Bed-sharing puts infants at risk, say experts.



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Posted on May 29, 2012 at 6:00 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

When Lisa West welcomed her new baby Dayton home she didn't want her newborn in a crib.

"We brought Dayton home and I bed-shared with him, just exactly as I had done with my daughter," she explained.

She said her pediatrician had talked with her about the practice. 

"I was just told all the benefits of bed sharing, that it promotes longer breastfeeding times, that it promotes bonding. You know, it's easier. The baby's just right next to you," West said.

It's a parenting style that recently caused a stir, when Time magazine featured a mom breastfeeding her three year old. Called Attachment Parenting, it advocates co-sleeping, to promote bonding.  For Dayton his mom's practice of bed-sharing took a tragic turn.

"I woke up on a Sunday morning, and my shoulder was pressed against his face. He wasn't breathing. I gave him CPR, and they took him to the hospital," West recalled.

"As those two things have come together, the rise of Attachment Parenting and co-sleeping, and our knowledge about how to best protect babies, I think we're talking about it more," said Seattle Children's Pediatrician Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson.

Dr. Swanson said when parents switched in the 1990s to putting babies to sleep on their backs, the rate of SIDS dropped by half. She said now new research has emerged that parents should know.

"Seventy percent of babies who passed away from sudden unexplained, or sudden infant death syndrome were with another person or animal, meaning they were bed-sharing with an animal or a parent most likely," she said.

Dr. Swanson said while the American Academy of Pediatrics recently put out guidelines recommending infants share a room with parents, those guidelines also said infants should sleep in a separate bed from parents. There are other safeguards in the recommendations. They include immunizing your baby, and making sure a baby isn't overheated while sleeping.

"We don't want blankets, stuffed animals, sleep positioners or bumpers. Anything like that should be out of the crib. You want a bare boring crib, and you want your baby to sleep alone," Dr. Swanson said.

Lisa West will continue her campaign, to prevent what happened to Dayton from happening again."

"He died because of bed-sharing," West said.