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Bed-sharing and co-sleeping : research overview.

Ball, Helen L. (2009) 'Bed-sharing and co-sleeping : research overview.', New digest., 48 . pp. 22-27.


This review examines the issue of babies sleeping with their parents. Beginning with an anthropological perspective, the biological underpinnings of parent-baby sleep contact are explored, as are crosscultural practices. The relationship between baby sleeping and feeding practices in the UK is considered along with the safety aspects of bed-sharing. Key points: • Parent-baby sleep contact is a predictable human behaviour based on our species’ evolutionary biology; • Bed-sharing is a common method of night-time care employed by around half of all UK parents in their baby’s first month of life; • Bed-sharing and breastfeeding are strongly related and sleeping in close proximity to their baby helps mothers to breastfeed; • Epidemiological data show that bed-sharing is associated with an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) for babies whose parents are smokers, consume alcohol or drugs, or who sleep with their baby on a sofa; • Research into the benefits and hazards of bed-sharing should consider WHO is bed-sharing; the circumstances under which bedsharing is taking place (WHERE and HOW), and the way in which bed-sharing is conducted (WHAT). • There is no simple message about bed-sharing that will fit the needs of all families. Parents should be encouraged to weigh up the risks and benefits that pertain to their individual circumstances and make an informed choice about what is best for them and their baby.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© 2010 NCT. NCT maintains copyright on this research overview. Ball, Helen L. (2009) 'Bed-sharing and co-sleeping : research overview.', New Digest, 48 . pp. 22-27.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:14 June 2010
Date of first online publication:October 2009
Date first made open access:No date available

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