SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) also known as crib death, is one of the biggest fears that haunts all parents and families. Sleep deprivation is often considered the hardest part of parenting in the early years. Some parents choose to sleep with their babies; some just fall asleep with baby by accident.
A team of researchers from The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine lead by Dr. Robert Carpenter recently published the results of a study, May 2013, which included Co-sleeping as an increased risk factor of SIDS.
The study states, babies under 3 months old who sleep with a parent are 5 times more likely to die of SIDS than babies who slept separately but in the same room as a parent, even when other recommendations are followed to decrease the risk. Babies older than 3 months were 3 times more likely.
The increased risk of SIDS linked with bed-sharing rose even more sharply if the mother or her partner smoked, or if the mother had more than two alcoholic drinks in the previous 24 hours.
In the United States, approximately 1,200 babies die yearly from SIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
- Placing babies on their back, on a firm mattress to sleep, and not using pillows or bumper pads in cribs.
- Staying current on all recommended immunizations.
- Making sure a baby does not get too warm while sleeping.
- Not smoking, drinking alcohol, or use drugs while pregnant, and avoiding exposing baby to secondhand smoke.
- Breastfeeding, if possible.
- Putting a baby to sleep with a pacifier after breastfeeding is well established – about 3 – 4 weeks of age (But if a baby rejects the pacifier, don’t force it.)
- Putting babies to sleep in the same room, but not the same bed, as parents.