Making informed choices on co-sleeping with your babyBMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h563 (Published 02 February 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h563
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I was pleased to see BMJ publish this commentary on the new NICE SIDS/cosleeping guidance which I read online -- but was less happy to see the print version which is illustrated with a particularly hazardous example of parent-baby cosleeping.
During my research career I have made and analysed hundreds of night-time videos of cosleeping parents and babies. Readers of the print journal should note that the illustration of a baby sleeping face down on a pillow next to his/her mother is not a typical or safe scenario -- and is not what the authors are describing when they suggest that cosleeping by breastfeeding mothers carries minimal risk. A typical depiction of 'safe' cosleeping involves a baby on his/her back flat on a mattress, well away from any pillows, with the mother curled-up facing the baby, one arm above the baby's head, and knees tucked up below the baby's feet.
The juxtaposition of a photo of a co-sleeping baby face down on a pillow with the heading 'Making informed choices on co-sleeping with your baby' might lead readers to assume this depicts an informed co-sleeping choice. It does not. Interested readers can find more information at the Infant Sleep Info Source website (www.isisonline.org.uk) and in the publications cited therein.
Competing interests: I founded and direct the Durham University Parent-Infant Sleep Lab which studies (among other things) how and why parents implement co-sleeping. I am also co-founder of the Infant Sleep Info Source (www.isisonline.org.uk) which disseminates research evidence on infant sleep.
Dr Pace wrongly equates " sleeping with" and co-sleeping. So do the others.
Co-sleeping, in my eyes, means co-sleeping, co-awakening. You wake up, the baby wakes up. You drop off, the baby drops off. The rhythmic life of the two is entwined.
Informed choices? Emotional choices are better. Just because you have a collection of figures (grandly termed data), which are often analysed in " meta-analyses", does not mean you are wiser.
Go by your gut feeling, Man (er including Lady).
Competing interests: Passion for brevity and for English English
Excellent, very useful paper. There is only one point I feel it did not make clear. How is co-sleeping with your baby different from merely sleeping with your baby? Is the ugly neologism needed?
Competing interests: No competing interests
Thank you to Peter Fleming for this clear article.
I think it can be summarised even further, to form a useful public health message:
As long as you don't smoke, drink, or take recreational drugs, and you do it in the bed and not on the sofa, the risks of co-sleeping are so small that meta-analyses can't reliably detect them - they may be non-existent. The benefits of co-sleeping (bonding, easier breast-feeding...) do not appear to have been assessed but are likely to outweigh the minimal or non-existent risks of co-sleeping.
Competing interests: I am about to become a grandparent; and the parents intend to practice "co-sleeping" with the baby.