Is sleeping in your bed with your baby dangerous? - Dallas News |

Is sleeping in your bed with your baby dangerous?

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There's nothing that will leave you more starved for sleep than a newborn baby. Some parents say it helps to sleep with their babies in their bed. But, is it safe?

You have pediatricians and safety experts warning parents, don't do it, don't bed-share. On the other side, you have parents who believe bed-sharing is natural, comforting, and helps everybody sleep.

So, is there a right answer?

When 3-month-old Jack was born, Angelika Taylor says it hit her -- just like it did with her girls -- the inseparable love.

"I'm having that ‘new mommy syndrome' where I can't peel away from him yet," said Taylor.

At night, Jack, who is breastfeeding, sleeps right next to his parents, but in his own bed that is designed to ease his acid reflux.

"If he's hungry, I can get to him right away. There is no lag time walking between rooms. We're half dead asleep anyways," said Taylor.

Sleeping with your baby close, but in a separate bed, is the safest way to go, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.  

"That may work some of the time, but it's not going to work all of the time," said Dr. James McKenna.

Dr. James McKenna of Notre Dame, who's been studying bed-sharing for 30 years, says 50 to 60 percent of breastfeeding moms fall asleep with their babies.
In one Los Angeles survey, 70 percent of new parents -- at some point --- were having their babies in bed with them.

Hard-hitting campaigns, like one launched by the Milwaukee Health Department, warn parents not to bed-share, because of the risk of accidental suffocation, or strangulation.
McKenna says parents do it because it's a way to bond, and get more sleep.

"The critical factor is how to do it," said McKenna.

McKenna says keep your bed as simple as possible. Place your baby on its back, and keep other children out of the bed.

"A substantial number of suffocations don't involve the parent suffocating the baby, but other children that come in during the night and lay over the baby," said McKenna.

McKenna says research shows breastfeeding mothers and their babies sleep lighter and awakening more easily, within 1 to 2 seconds of each other. He says bottle-feeding mothers and babies sleep more heavily, and may not be as in-sync.

"So, that's why I, if asked, suggest that if breastfeeding is not involved, the baby should sleep alongside in a crib or some kind of device connected to the bed. A pack and play, or whatever, rather than being in the bed," said McKenna.

If you smoke, have been drinking alcohol, using drugs, or taking medication that might make you tired, you should never bed-share. If you're not sure, follow Taylor's lead: sleep close, but not together.

"It's less complicated. If you're worried about anything, there's your baby in a safe, safe separate surface," said Taylor.

McKenna says if you smoked during your pregnancy, or smoke now, do not sleep with your baby in your bed. The smoke exposure can reduce a baby's ability to wake up, if it temporarily stops breathing. That can create a life-threatening situation.

To read more about Dr. James McKenna, Ph. D., and his guidelines for bed-sharing, click here!

Is sleeping with your baby in your bed nurturing? Or is it dangerous? Weigh in and tell Beth Galvin FOX 5 or Post your comments on our FOX 5 Atlanta Facebook page, or tweet us @GoodDayAtlanta.

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