Saturday, June 23, 2007

The fuss about co-sleeping

Co-sleeping has been all over the news (here, here and here) since the Coroner's Office of Ontario released a report calling for a ban on infant bath seats and calling co-sleeping a major cause of infant death.

The big media (see links) have been simply rereading the press release, with out looking at the details. In reality, the report should be considered in two sections. The first deals with infant bath seats. There were 50 accidental infant drownings in Ontario between 1986 and 2004 that involved bath seats. Most cases occurred when a parent momentarily turned away. We used a bath seat once or twice for Curious Boy, but he hated it so we stopped. In reality, what is important is for parents remember that kids can drown in any ANY AMOUNT OF WATER. Never turn away. Not for a second. Ever.

The second part of the report deals with co-sleeping. We are avid co-sleepers in this house. Before Curious Boy was born, I was dead set against the idea of having a kid in my bed. After three weeks of zero sleep, I caved. I love it. When Zen Girl came, we just assumed that she would share our bed. Co-sleeping is a wonderful bonding time, and certainly makes nighttime nursing much easier.

The coroner's report suggests that infant sleeping be restricted to "approved" sleeping areas, namely cribs. This is where one begins to wonder if the coroner ever had kids. Children should not be allowed to sleep in playpens, swings, car seats or vibrating chairs. Come on. This means that parents can never actually leave the house. It's absurd.

According to lactation consultant extraordinaire Carole Dobrich, co-sleeping parents must take a few precautions:

  • Baby should sleep in Mom's arms
  • Dad should have his own blankets
  • Minimize pillows and blankets in the bed
  • Sleep on a firm mattress (especially not a waterbed)
In almost every case where a child died while co-sleeping one of these things was involved:
  • Drinking alcohol to excess
  • Sleeping pills or other medication that makes parents drowsy
  • Smoking in bed
  • Obesity in the parents
  • Sleeping on a sofa or armchair
If any of those things apply to you, DO NOT sleep in be with your child.

Whenever someone is critical of co-sleeping, I always ask them to consider other newborn mammals. It would be considered cruel to have a puppy sleep away from its mother. Why then is it not cruel to keep a human infant away?

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hey! Too lazy to find my password. This news really irked me too. I mean most people around the world for thousands of years have co-slept. Like you mention, in most of those cases the parent was obese or on drugs. And I think I read somewhere that it can help prevent sids because the parent is more aware of their childs breathing and can notice if something is wrong sooner?
The first time I didn't want to co sleep(we bought a crib and bassinet) but this time around we bought a king size bed and had him in bed since day one.