There is great controversy regarding the best place for your new baby to sleep. I have examined a wealth of research and literature published on the subject and my opinion is that, in general, the safest place the baby can sleep (for the first six months) is in a cot in the parent’s room. My opinion is shared by The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) who launched a nationwide campaign to try and get this message home. They have recently launched an attack on the Channel Four programme, “Bringing up the Baby” because someone on the show advised that the baby should have his own room from day one.
Research has proved that infants who sleep in their own room in the first six months are twice as likely to die from SIDS (formerly called cot death) than those who share their parents’ bedroom. (FSID’s Editorial Team, 2007). I strongly advise you therefore to have baby sleeping in your room for the first six months.
However, the choice of whether you want to share a bed with your baby or put him in a cot next to the bed is ultimately for you to decide on your own. The reason I stated that a cot in the parents’ room is generally the safest place to put baby to sleep is because there are certain medically-agreed, risk factors that can make co-sleeping much more dangerous than cot sleeping. Experts agree that you should never share a bed with your baby if:
• The baby is under three months old
• The baby was premature or less than 2.5kg
• You or your partner are smokers (even if you don’t smoke at home)
• You have been drinking alcohol or have taken medications that make you drowsy.
• You are very tired.
If the above rules are followed I have not found conclusive evidence to recommend cot-sleeping over sharing a bed or vice-versa. The fact that the research is contradictory tells us that there is no hard and fast, right or wrong answer and the unfortunate truth is that tragic accidents can happen in any scenario. Fortunately, these accidents are very rare.
To help you make an informed decision, I will discuss the pros and cons of co-sleeping in my next post.