Frank A. Clark once said, “A baby is born with a need to be loved and never outgrows it.”
Having a child is perhaps the most beautiful moment in a woman’s life. It’s almost as Cael Sandburg says “God’s opinion that life should go on.” But with the euphoria of giving birth to a new life comes in the responsibility of taking complete care of the baby until they can take care of oneself.
A crucial question that all the parents have to decide upon is whether they should share the beds with their babies or not. It’s quite a controversial topic since some encourage it while many discourage it too. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the US consumer product safety commission strongly advocate against bed sharing with an infant and is defined as sleeping on the same surface like a chair, sofa, etc. where the infant is also sleeping.
In the year 2013, a research conducted by National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA the percentage of newborns who share a bed with a parent, caregiver or a child has been doubled between 1993 to 2010 from 6.5% to 13.5 %. Medical News today reported from a study conducted by AAP, stating that bed sharing is the primary cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) which is, in fact, the leading cause of death among infants aged between1 to 12 months.
Dr. Michael Goodstein, clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Pennsylvania State University and a member of the AAP Task force for SIDS, told MNT that “Bed sharing may increase the risk of overheating, rebreathing or airway hindrance, head covering and exposure to even tobacco smoke. He further added that “bed sharing in an adult bed, which has not been designed for the newly born subjects the baby to additional risks like accidental injury and death such as suffocation, asphyxia, etc. “.
The infants who are in their first three months and especially those that are born prematurely or with low birth weight are at an exceptional risk probably because of immature motor skills and muscles strength making it difficult to escape potential dangers. In 2012 UK newspaper, The Daily Mail reported about the death of 3-week old twin babies in Idaho, who died because of accidental suffocation by their very own mother while they were fast asleep.
Bed sharing becomes particularly risky when the parent is exhausted, has been smoking or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The primary reason why most mothers choose to share a bed with their babies is to promote prolonged breastfeeding as it can be quite exhausting to handle a baby. Hence, many parents see bed sharing as a viable option as the mother can sleep while the baby obtains nourishment. The most beautiful benefit of bed sharing is that the baby is much happier and hence doesn’t have to cry to get the mother’s attention.
When the baby sleeps with the mother, she automatically creates a concave arc and prevents anyone else from cruising into the baby’s space and approving the sleep-wake cycles of the mother as well as the baby. It reduces to have low-stress levels as well as low-level arousal through the night. Bed sharing also increases the bond between the mother and the newborn. The physical closeness that the babies obtain day and night helps to establish a certain kind of emotional connection between the mother and the child, which is quite essential to meet a baby’s constant need for warmth, comfort, and security.
What makes this topic further intriguing is that many health care professionals even believe that the benefits of bed sharing supersede the potential threats. On a psychological level, many parents think that if they allow their children to sleep with them, then they will become more and more dependent on others as they grow up.
There is, in fact, no golden rule when it comes to deciding whether one should share a bed with the infant or not and it solely depends on parents. Many organizations do not support bed sharing, but they believe in room sharing, which is sleeping in the same room as that of the infant but not on the same bed.
The baby-friendly initiative from UNICEF guides on safer bed sharing by educating about the position of a pillow, and the presence of soft objects around the baby should account for particular attention since it could increase the risk of SIDS strangulation, etc. Other arrangements like attaching the cradle to one side of the bed next to the mother would make breastfeeding the baby easier also in addition to being useful.
Co-sleeping with a baby is found to be quite suitable for families with lesser space at home and helps the parents to monitor the baby well during illness. Having a child is a life-changing moment. Hence, the decision, whether a parent should share the bed or not differs from person to person; and should be left as it is.