For some new parents, there's nothing like the feeling of having their baby snuggled next to them in bed to heighten the feeling of closeness. Sharing a bed can also make breastfeeding more convenient. Whatever the reasons, bed sharing (also called co-sleeping) is on the rise. A study reported in JAMA Pediatrics found the percentage of infants sharing their parents' beds more than doubled between 1993 and 2010.
While no one wants to discourage a little snuggling between parents and their baby, bed sharing is a risky practice, says Eve Colson, MD. She's the study's author and a professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine. "There's no way to keep the sleep environment safe in an adult bed," she says.
Sharing the bed with your baby multiplies the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) fivefold, according to a 2013 study. The American Academy of Pediatrics cites the dangers of SIDS and suffocation, and recommends that parents keep their baby out of their bed, especially during the first 3 months of life.
Colson encourages room sharing. To lower SIDS risk, follow two rules when you do put your baby down in his crib or bassinet. "The most important thing is that the baby is always put to sleep on his back, and that there isn't anything around the baby like pillows, heavy blankets, or bumpers."
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