Is co-sleeping dangerous?

How could something humans have been doing since we were apes, be detrimental to the survival of our species? My background in evolutionary biology calls foul when every bit of government information, save a few well-read nurses, is focused on scaring women out of co-sleeping with their babies.

Dr. James McKenna’s research at Notre Dame University challenges mainstream views on sleep. This Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Center for Behavioral Studies of Mother-Infant Sleep, is a proponent of co-sleeping after his lengthy study and review of infant death and sleep practices throughout the world as well as the sociological factors influencing how we study infant sleep. He has a variety of published peer-reviewed articles on co-sleeping. Here are links to a few (the last listed being a literature review):

Why babies should never sleep alone: A review of the co-sleeping controversy in relation to SIDS, bedsharing and breast feeding in Paedeatric Respiratory Review

Why we never ask: is it safe for infants to sleep alone in the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine

Researching The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): The Role of Ideology in Biomedical Science (a literature review)

One Response to “Is co-sleeping dangerous?”
  1. drew says:

    I agree something we have always done, is very likely to be evolutionarily unproductive. I would also suggest when you look at our close genetic cousins, they co-sleep, in fact I wonder if you could find a land mammal that doesn’t co-sleep. I think one complicating issue is that our modern western culture pushes us strongly toward a single block of sleep, for 8 hrs or less, between 11 pm and 8 am. This isn’t done indigenously anywhere! So the pressure on Mom’s Dad’s and Babies to all fall asleep together, at the same time, for the same length of time, is nothing less than crazy-making! I think that’s a factor that pushes people away from co-sleeping, because it makes it easier for them to fit a “normal” cycle. Most research says that our western culture, most specifically north america, is the most sleep deprived ever. Nap time anyone?

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