August 6, 2014 8:17 pm
Updated: August 6, 2014 8:45 pm

Co-sleeping controversy: what parents need to know


CALGARY- Alberta’s Child and Youth advocate has a warning for parents: the potential consequences of co-sleeping can be catastrophic.

In a report into the death of a six-week old baby girl who was found unresponsive in her foster parent’s bed, advocate Del Graff recommends the province prohibit foster-parents from bed sharing with infants in their care.

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“It’s one of the risk factors associated with infants dying suddenly and unexpectedly,” says Dr. Ian Mitchell, chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee with SIDS Calgary. “The evidence is based on a whole series of cohort studies.”

Alberta Health Services, the Canadian Pediatric Society and the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends against bed-sharing. Instead, officials say babies are safest in their own crib.

Still, co-sleeping has support among people within the attachment parenting community.

“There is not another mammal that does not keep their babies close to them at night,” says Teresa Pitman, the co-author of ‘Sweet Sleep.’ “I think that’s why babies cry so much when you put them somewhere else, and why mothers feel that real pain when they don’t have their babies close to them.”

Alberta Health Services says parents should never co-sleep with their baby if they smoke, have taken drugs or alcohol or are overtired. AHS also says the safest place for babies to sleep is on their back, in an uncluttered crib, cradle or bassinet which is near where the parents sleep for at least the first six months.

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