Monday, December 04, 2023


“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”

— William Wilberforce

Babies May Benefit from Co-Sleeping

mother and baby
… in Japan, parent-child co-sleeping is the norm, and their infant mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world at 2.8 deaths per 1,000 live births compared with 6.2 in the U.S.

In most of the world, it is common practice for parents and babies to sleep together. In the United States and several other countries, including Britain, Germany, and parts of western Europe, parents tend to put babies in their own beds and usually in a separate room. This custom is largely due to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warnings about the potential for falls or accidental suffocation of the infant by the co-sleeping parent.1  The fear is that tired or intoxicated parents could roll onto their infants while sleeping.

According to Robert LeVine, professor of education and human development, emeritus, Harvard University, and Sarah LeVine, former research fellow in human development, also at Harvard, American parents need to ease up. They believe that, while it is true that many non-Western countries have higher infant mortality rates than the U.S., “there’s no reason to think that has anything to do with co-sleeping.”2 

These researchers note that in Japan, parent-child co-sleeping is the norm, and their infant mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world at 2.8 deaths per 1,000 live births compared with 6.2 in the U.S.2 3 The rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in Japan in 2005 was 0.16 per 1,000 live births, which was notably less than the SIDS rate of 0.54 per 1,000 live births in the U.S.2 4 

The LeVines argue that, far from being dangerous, there are major benefits for the infant in co-sleeping with the mother. It helps calm the baby and regulate its nervous system through a process of “physiological synchronization” between mother and baby.2 Citing studies by biological anthropologist James McKenna, the optimal sleeping arrangement for a baby is what he calls “breastsleeping,” where baby and mother sleep together and the mother breastfeeds responsively.2 


1 American Academy of Pediatrics. Bed Sharing Remains Greatest Risk Factor for Sleep Related Infant Deaths. July 14, 2014.
2 LeVine R and LeVine S. It’s OK to Sleep Next to Your Infant Child. In Fact, It’s Beneficial. Los Angeles Times. Sept. 16, 2016.
3 Raines K. Why is the U.S. Infant Mortality Rate So High? The Vaccine Reaction May 9, 2016.
4 Georgetown University. Table 3. International Comparison of SIDS and Postneonatal Mortality* (PNM) Rates per 1,000 Live Births, 1990–2005. National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health

8 Responses

  1. I “breastslept” with both of my now teenage sons. They never slept in a crib much to the chagrin of their pediatrician, family members (including my husband) and friends. I was told that I would roll over and suffocate them and that they would never leave the “family” bed. Wrong! It was a wonderful bonding experience and when they were ready to sleep in their own bed, off they went. I think it was tougher for me than for them. My boys are now intelligent, healthy, well-adjusted young men. To all the moms out there, do what you feel is most beneficial for you and your child. There is no greater bond than a mother and her child!

  2. My children are past the age of breastfeeding, but I wish I had never tried to getany of my babies to sleep alone in a crib in another room. I heard so many stories about how it was dangerous and would feel guilty when I would let my baby sleep with me. Then I got smarter and just did what came naturally. If I was awake and baby was tired, I would put them to bed. If they cried when I was in bed, I would bring them to bed with me and nurse/sleep. We both slept so much better. It was ridiculous the amount of back and forth to another bedroom we went through. It was so much less tiring to hear the baby cry and just let them nurse. Then they slept better too because mother was near.

  3. I have found co-sleeping to work wonderfully for myself and my daughter. She is able to nurse on demand and I am able to rest more having her so near to me. I’ve never been comfortable with putting my babies in another room to sleep. I believe co-sleeping develops a feeling of safety and comfort for both baby and mother.

  4. I also co-slept/nursed through the night with my 3 kids. We never had a crib, they were just in my bed. This worked exceptionally well for us, because I was at an office all day and really needed that time with my babies during the night or I wouldn’t have made it through the long days at office due to mommy-guilt for being away. It allowed me to sleep better because even though I would wake up several times per night to nurse, all I had to do was roll over and baby would latch on and we’d both be back to sleep thanks to the hormones invoked by nursing that help mom back to sleep. This means Dad wasn’t waking up to any crying, so he was well-rested enough to care for the babies all day while I went to work. And he never had to get up at night. Actually none of us did. I wouldn’t have traded that for anything. It always felt like the right thing to do, very natural.

  5. It is so stupid the responses one gets when you talk about letting your baby or child sleep in the same bed. This is the way it has been done for all of human history save for the last hundred or so years. Our bed is a happy place and not only for us the parents, but for my daughter and cats. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I feel for all those kids who are made to sleep alone, in a different room – NOW that is inhuman, unless of course they want to be in their own room. I also think it is very good for the psyche of the child and improves their self esteem, confidence and mental health…this is a very loving thing that gets practiced for a third of a normal day. Parents have to be creative about sex, but where there is a will, there is a way! We do just fine, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  6. I cosleep with all my babies but especially my twins. People would ask me all the time how I got any sleep I would just tell them I slept great but it was my husband who didn’t fit in the bed with the 3 of us. ?. Besides at the end of a busy day nothing is nicer than holding your baby while you both fall asleep.

  7. I am a first time mom to a 10 month old boy. I’ve always followed my motherly instinct and just do what comes naturally to me. One of those is breastsleeping. He does have a crib but it’s right next to my bed. I put him in there after he’s fallen asleep, but when he wakes up he’s back in my bed, on the breast and right back asleep. Lots of times I don’t even remember getting him! Cosleeping/breastsleeping comes naturally to us and I’m glad to hear older moms positive experiences with it.

  8. I breast fed my daughter and slept with her very near, first in a bassinet and then in a crib. If she awoke during the night I put her in bed, let her latch on and we both went back to sleep. I never hurt her once having her in the crook of my arm. We slept many hours together. It was both very peaceful and very comforting for both of us. When children have apnea problems due to premature birth or other issues, the alarm goes off and all you have to do is touch the infant and they begin to breath on their own. So co-sleeping and touching would always assure in your favor that your infant would not stop breathing because you are always touching each other.

    I personally think a study or stats need to be compiled concerning the numbers of infants that die of SIDS in homes that have cats for pets. My mother would never let us have cats in the house when we were small. I’m here to inform you that a cat can “suck” a baby’s breath. I was always a heavy milk drinker when I was growing up, and I still like milk. When I was 14 years old my I was woke up abruptly because I could not breath and was suffocating. I had a male cat on my chest, purring and pawing back and forth with his front paws on my chest. He had his nose and mouth right on mine and he was smelling the milk on my breath. I kid you not, I could not get my breath until I woke up and got him off me and got his nose and mouth away from mine. If a cat can suck the breath from a 14-year-old then definitely, he could suck the breath of an infant to death. I was mature enough to wake up and push the cat off my chest, but an infant could not do that and would not have a great chance of survival. As I stated above, they should do a study concerning this as people think it is an old wives tale. Cats love mild and therefore they would not mean the infant harm it would just happen.

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