I don’t even know where to start.
Imagery like this is not an appropriate way to educate parents and caregivers about safe sleep. It is a good way to scare people into making dangerous choices. Studies have found that alongside recommendations against bed-sharing, there is an observed increase in infant morbidity and mortality. The culprit? Instead of feeling comfortable laying down in bed with their infants, sleep deprived parents resorted to holding and feeding their baby, sitting up in a recliner or a sofa, and fell asleep. One study found that in an attempt to avoid bed sharing, 55% of mothers feed their babies at night from a recliner, chair or sofa, and 47% admitted that they fall asleep with their babies in these locations. And sofas and recliners are a far more dangerous (unintentional) co-sleeping surface.
I’m not saying everyone should bed share. What I am saying is that these types of messages are misleading, and are based on bad research. The AAP recommendations are in dire need of an update. Most of the studies used by the AAP that implicated the dangers of co-sleeping failed to report the use of drugs or alcohol, but also failed to identify method of feeding (breastfed or bottle fed). One of the studies even included babies who had died in their own bed, but had been in the parents bed at an earlier time.
So, instead of comparing bed sharing to giving your baby a meat clever, how about we take a moment to update our recommendations so their align with good research and educate parents about safe bed-sharing options, in an objective manner that supports the needs of an infant in the fourth trimester?
“Solitary sleep is historically novel, culturally circumscribed, developmentally inappropriate, and evolutionarily bizarre.”
-Helen Ball, PhD