Where to put your baby down to sleep is a long-time controversy for experts and parents. Some say cribs are the only safe place for a baby to sleep, while others say sleeping next to parents is the best. One child expert is bucking the common advice given by joining the cosleeping bandwagon.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome researcher Doctor James McKenna is going against the advice most commonly given by doctors by telling parents to keep their children close to them at night by cosleeping. According to McKenna, children reap long-term benefits from sleeping with their parents for the first 12 months of life.
According to Dr. McKenna, parents who use safety precautions can sleep safely next to their children and help reduce their risks of SIDS. SIDS is a common fatal event that kills thousands of infants each year. Doctors are still not entirely sure what causes SIDS, though there are many theories. There are many preventative measures that parents can take to reduce the risk of SIDS, such as placing the baby on his back to sleep and making sure the baby is not too warm at night.
Many cosleeping advocates have said SIDS can also be reduced by cosleeping. They claim that research has shown that when a child sleeps next to his parents his body is better able to regulate itself. Breathing and body temperature changes to match that of his parents, making SIDS less likely. They also say that when cosleeping parents are better able to respond to their children in the event that something happens. Dr. McKenna agrees that cosleeping is a safe choice for new parents.
“Co-sleeping is humankind’s oldest and most successful method of mother and baby sleeping.
“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.”
Not everyone agrees with Dr. McKenna’s advice. Joyce Epstein, director of the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, says that children are more likely to die when sleeping next to their parents. Instead, she says infants should be kept in their own cribs at night to prevent accidental deaths.
The debate on cosleeping is still going on, with experts and research on both sides of the line claiming their work is right. -Summer, staff writer
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