“When it comes to parenting, everyone seems to have an opinion, and rightfully so, especially if you are yourself a parent. But what about controversial topics? Is there a right or wrong way to raise your children? Are there certain things that you should or should not be doing? Of course, some things are more important than others. But new advice given by a paediatrician suggests children should sleep in bed with their mothers until they reach the age of three.”
According to a recent article in Daily Mail, Dr. Nils Bergman, of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, says that “Their hearts were also under more stress… Sleeping alone makes it harder for mother and child to bond – and damages the development of the brain, leading to bad behaviour as the child grows up…”
While there have also been a host of studies claiming that co-sleeping results in more sudden infant deaths, there’s an ample body of new research that suggests that there are other factors in these sudden infant deaths when co-sleeping and that babies should NOT sleep alone.
According to Dr. James McKenna Ph.D of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at University of Notre Dame, and author of Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping, the countries with the highest number of Moms co-sleeping with their infant is correlated with the lowest infant mortality rates and it’s vital to acknowledge these other factors when issuing recommendations to the public regarding whether to co-sleep in the same bed with your child, sleep with them in the same room but in separate beds, or have them sleep in a separate room entirely.
Dr. Berman supports this concern in an article in The Independent and details some of those other factors: “When babies are smothered and suffer cot deaths, it is not because their mother is present. It is because of other things: toxic fumes, cigarettes, alcohol, big pillows and dangerous toys.”
He also stresses that,“Animal studies have linked the combination of stress and lack of sleep to behavioural problems in teenage years… and changes to the brain brought on by stress hormones may make it more difficult to form relationships later on, leading to problems such as promiscuity.”
Whatever your decision about co-sleeping with your little one, we recommend reading Dr. McKenna’s article referenced here, in the sources below, and in the text above, as it provides a clear explanation of the controversy surrounding co-sleeping and can help you make the best decision according to your lifestyle, housing and financial situation as well as understand the evolutionary significance of co-sleeping.
Thanks for reading our article and we hope you will comment on our Facebook page and share your own experiences and opinions on this important health issue.
McKenna, J., Ball H., Gettler L., Mother-infant Cosleeping, Breastfeeding and SIDS: What Biological Anthropologists Have Learned About Normal Infant Sleep and Pediatric Sleep Medicine. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 50:133-161 (2007)
McKenna, J., McDade, T., Why Babies Should Never Sleep Alone: A Review of the Co-Sleeping Controversy in Relation to SIDS, Bedsharing and Breastfeeding (pdf). Paediatric Respiratory Reviews 6:134-152 (2005)
The Independent: Parents And Babies Should Sleep In The Same Bed, Says Doctor
Moore ER1, Bergman N, Anderson GC, Medley N., Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants., Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Nov 25;11:CD003519.
Moore ER1, Anderson GC, Bergman N, Dowswell T., Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 May 16;(5):CD003519. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003519.pub3.
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