Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Benefits of Co-sleeping

Why am I talking about co-sleeping on this blog?  I think it is a pretty "primal" way of life...I highly doubt our primal ancestors placed their babies/children in another cave or enter form of shelter here.  LOL

Anyway, the reason I bring up this subject is because today I saw a video on ABC news discussing how SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is linked to low serotonin levels in the baby's brain and ways to prevent SIDS.  I have long known that co-sleeping and breastfeeding (including night-nursing) decrease your chances of SIDS.  However, the conventional doctor in the video says to avoid co-sleeping.  She does say that breastfeeding decreases your chances of SIDS, so I'll give her credit for that one.  Here is a great explanation as to how co-sleeping may help to prevent SIDS.  Also, here is a great co-sleeping and SIDS fact sheet that talks about why co-sleeping gets a bad rap, and how to successfully and safely co-sleep.  My favorite part is where the author states:

"Why does our nation rank only 42nd in infant survival in the industrialized world (some non-reporting nations are thought to rank better than us as well)? Our difference from the best-ranking nations is a high predominance of formula feeding, isolated sleep, and medical intervention. The highest cosleeping/ breastfeeding nations rank with half our overall infant death rate (and negligable SIDS rates).  Remember we rank #1 in medical intervention. "

Let me also highlight how co-sleeping decreases your chances of SIDS according to LLLI and Dr. James McKenna:

(Excerpts from a LLLI press release from September 30, 1999: )

Studies have shown that co-sleeping with a breastfeeding infant promotes bonding, regulates the mother and baby's sleep patterns, plays a role in helping the mother to become more responsive to her baby's cues, and gives both the mother and baby needed rest. The co-sleeping environment also assists mothers in the continuation of breastfeeding on demand, an important step in maintaining mom's milk supply.

Dr. James McKenna, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, a member of LLLI's Health Advisory Council, and an expert on the subject of co-sleeping, believes there to be more danger in leaving an infant alone in a crib than in arranging a safe co-sleeping environment. He states, "We agree... that special precautions need to be taken to minimize catastrophic accidents. However, the need for such precautions is no more an argument against all co-sleeping and, specifically bedsharing, than is the reality of infants accidentally strangling, suffocating, or dying from SIDS alone in cribs, a reason to recommend against all solitary, unsupervised infant sleep." He adds, "While specific structural hazards of an adult bed are important, the fact that they exist means neither that they cannot be eliminated nor that all bedsharing is unsafe."

Dr. McKenna goes on to address concerns over co-sleeping being unhealthy for a child's psychological development:

In part, this view represents a personal and arbitrary judgment that anyone is entitled to make as long as it is not passed on as scientific fact. Such judgments are based on Western values favoring the perception of how individualism and infant autonomy are best promoted and obtained. No study has shown, however, that the goals for separateness and independence (or happiness, for that matter) are obtained in the individual by, among other things, separate sleeping arrangements for parents and children, nor do any studies demonstrate negative consequences for children or parents who choose to cosleep for ideological or emotional purposes, except when cosleeping is part of a larger psychologically disordered set of family relationships or when cosleeping occurs under dangerous social or physical circumstances. The only studies of the psychological or social effects of cosleeping reveal not negative but positive consequences. One study among military families revealed that cosleeping children receive higher evaluations of their comportment from their teachers than do solitary sleeping children and are under-represented among psychiatric populations, when compared with children who do not cosleep [Forbes JF, Weiss DS: The cosleeping habits of military children. Mil Med 1992; 157:196-200]. Lewis and Janda found that college-age students who coslept as children were better adjusted and more satisfied with their sexual identities and behavior than college-age students who did not cosleep [Lewis RJ, Janda H: The relationship between adult sexual adjustment and childhood experience regarding exposure to nudity, sleeping in the parental bed, and parental attitudes towards sexuality. Arch Sex Behav 1988; 17:349-363] . Clearly, we need to change our conceptualization concerning what constitutes a normal or healthy childhood sleep pattern!

(From: Stein MT, et al. Cosleeping (Bedsharing) Among Infants and Toddlers. Pediatrics 2001 Apr; 107(4); 873-877)

And I can attest that co-sleeping has in no way hampered my sex life!!!


  1. All 4 of our kids slept in our bed when they were babies. I loved the convience of it, being able to check on them easily and cuddling with them. I couldn't imagine putting an infant in another room and being that far away from them. If our kids our sick I will have them sleep in bed with us. I still love when they get in our bed in the morning. I never got why some people are so against this. Great blog entry and it's nice to see something positive about cosleeping.

  2. Abolish cribs I say. Love it.
    Thanks for all your info on BLW and food. We always buy organic and shop at a farmers market, but it is nice to have info about the rest of it. I am very interested in places where you get your meat. Can you just get it at TJ's and Whole Foods?

    Write more about pastuerization? WOuld love to know you thoughts on this. Can't wait to meet you one day, you sound so much like me.

  3. Thanks for your comments ladies! I love the support for co-sleeping. I, too, cannot understand why some people are so against it. I love cuddling with my baby and know that one day I will miss it. I use to love climbing into bed with my parents. I don't know anyone who didn't like sleeping with their parents!

    Tracy, you're welcome. The benefits of buying your meat directly from the farm are: the meat is a little cheaper because you are buying it direct instead of paying the grocery store's marked up price. You do have to pay for shipping, however. Also, the farmer benefits because he usually makes more of a profit when you buy directly from him. It is a simple way to directly support the farmer's practices.

    I will post a blog this week on pasteurization. I can't wait to meet you too...we have so much in common. When I read your blog I felt like I was reading my diary:)