Sunday, July 23, 2006

Share your bed

This is an article published in the last issue of the Ovi magazine - Ovi lehti

By Asa Butcher

Last month a coroner in the UK spoke out against the so-called 'dangers' of sharing your bed with your baby claiming that 300 babies die every year. Mr Roger Whittaker, the coroner in question, has only seen 12 accidental smothering cases in the past two years and is criticising the Royal College of Midwives for saying that there are some benefits to babies sharing a bed with mothers.

Sharing a bed with your baby is only dangerous if you have been drinking, are on medication or are extremely tired; otherwise, the practice is perfectly natural. Natural is the keyword here because the majority of mammals sleep with their babies after they are born and it is common practice across Africa and Asia to share a bed with your baby. The thought of putting your child to sleep in a separate room is an alien concept on both those continents.

Now we have to listen to coroners becoming self-proclaimed baby experts casually dismissing what science is proving and veteran parents know. How many babies stick curious fingers into power sockets, how many drink bleach, how many do the unexpected and pay the ultimate price? Are any of these things banned from our homes? Why isn't he speaking out against abuse, abandonment and neglect instead?

Parents should listen to their own baby and react in the way that feels right, not the way that the book is telling you or the comments from a mal-informed coroner. Many parents share a bed with their baby but are too afraid of being judged by others to openly admit the practice. The act of putting your baby to sleep in a separate room or in a cot stems from convenient parenting, forcing the baby to fit to your needs and not vice-versa.

Hearing parents crow with pride: 'My baby sleeps in his cot through the night in the other room', err, well done. Does the pacifier stop it from crying or are you using the 'let it cry it out' method? Dr. Sears, a paediatrician, coined the term "attachment parenting" and is one of the foremost advocates of nurturing your baby according to the way you feel. Picking the baby up won't make him needy, letting the baby cry it out damages the trust and sharing a bed is one of the most natural things a mother can do.

Sharing a bed with your baby brings an emotional connection between both mum and dad. It means that you share sleep cycles, night-time emotions and a connection that feels like no other. Babies go to sleep better, plus both mother and baby have improved sleep patterns. Breastfeeding is easier, sharing fits in with busy lifestyles and babies thrive, which is something that has been known since 1840.

Mr Whittaker should do some research about the subject before scaremongering new parents who have enough to worry about without that sort of input. If you want to learn more about 'attachment parenting' and its benefits, visit:


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