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Common Sense and Cosleeping

Cosleeping is not the devil.  Is it dangerous?  Yes.  But so is sleeping in a crib.  Do we still use them?  Of course.  The key is common sense.  Something we sorely lack in this world.

There are safety measures you have to take no matter where your baby sleeps.  To put your baby in a crib you have rules. Common sense rules like no heavy blankets, pillows, toys, bumpers, gaps in the mattress, bars of a certain width, etc.

Cosleeping has safety rules too: do not drink or smoke before bed, sleep on a firm mattress or futon, no heavy blankets or pillows, don’t sleep with the baby if you have sleep apnea or if your bed is too small, put your mattress on the floor, etc.

It isn’t “cosleeping” that causes death, its the unthinking parent that goes to bed tipsy and rolls over onto the baby, or the parent that hasn’t bothered to take a good look at their fluffy bedding.  Or the parent that doesn’t cosleep at all- their baby is in a crib thank you very much but one night they are so exhausted and at their wits end and bring baby into their bed, only to have tragedy strike because they aren’t used to baby being there.

So why all the attention?  Money, I’m sure.  The studies you see being thrown around in the news are skewed. No! Surely not.  That never happens, right?  These campaigns aren’t about the safety of our babies.  These campaigns are about you buying cribs.  According to the Ask Dr. Sears website:

“Who is behind this new national campaign to warn parents not to sleep with their babies?  In addition to the USCPSC, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) is co-sponsoring this campaign.  The JPMA?  An association of crib manufacturers.  This is a huge conflict of interest.  Actually, this campaign is exactly in the interest of the JPMA.”

Wow.  So the people telling us we have to buy cribs are the people that sell the cribs.   I have four children and I’ve NEVER bought or used a crib.  (Except for Cooper, who spends part of the night in his p&p but that is a different story.)  I know lots of people that are the same.  This isn’t about “raising awareness” or “getting us talking about it” or the health and safety of our children.  It is about getting you to buy a crib.

Here are some real statistics according the The Baby Bond’s Fact sheet:

Number of U.S. births year 2000: 4,058,814

Total infant deaths year 2000: 28,411
Age birth to 1 year. (6.9 per thousand)

Number SIDS deaths year 2000: 2,523
Defined as death with unexplained cause, birth to 1 year.

Total suffocation deaths year 2000: 1,000

Number of crib-related “accidents”/yr: 50

Number of playpen-related deaths/yr: 16

Number deaths/yr attributed to overlying: 19 Most are only “suspected.”

Number of babies (0-2) dying in night fires/yr: 230 Many of which may have been retrievable if next to parent, not in another room of home. This is true for abductions and other night dangers as well.

Number of deaths/yr in adult beds reported as entrapment/suffocation between bed and wall, headboard, or other furniture, on waterbed, in headboard railings, or tangled in bedding: 18 With side-rail: 1 That’s 19 of the 60.

Number of deaths/yr reported as suffocation of unknown cause in adult bed: 13

These would be SIDS if in a crib. Remember, these do not necessarily involve cosleeping.

Number of deaths/yr in adult beds from prone sleeping: 5

Again, these are considered SIDS in cribs, and they are preventable in adult beds, as in cribs.

4/yr died not from falling out of adult bed, but from suffocating (pile of clothes, plastic bag) or other danger (such as drowning) after falling out.

13% of U.S. infants are routinely cosleeping with nearly 50% sharing bed for part
of the nights.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 2000 Survey.

“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.”

So is cosleeping dangerous? Yes, if done without care or thought.  So think.  Use the mind that the creator (whoever she/he is) gave you and think about what you are doing with your babies.  Don’t blindly follow trends or advice from ads plastered on bus shelters.  Do research and make informed decisions with a big dollop of common sense tailored to your own little family’s needs.





22 Responses to Common Sense and Cosleeping

  1. THANK YOU!!! I bedshare with my child, he’s 6 1/2 weeks old. How does he remain safe?

    I only use a memory foam pillow that he goes no where near(my arm blocks him), I have a large mesh bedrail attached to my side of the bed to keep him from rolling off, and there is a “close and secure” bedshare cosleep portable infant bed between hubs and me, so he doesn’t roll into the dips made by us in the bed center.

    Common sense….it is not that hard to figure out what is and is not dangerous….

    This ad campaign pisses me off. Most tired new mothers will see this and panic, and breastfeed(and fall asleep) laying down on the couch, which is 10X more dangerous…

  2. I think you might be missing a couple of things here:

    1. Some might say so-called co-sleeping deaths are lower than crib deaths because of the high use rate of cribs, meaning that there would be more co-sleeping deaths if more people still co-slept. I realize that’s utter crap, but it’s an argument they would use.

    2. I have heard the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is so high because we report the deaths of extremely premature babies whereas other countries do not. If true, that would skew the ratings significantly.

