Copyright © While They Sleep

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I'm literally typing this as they sleep. My husband to my right, my little one in the middle of us. Which is precisely what my post this morning is about: him sleeping with us, or better known as, co-sleeping.

Co-sleeping is a pretty controversial topic. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) lists several factors related to the sleep environment of an infant as being associated with a higher risk of SIDS/SUIDS and other infant sleep-related deaths, such as being placed to sleep in a prone position, a soft sleep surface, co-sleeping, or being put to sleep with items that could cover the head or face.

As the Project Manager of the Child Death Review Team (CDRT), I, along with a multidisciplinary team of professionals in the community, review the deaths of children in this county. In our review, we often see the deaths of infants who co-slept. Because of what I do, the fact that I work with some of the best pediatricians in the state from each major hospital system, and the AAP's recommendations, I chose not to co-sleep with my son. Since we brought him home, he has slept in a bassinet next to my side of our bed and now he sleeps in a crib that's in our room.

Problem is, although I chose NOT to co-sleep with Elijah, but at 7 months, he has chosen to co-sleep with us.

My predicament is that my infant wants to co-sleep, but I (while I love the closeness and enjoy him being in my arms) know firsthand the potential dangers and risks of co-sleeping.  So how do I explain that all to a 7 month old? How do I balance, being a Sociologist/Epidemiologist/Statistician and being a Mom?

As a professional, I advocate parents and people in the community to not co-sleep with their infants. After reviewing countless child deaths where co-sleeping was a factor, how could I advocate anything else? Problem is, how do you get a 7 month old to understand that what he naturally wants, to be next to his mother while he sleeps like he did for 10 months in her womb, can be dangerous to his life?

Ironically, I received an article via email at work the other day in which a Salt Lake City, Utah couple was charged for child neglect after their child died while co-sleeping. Read story here: Court upholds charges in "co-sleeping" baby death. Although, charging parents who are already mourning the loss of their infant seems harsh to me, it made me really think about co-sleeping being a form of child neglect. When you know their are warranted risk factors, backed by the AAP, renowned medical doctors, and statistics, but you chose to do it anyway, should it be considered child neglect? Can you see where the topic gets so controversial?

For now, I struggle with the stats and facts, recommendations from those I respect in the field vs being a Mother who enjoys her baby near her while he sleeps. However, I have chosen to "semi-cosleep" (my own terminology). Meaning: He sleeps in bed with us until I feel he is sound asleep and then I move him to his crib.
My life revolves around my son and everything I do, I do for his best interest. This one thing though, I struggle with. What's best, what he naturally wants or what's proven to be safe?


Post a Comment