Robert Carpenter, professor at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, along with other researchers, reviewed data on five previous studies related to SIDS. The researchers “separated out each factor linked with increased SIDS risk” including whether the mothers smoked or drank, bottle fed, or laid the child on his back while sleeping. Even when parents did not engage in any of the risk factors listed above, children three months and younger were five times more likely to die of SIDS if they co-slept. Those over three months were at three times increased risk of SIDS. “It’s become really uncommon to encounter a baby who died of SIDS who wasn’t bed sharing.” For more information on the study visit LiveScience.com
While there are very real risks involved with bed sharing, there are also benefits. Attachmentparenting.org list several long term benefits including: increased life satisfaction in children, higher confidence and self-esteem. Children who co-sleep experience less anxiety and guilt and are less likely to have tantrums.
Babycentreuk.com shares some tips for increased safety for those who decide to co-sleep. Use a firm mattress and make sure there are no gaps for the baby to fall into (between mattress and wall or mattress and nightstand for instance). Use covers sparingly and do not share covers. Also, sleep below the baby’s level to prevent accidentally covering his face. Never let your baby and toddler sleep next to one another. Never co-sleep on the couch. Never let your baby sleep alone in your bed.