    For the record, neither of my babies has ever slept in a crib.

    • I think you could come back to the high rate of crib use stat with the one about how 50% of people are cosleeping at least part of the night. That seems like a pretty even comparison…

  3. Thanks for actually posting the statistics! My son has a crib…. which he plays in during the day. For sleeping, he’s with me and I am very careful about it. More than a little biased that crib makers are pushing this, UGH

  4. I remember talking with some people (maybe in a doula training) about how parents who chose to and stuck with crib sleeping and parents who chose to and stuck with cosleeping got more sleep than parents who chose crib sleeping but brought baby into bed with them in an unplanned way. Then we talked about the percentage of parents who started with their baby in a crib but brought the baby into the bed unplanned. It made more sense to me to plan to safely cosleep than put baby in a crib and possibly unsafely bring her into the bed later.
    I definitely feel I got a lot more sleep cosleeping than I would have if I had to get out of bed, pick baby up out of the crib (even if the crib were in my bedroom), sit back down to nurse her, get her back in the crib, then get myself to fall back asleep in bed.
    It’s frustrating that industry has such an influence that we (health departments, mainstream media, etc) can’t talk about the risks and safety precautions of both sleeping places.

  5. Thank you for this post. I feel comfortable in my choices as a new mom, and co sleeping is one of them. I love the assurance of being able to hear my baby breathing and be able to peek over at him in the middle of the night. We have our bed set up safely for him, a little common sense goes a long way! We all sleep better, together! I’m not gonna let some smear campaign make me second guess my choice, my instinct tells me otherwise, but I worry for others who are more easily swayed, and not so confident in their own instincts. I think of all the babies who won’t have the comfort of their Mommies close by, it makes me sad. Co sleeping may not be for everyone, buy educate people about safe co sleeping practices, instead of preying on their fear of harming their little one. A crib can be dangerous as well, if used incorrectly, or if it’s manufactured incorrectly. Drop side cribs, anyone? Educate yourselves so you can make informed decisions that are right for you and YOUR family.

  6. From one homeschooling mama with a blog named Kitchen Witch, to another, thank you so much. I saw this yesterday and totally went off on my Facebook page. A friend of mine saw your blog and sent me the link.

    If these people spent half the time and money on the actual education of people to help their babies as they do trying to make co-sleeping look like it’s evil, or trying to sell cribs, imagine how many babies they could save.

    My problem with this is that they’re using this scare tactic and it’s based on a lie. It’s not saving anyone, not helping anyone who’s grief of a child who’s died is very real, not helping any other babies, but it sure is lining someone’s pocket.

    Newer, more advanced and modern ways aren’t always the best. Where do they think babies slept before cribs were ever invented. Where do the majority of babies sleep in countries where they don’t have cribs and multiple room houses. *sigh* It would be nice, if people didn’t prey on other’s fears and vilify things that don’t conform with the “norm”.

  7. Thank you!! I’m getting ready to have #3, not really, I have 34 weeks to go, but anyhow, I plan on cosleeping with this one like I did with the other 2 I had. I don’t even know how to make a child sleep in a crib, it almost seems cruel to have them isolated.

  8. Thank you for writing this great post! I totally agree. We didn’t buy a crib. Our daughter sleeps with us and we have pack n’ play as well. We wanted to save our money for a nice sustainable, non-toxic bed and mattress. They don’t even sleep in a crib that long. Max 2 years. Waste of money in my opinion! :)

  9. Thank you for a well written, well researched rebuttal to this despicable campaign. I don’t know why natural parenting methods are so demonized in our country, but I’m tired of big businesses trying to sell me things via scare tactics. Kudos to you!!!

  10. All 3 of my children have co-slept with me and my husband, the oldest is now 8 and they all still like to pile in bed with us sometimes!

  11. I loved sleeping with my babies. And since I was so used to it, my mind was always conscious that they were there, so I was an extra-light sleeper when they were babies. I never had a problem. Every time they’d make the faintest sound, I’d wake up. Also, my mom never used a crib with me or my 6 siblings. We all slept with her.

  12. I would give you a big giant hug for this article right now if I could. I LOVE seeing someone using their common sense. I did mostly co-sleeping and some crib sleeping with all of my 4 children. I used a crib some of the time because normally, I had a hard time sleeping if the baby was in the bed. Every time the baby moved, I’d wake up. Using the crib was my way of allowing myself to get a deeper more restful amount of sleep when I needed it and still protecting the baby as best I could. I love seeing you call out the JPMA for funding a study that determines we need to buy more cribs. That’s fantastic.

  13. My girls never had cribs. They sleeped in play pins and they used to sleep with me all the time until it was time for them to sleep in there own bed. Which was easy for them to do. Thanks for sharing.