FORGET THE COT, SLEEP WITH BABY
(Monday Telegraph 14th March 2011) By: Letitia Rowlands (Family Reporter)
Newborn babies what share a bed with their parents are safer than those in cots, says a leading baby sleep expert.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome researcher Doctor James McKenna said that as long as co-sleeping is carried out in a responsible manner – not on a waterbed or coach and not by parents affected by drugs of alcohol – then babies up to 12 months old will reap the long-term benefits.
If parents are not able to sleep in the same bed as they baby then they should at least be in the same room, Dr. McKenna said. Co-sleeping is human-kind’s oldest and most successful method of mother and baby sleeping, he said.
The push in the western world to get babies to sleep through the night on their own as young as possible is doing more harm than good.
Whether it’s in the same bed or on a separate sleeping surface in the same room, no baby should ever sleep outside the direct supervision of an adult.
Dr. McKenna, from the University of Notre Dame, is set to arrive in Sydney today to give a series of lectures for the Australian Breastfeeding Association on Wednesday. He has spent 30 years researching baby sleep, pioneering the first physiological study into mother-infant co-sleeping in relation to breast-feeding and SIDS risk factors and is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on the topic.
Co-sleeping also encourages mothers and babies to breastfeed for as long as possible which in itself provides protection from a range of illnesses, he said.
The question is not whether babies as young as three or four months can sleep through the night, but whether they should be forced to, he said.
They need to feed frequently to supply nutrients to the brain trying to grow and expand at a speed never again to be matched through the infant’s life.
Dr. McKenna said in reality more parents co-sleep with their babies than admit to it. People say they don’t co-sleep with their babies, he said.
But when you speak to them about what actually happens many parents, particularly breastfeeding mothers, share their bed with their babies for some part of each night.
He said that trying to get your baby to sleep through the night at a young age can actually cause more stress for a family than waking to a baby does.