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Babies Need to Sleep in Their Own Cribs!

Child-rearing experts and pediatricians have been saying for years that it is not a good idea to have babies and toddlers ever sleep in a bed with their parents for both physical safety, and emotional reasons. However, a recent survey reveals that there are many parents who are still failing to get this message.

A new study has found that nearly 1 in 5 infants are still sleeping in their parent’s beds.

To decrease the risk of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents share their room with their baby until at least 6 months, and ideally to 1 year. However, with that advice they mean – in the room, in a separate crib – and not in the bed with parents. The AAP advises against bed-sharing, but new parents may be getting mixed-messages on bed-sharing from their pediatricians, the study suggested.

About 59% of new moms said they intended to share rooms without bed-sharing. But only 45% of those who said they planned to only room-share had done so in the past two weeks.

“We found a lot of mothers are bed-sharing despite AAP recommendations to room-share without bed-sharing,” said study lead author Dr. Ann Kellams, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia.

Kellams said there are several reasons parents might still choose to bring a baby to their bed. “There is a subset of people that really feel like bed-sharing is necessary for breastfeeding and, culturally, infants routinely sharing the bed is sometimes the social norm,” she said. And, she noted there are some families that just don’t have a separate safe place for the baby to sleep.

Why is it so important to keep baby out of your bed? “We worry about accidental suffocation. In our Western society, we love soft pillow-top mattresses and cozy thick comforters and pillows. Those things pose a risk of smothering and strangulation. People think they’ll wake up, but when babies suffocate, it’s usually a very quiet, silent event,” Kellams explained.

Dr. Jillian Parekh, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore said that bed-sharing is one of the biggest risk factors for SUID. She was not involved with the study.

“Adults rolling over or something covering the baby’s mouth can suffocate, but even just sleeping next to other people leads to lower oxygen levels that put babies at a higher risk,” Parekh said.

The study included nearly 3,300 new mothers from 32 U.S. hospitals. They completed a survey when their infants were between 2 and 6 months old — most were between 8 and 11 weeks old. The moms answered questions about infant sleep locations during the past two weeks and intended sleep locations for the next two weeks. Two-thirds of moms reported room-sharing at least part of the time. Fifty-one percent of mothers said they exclusively room-shared with their infants. Another 11% said their babies exclusively slept in another room.

Kellams said she hoped the study highlighted the possible differences between what parents plan on doing and what they actually do. “Pediatricians need to be skilled at these conversations to find out what the barriers might be for safe sleep. Ideally, you want these conversations to happen before parents have the exhaustion and stress of having a new baby,” she said.

“We spend so much time preparing mothers for birth, and that lasts just a few minutes to a couple of days. But we hardly spend any time preparing people to be parents,” Kellams said.

About Cynthia Lechan-Goodman

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