My cautious answer was: “Yes, we chose to co-sleep with our children, but that may not be right for everyone.” The fact is, my wife and I deliberated on this topic for a long time and finally came to the decision based on what we felt best for our family. Thankfully we are not alone and most often the answers are out there.
With decisions of this magnitude, it’s a good idea to take a world-view of the problem. Currently, Japan leads the way with the lowest overall infant mortality rates. They also have the lowest rate of SIDS. Coincidentally, they also have a cultural belief in cosleeping and shared living arrangements. This doesn’t mean it’s a direct causation, but it’s a very important connection.
Next we took a basic Pro and Con approach:
Cons - range from serious dangers such as asphyxiation, over-lay, and thermoregulation issues to simple inconveniences like lack of sleep.
Pros - family bonding benefits, health benefits including improved immune status and digestive function (from regular nursing patterns), improved neurologically based infant responses (reaction to smells of mother, movement and touch reactions), decreased stress response (decreased cortisol levels), increased oxygenation, and reduced chances of SIDS (by up to half according to recent research).
As you can see, our ‘pros’ list quickly out-weighed our ‘cons’ especially when we factored in some of the causes for serious dangers that have links to drug and alcohol use. With that being said, if you are leaning towards co-sleeping, remember to do your own due diligence. Assess parents depth of sleep - delta versus deep REM sleepers - and determine how quick to wake you are. Reduce excess bedding, place the mattress on the floor and be sure there are no crevices for your child to fall into. Also, no soft mattresses and definitely no old-style waterbeds.
Above all else - be smart, use your own intuition and use your best judgement.
From my family to yours - be well.
Dr. Chris Pieda DC
BackToHealthAlameda.com or call 510-523-5000.