Parents Magazine–not quite all the facts on co-sleeping

31 December 2009 at 1:37 pm Leave a comment

Parents Magazine, that bastion of fact-checking, unbiased information for parents (uh, tongue firmly in my cheek) has an aggravating, incomplete, and misleading article on co-sleeping–“Sleep, Baby, Sleep…Safely”–in their January 2010 issue. 

The article blames the high US rate of SIDS  on not “follow[ing] these safe-sleeping rules from the moment your baby is born”; these “rules” include putting your baby to sleep on her back, using a pacifier, and not co-sleeping. 

It’s interesting that the article begins with the anecdote of a stressed father who fell asleep with his baby on the couch, after which the baby died. This father is exonerated, oddly: “Frank didn’t intend to sleep with his baby, but for many parents, bedsharing has become a way of life.” As usual, mothers–especially breastfeeding ones–are read the riot act, as the article quotes one source, saying, “Bedsharing is more popular because breastfeeding rates are up, and many breastfeeding mothers advocate it.” The article continues: “Especially when you’re breastfeeding, it can seem much easier to let your baby lie next to you. But the evidence shows that if you and your baby fall asleep after feeding, he’ll be at increased risk of both SIDS and suffocation. . . Until studies offer proof, don’t assume that cosleeping can be done safely.”

SIDS and any infant deaths are tragic, of course, but I don’t know why mothers are blamed, here, or why this article entirely ignores James McKenna, the foremost expert on mother-baby pairs and cosleeping. Read through McKenna’s site for the other side of the story, the one the magazine ignores: cosleeping can be safe, and protective for baby, and McKenna and others would argue that American rates of SIDS are so high at least in part because the majority of mothers are not, in fact, breastfeeding and sleeping safely with their babies.

–Christina

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Merry Christmas, for those who celebrate! Quick link: Science & Sensibility on epidural complications

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