It is the habit that thousands of sleep-deprived parents fall into: co-sleeping with your baby after feeding or to get them settled.
But yesterday Coroner John Olle issued a blunt warning to parents – sleeping with your baby leads to fatal consequences, with evidence that up to half of babies who are found accidentally dead, are found asleep in bed beside their parents.
In an unprecedented and blunt warning to parents, Coroner John Olle yesterday said sleeping with babies was a potential death trap – yet parents every day put their child’s life at risk through lack of awareness.
From 2008 to 2010, suffocation from sleeping with an adult was the cause of more than half of all sudden infant deaths in NSW.
In the Victorian Coroner’s Court, Mr Olle investigated four cases of babies who died of SIDS – each of them having shared a bed with a parent just before or at the time of their death.
“I am satisfied sharing a sleep surface with an infant is an inherently dangerous activity,” Mr Olle said.
“Caregiver/infant sharing of … beds, sofas, mattresses and armchairs, increases the risk of infant death from a fatal sleep accident and may increase the risk of infant death from SIDS.”
Mr Olle said many parents were unaware of the risks, or received inaccurate information on how babies should sleep….
Sids and Kids general manager Ros Richardson begged parents to heed Mr Olle’s advice: “We know from the statistics how incredibly dangerous it is to sleep with your baby. Babies are brought into bed for breastfeeding and for settling but they must go back to their own bed, next to the parents’ bed.”She said sleep-deprived parents as well as those suffering post-natal depression were often the ones who fell into the trap of dozing off with their newborn.
Author and Mamamia Contributor, Kate Hunter has previously written about co-sleeping. Here is her take:
“About the time the word ‘parent’ became a verb and we started worrying about our style of ‘parenting’, the term ‘co-sleeping’ also entered the language. It refers to what was once known as, ‘being kicked in the lower back all night.’ Not that I would actually know – our kids have never shared our bed. Not even when they were teeny-tiny babies.
“Some may take exception to this, but raising a Labrador puppy prepared me well for the first years of parenthood. I knew from noisy, messy experience that once you let a puppy (baby) leave its box (cot) and snuggle into your bed (bed) he would be there for the duration. So, from day one our babies slept in their own cots in their own rooms (by that I mean not ours – baby and toddler shared).
I schlepped down the hallway to feed and change and rock and pat a bazillion million times. Maybe I’d have got more sleep if I’d kept them closer, who knows? Co-sleeping is divisive. Some people (like me) will do anything to avoid it, while others couldn’t live (or sleep) any other way.”
How do you feel about this warning? Did you, do you or would you co-sleep with your baby? Does this advice change your thinking?