I conducted an informal Facebook poll to test directly the proposition that
some parents are going to choose co-sleeping, despite the widely publicized
recommendations of experts that infants sleep alone to prevent SIDS. Some
of these parents may be unaware of the risk, or may not understand the
message. I surmised that parents engaging in parenting-related Facebook
discussions are likely to be aware of the message and to understand it.
I asked: When you child was an infant (up to 8 months old), did you bring
the baby to your bed?
Often Never Routinely Occasionally
The single question poll was posted on Facebook for the month of February.
Almost immediately, an anonymous reader added a response option, “every night”,
which received by far the most votes. Here’s the tally.
37 every night
1 if he woke up we brought him in
Talk about safe bed-sharing
Non-scientific as it is, the result makes it clear; we need to talk about how to
make co-sleeping as safe as possible. Simple advice that Baby must always sleep
alone in his/her own crib is not going to fly. But this is the proper advice when
parents habitually use alcohol or drugs, or are taking prescription medications
that suppress arousal.
“Baby Back to Sleep” still the most important message
Parents have enough anxiety. It is important to emphasize the risk period for
SIDS peaks at 2-4 months. SIDs is rare before age 1 month and after age 6
months. A safe solution during the early months seems to be temporary bed-sharing,
where the baby shares the parents’ bed for feeding and cuddling and then is
returned to a crib within sight. Use of a pacifier at sleep time (not other times)
reduces risk of SIDS. So does a firm mattress, tightly fitted bedding and removal
of all things fluffy and soft. In all cases and places, Baby sleeps face-up.
Here’s a summary of references and resource from our review of evidence on SIDS: