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To bed-share or not to bed-share?

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Bed-Sharing-May-Impact-Babies-Sleep-QualityIn 2012, a mother in North Carolina, US, woke up to find her new born baby dead. In what the police described as a bad accident, the mother had rolled over the baby in her sleep and suffocated her to death, a horrible nightmare for any parent.

The issue of co-sleeping with children carries with it divided opinions. A study conducted by scientists from the University of Cape Town showed that newborns that sleep apart from their mothers was physiologically stressful for infants and caused anxious arousal and less quiet sleep.

“The reason for this is because babies have an inborn need to be touched a held,” said Dr. Susan Markel, the author of the book What Your Pediatrician Doesn’t Know Can Hurt Your Child in an interview with US media house Fox News. “They enjoy having physical closeness day and night, and this kind of connection is essential to meet a baby’s needs for warmth, comfort and security.”

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“I slept with my youngest until she was four years old,” said Anita Nduku, a mother of two. "My experience with my first born taught me; if you want an easier time getting them to bed, especially on a tiring night, share a bed with them. They will not cry or throw tantrums, they will corporate and you will have a peaceful night."

As much as a peaceful night is important to mothers, for others such as Dorothy Jelimo, bed sharing will not be an option for her. “Anything can go wrong when you share a bed with a baby,” said Dorothy, who is four months pregnant with her first child. "There are tiny humans, when asleep, their presence on your bed cannot be felt like you would feel your spouse’s presence. I think there are so many risks involved and I would not share a bed with my baby."

Her concerns however cannot be ignored. A 2013 study in the British Medical Journal Open found that approximately 2,000 babies die from Sudden Infant Death Syndromes (SID) each year, of this, babies who bed-share are five times more likely to die of SIDS, even if the mom is breastfeeding and has not been smoking, drinking or taking illegal drugs.

Another study in the American Journal of Public Health found 64 percent of babies who died of SIDS were sharing a sleep surface and nearly half were with an adult.

The debate will continue in parenting forums but the decision lies with the parent, they should however be aware of the risks involved when they decide to share a bed with their infant.

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