New information about bed-sharing and infants (Article)

SIDS is the leading cause of infant mortality  in the US during the postneonatal period  (28 days through the first birthday). To prevent it, pediatricians advise parents to place babies on their backs to sleep and to avoid sharing the same bed with their babies. Many parents want to bring their infants to bed with them.  Bed sharing seems so convenient for breastfeeding and cuddling.

In an article just published in the British Medical Journal, researchers analyzed a large amount of information from five separate studies.  The authors concluded that if a mother sleeps in the same bed with her infant, the risk of SIDS increases five fold.   The risk of bed sharing with mom was most pronounced for infants under three months of age.  Experts believe that bed-sharing SIDS may occur because a baby breathes trapped, stale air, inadvertently smothers, or becomes seriously overheated while sleeping in bed with their mothers.

Does this mean parents cannot sleep close to their babies or feed them in bed? No, you can still breastfeed your infant in the bed as long as you are awake, and you can sleep in the same room as your baby as long as the baby is not in your bed while you, the parent, are asleep. In fact, both breastfeeding and sleeping in the same room with your baby actually lowers his or her chance of  SIDS.  Having your baby close at night is fine, but learn and follow the “Safe Sleep” guidelines experts have worked so hard to develop. The “Safe Sleep” guidelines save lives.

I welcome your comments at While you are there, check out the literally hundreds of podcasts, articles and now videos covering a myriad of pediatric and parenting topics. Until next time.


Smo Notes:


Written collaboratively by John Eun and Paul Smolen MD


    • DocSmo says:

      The Jessica Pearlman, star of the big screen and fabulous world class musician? I am flattered that you follow my blog. Co-Sleepers are a nice idea but they are not tested for safety and are discouraged by the infant sleep experts. The safety of these devices has not been determined; unsafe until proven safe in other words. Here is the exact statement from the latest AAP Guidelines:
      A separate but proximate sleeping environment is recommended: The risk of SIDS has been shown to be reduced when the infant sleeps in the same room as the mother. A crib, bassinet, or cradle that conforms to the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and ASTM (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) is recommended. “Cosleepers” (infant beds that attach to the mother’s bed) provide easy access for the mother to the infant, especially for breastfeeding, but safety standards for these devices have not yet been established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

      So, the answer to your question is not to use these devices unless they have been tested for safety. We want every baby to sleep on the safest surface possible every time they sleep! Remember, SIDS is the most common cause of death in the first year of life after the newborn period. It’s vital we get it right.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *