately, none of the studies cited by the AAP report bother to derive from their statistics a risk ratio for deaths of babies co-sleeping in a family bed with safe, non-smoking, sober parents who take reasonable efforts to reduce wedging and other suffocation dangers. From the available statistics, full numbers can only be guessed at – but cosleeping in safe conditions is clearly as safe or safer than sleeping in cribs in the same room as parents and far safer than sleeping in cribs in another room. Contradictory to the AAP’s statements, it is clear that limiting safe cosleeping will not reduce SIDS.

How could the facts from these research reports become so confused? It’s important to understand what’s actually meant by the terms used in the research.

The term “adult bed” usually includes dangerous sofas, sofa chairs, make-shift beds and waterbeds, which account for a large portion of the adult-surface deaths. Also, the term doesn’t necessarily mean cosleeping is occurring, only that an infant is sleeping on that particular surface. An infant sleeping alone on an adult bed is at greater risk than when sleeping there with a parent. Failing to understand these points makes appropriate adult bed-sharing mistakenly sound dangerous.

” Bed-sharing/cosleeping” statistics and comments usually lump together cases of infants sleeping with any adult in any state, including over-exhausted, intoxicated adults, smoking adults, other children and even combinations of these. These comments and statistics also generally include dangerous practices such as sofa-sharing. Another limiting factor of these definitions is that they usually include statistics on infants who coslept at any point during the night of their SIDS-related death – not necessarily at the time of death. Conscientious parents are scared away from safe cosleeping by such slanted reporting.

SIDS or suffocation?

Notice that most studies define all unexpected infant deaths as SIDS, while a few pose suspected suffocations as distinct from SIDS. The resulting statistics are quite different. While cosleeping may reduce actual SIDS, suffocation risks are greater for bed-sharing (as great as they used to be for crib-sleeping, before safety standards were taught), when appropriate precautions are not taken.

A few studies look for a new risk association with infant death in bed-sharing: the finding that possibly half of those dying while bed-sharing were not accustomed to bed-sharing – meaning, among other possibilities, that the parents or adults were not experienced in protecting the baby from hazards, that the bed-sharing was impromptu due to overtired or intoxicated parents, or that the baby may have been experiencing extra fussiness for some health reason and was brought to the parental bed for that reason.

What’s behind the figures?

Why do no studies fully compare safe, conscientious cosleeping with other sleep situations? The results would reveal the safety and benefits of the family bed. The numbers in the largest study on cosleeping around the world suggest that safe cosleeping reduces SIDS greatly. Most nations with SIDS rates much lower than the United States regularly practice cosleeping on firm surfaces with low rates of adult smoking. Countries with increased cosleeping frequency also show decreased rates of SIDS.

It’s become obvious in recent years that pharmaceutical companies wield powerful influence over doctors’ prescribing habits. Parents who like to read and investigate are well aware of the strong ties between formula companies and pediatricians’ advisements.

A few years ago, it became apparent who was behind the curious disinformation campaigns about cosleeping. In May 2002, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a weakly supported announcement purporting the dangers of cosleeping.

Interestingly, the announcement was sponsored by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) – in other words, the crib industry. The crib industry went further by providing “Safe Sleep” brochures to Toys ‘R Us and other venues, creating a video clip for wide media distribution, and granting continued “education” on the topic to doctors.

Frightening families away from safe, natural cosleeping sells more than more cribs. Research shows that cosleeping supports breastfeeding. Crib sleeping makes breastfeeding less convenient and more difficult; therefore, enforcing crib sleeping sells more formula. Keep following the progression: increased formula feeding means increased illnesses for babies, which means increased pharmaceutical sales.

Despite the 2002 CPSC statement about cosleeping “dangers,” the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) continued to support safe cosleeping. But now, with encouragement from SIDS organizations that are backed by pacifier and formula company funding, the AAP seems to have joined the anti-cosleeping bandwagon – and has begun plugging pacifier use, as well.

The facts speak for themselves

Yet the AAP’s latest announcement is not backed by sound scientific data. Review for yourself the summaries of key points from the largest and most recent studies. A large portion of these come from the AAP’s own journal, Pediatrics. They include all the relevant studies referenced in the AAP’s October 2005 journal announcement or more current reports from the same studies or authors."

The Evidence

The article then goes on to cite and summarise articles published in a range of science / medical journals including the BMJ.

Article lnk here

OutsideOverThere Fri 01-Mar-13 11:56:47

Thankyou for posting that Aufaniae. It's really helpful, I feel better already.

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