a recent ad campaign was launched in milwaukee to discourage parents from co sleeping with their babies. this is a hot topic, especially in our american culture and largely misunderstood. this ad campaign exemplifies how misunderstood the ancient practice of bed sharing is. actor mayim bialik, who is most known as blossom and now appears regularly on the big bang theory wrote a beautiful article outlining why her and her husband share their bed with their children. the cool thing about mayim, is that she is more than an actor, she has a phd in neuroscience, and has a forthcoming book about attachment parenting.
mayim's article touches on all of the important points of bed sharing, why it's natural and why humans have been doing it since the beginning of time. what blows me away about this ad campaign is that the photos break all of the guidelines of safe co sleeping.
yes, unfortunately, some babies have died from co sleeping. this is a sad event, and no one wants this to happen. however with deeper investigation into these scenarios, usually one of the parents is obese, or intoxicated, or the baby and parent are on the couch or some other unsafe surface.
i have shared my bed with my baby since birth. we have a very firm mattress. when she was a newborn, i would dress her in warm clothing, usually swaddled and place her a little higher than my body, so the covers would not go over her. i would keep the covers around my torso and dress warm on top. we had firm pillows on the edges of the bed. as she grew and became stronger, i was less worried about covers, and now her and i share covers, although i am very careful and aware of her body while sleeping. once she started rolling and scooting, we took the bed off of the frame and placed the mattress on the floor.
the best thing about bed sharing with your baby is that when you breastfeed, you don't have to get out of bed or go anywhere. you simply roll to one side and nurse your baby back to sleep. when my little one was first born, there were lots of frequent night wakings and diaper changes, so the routine was a bit more involved. by the time she was a few months old, she woke less, and had less elimination. the best part about sharing your bed with your baby is that you always know how your baby is doing.
in the beginning of my baby's life, nothing assured me more than laying next to her and watching her breath at night. it's a totally natural fear to be concerned about your baby's breath as a new mother. if i had her in a crib, the thought of getting in and out of bed every time i wanted to check on her, would have made me mad! i was already tired from the frequent night wakings, and i would have been absolutely exhausted from constantly checking on her.
there is a ton of research on SIDS and you can find research arguing for and against co sleeping. however, an important point to note, is that SIDS is often related to chemicals and fire retardants and lack of air circulation in the room. most cribs are covered in toxic materials and the mattress itself is sprayed with fire retardants. even organic mattresses are sprayed, so one must really do research to find completely chemical free bedding. many parents with the greatest intentions are bathing, diapering, clothing, swaddling and bedding their babe's with chemicals. these chemicals are deadly.
so when it comes to your babies health there is so much to consider. the important thing is to go within and trust your heart. forget about fear mongering ad campaigns and what society tells you what you should do. each parent is the only one who truly knows how to provide for their baby. and if you do feel inclined, sleep with your baby, and enjoy it!
for more information on safe co-sleeping, visit dr sears guidelines.