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10 October 2005


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Until SIDS rates are studied in families who co-sleep exclusively and practice night nursing, I refuse to pay any heed to the AAP's concern about co-sleeping. My guess is that the co-sleeping death stats (from which they draw their concern) are mostly made up of incidents in which drunk parents fell asleep with the baby in their bed.


Peter, you have identified what I feel is the greatest fault of SIDS/cosleeping research.

The only study I know of that explicitly concludes, based on decent data and statistics, that Western babies are safest in cribs in their parents' rooms is Tappin et al (2005).

The data includes a total of twenty-six children (13 SIDS babies and 13 of the controls --- the equal number is a coincidence, as the controls were not chosen based on this variable) who slept regularly in the parents' bed. But the overwhelming number of babies slept regularly in cribs, including the ones who died in the parents' bed and were counted as co-sleepers.

I do not fault the authors of the study for failing to examine a larger number of regularly cosleeping children. I do not think there are very many in the pool to draw from. But I do fault them for drawing the conclusion that the safety of occasionally taking a baby into your bed reflects accurately the safety of sleeping with a baby every night.

I think that it's pretty well established by now that if you and your child are used to them sleeping in a crib, it's not safe to take them into your bed "just for one night." This isn't the same as sleeping with them every night, and both of you being accustomed to it.

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