Tag Archives: co-sleeping

Toxic Mattresses can cause SIDS, is co-sleeping safer

Anthropological and developmental studies indicate that mothers and babies are biologically and psychologically made to sleep together in the same bed, not only to breastfeed but also to nurture them during the night. Since the first ever baby was born, babies have always slept with their mothers – babies aren’t meant to sleep divided from their mums, alone in a different room.

Nowadays, so much fear is instilled in mums not to co-sleep because of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). 90% of SIDS cases occur in infants under 6 months of age. Did you know that SIDS has only been a common occurrence since the 1950’s? This is when fire retardants and various chemicals started being used on mattresses and when the VACCINES given to infants started to increase (as they still are today!)

Since the 1950s, the typical baby/child/adult mattress materials has been replaced with cheap, petroleum-based synthetics. Near enough all mattresses today contain polyurethane foam, vinyl (PVC), phthalates, chemical fire retardants, petroleum based chemicals, and formaldehyde – as well as a host of other added industrial chemicals. Studies, for a while now, have been coming up with findings seriously questioning the safety of these materials.

Babies, children and adults can become ill by continual exposure to the low level of chemicals given off non-stop whilst sleeping. Babies are especially susceptible to these chemicals. Concern is mounting among physicians, health professionals, environmental advocacy groups, public safety officials, as well as consumers because of the possible effects of these chemicals on our children. Many researchers suspect toxic chemicals have a significant role in the dramatic increase in SIDS and childhood disorders.

RELATED LINK: Toxic Chemicals in Baby Crib Mattresses

The use of lead paint was once widespread before being recognised as toxic and banned. Same as this, many components of today’s baby mattresses are also toxic – currently these chemicals are still legal, though they are likely to be eventually banned as well. The sooner the better.

Babies and toddlers spend around 10-14 hours a day sleeping and playing on mattresses. Thus, the first months and years of their life’s, the mattress is the most used object in a child’s environment. Their every breath means they are breathing in these chemicals.

However, there are always alternatives – there are natural ORGANIC cotton based mattresses out there. Co-sleeping benefits are immense, greatly enhancing a baby’s emotional and physical well-being and when safe co-sleeping guidelines are adhered to, SIDS rates for co-sleeping babies are far lower than for babies sleeping alone in cots, separated from mummy.

Some related links on the benefits of co-sleeping:

Dr Sears

Natural Child

Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone

Some doctors and researchers believe that during co-sleeping, the physiological regulation of the baby’s breathing and heartbeat with the mother’s makes co-sleeping safer in relation to SIDS.

A study done in the laboratory of James J. McKenna, Ph.D. of co-sleepers, 2 to 4 month olds, reveals that breastfeeding mums and their infants are highly sensitive throughout the night – throughout all sleep stages – to the movements and physical condition of the other. Mothers sleeping with their babies can easily respond to any changes in the baby – such as if it were choking or having trouble breathing.

CAUTION: consuming large amounts of alcohol/drugs impairs this ability, and can then cause SIDS.

If you co-sleep, make sure you make a safe sleeping space for your baby

Buy and read this book: Sleep safe in a toxic world 

DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational purposes only and is NOT meant to be SIDS prevention advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. NO claims are being made that co-sleeping or using a non-toxic mattress will prevent SIDS since this has not been 100% scientifically proven, and there can be other factors involved in SIDS. None of the information or options presented above or in related articles are considered to be SIDS prevention advice.

The Family Bed Defended PART II

The Family Bed Defended© Part II

It’s instinct for a mother and baby to be near each other. Mother nature intended it that way to ensure the babe survives. Can you imagine a mother a million years ago leaving her baby in another part of the cave to sleep? The child would probably die from the cold, or get eaten by a predator. We don’t live in caves now but human instinct has not changed. Our babies don’t know what year it is, what century we live in. Nor do they care. All they know is that they need their mother and as mothers we should not ignore their needs.

Maria Montessori said that “If you want to understand the needs of the child, observe and study the child.” It isn’t hard to realize that your child needs you at night as well as during the day. How confusing to a child to be hugged and kissed, have their needs and wants attended to during the day, only to be pushed away at night. Your child’s cries, nightmares, and fears of the dark are reminders that they are not meant to be left alone. When a child is left to “cry it out” in his or her own bed the parent may assume that the child has learned to sleep alone. What the child has really learned is that their cries were not answered. Their needs not met. And what appears to be a well-adjusted child sleeping in her own bed may be a child that has learned not to ask for help.

Some parents fear the child will never choose to leave the family bed and sleep on his own. Should we never carry our babies for fear they will never walk? Shall we put them on the potty at birth for fear they’ll never outgrow diapers, or should we even skip the potty for fear they’ll never use toilet? Children grow up and leave soon enough. Why do we feel the need to push them out? “Society has taken away the right of a baby to be dependent on its mother.” (The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin) But what about safety? It is important to keep babies safe. The CPSC sites strangulation and suffocation as reasons for keeping babies out of adult beds. They didn’t, however, mention how many babies died from this same cause in cribs during the same time frame.

How do parents have a safe family bed? Keep pillows and thick blankets off the bed. 15 of the deaths sited by the CPSC were caused by blankets and pillows. This same danger exists in a crib. Make sure the baby can’t slip between the mattress and the wall. Keep all furniture like bedside tables away from the bed so that if the child rolls off the bed he/she can’t get lodged between the bed and furniture. Check headboards and footboards for safety. If there are bars, make sure that the child can’t get her head stuck between them. Check that the mattress fits the frame well and that it fits tightly with the headboard and footboard. Don’t take drugs; even some over the counter drugs can make you less aware of your baby. Don’t drink alcohol. If the bed is against the wall, make sure it is firmly against the wall. Babies can fall between them and suffocate. I check the bed is tight against the wall every night, without fail. And never take a baby or child to bed with you if you sleep in a waterbed or have a feather bed. Don’t sleep with babies or small children on couches or sofa beds either. Many children have died in cribs. “There are no statistics comparing the number of SIDS deaths that occurred in bed vs. the number that occurred in the crib. Until those statistics are known, the CPSC should not tell parents not to sleep with their babies,” -Dr. William Sears. It is unlikely that a parent will roll over on a baby and smother it unless the parent is using drugs, alcohol, or is in some way unable to arouse from sleep normally. Babies have built in alarm systems that arouse them if their air is reduced. Have you ever had a baby out on a windy day? The young baby panics quickly when the wind blows in their face and they can’t breath. A baby that is choking will also react alarmingly. If you happen to roll on your baby, you would be awakened by a startled baby, instinct having kicked in, crying from the discomfort. Another reason why it’s unlikely you’ll roll over on your baby is that adults sleep in beds without rails. Do we fall off the bed? I don’t. You have the same ability to stay off your baby.

At the risk of sounding sexist, I’ll say that I believe mothers, in many cases, are more aware of baby at night than fathers. Mother nature has it that mothers do most of the baby care while fathers hunt for food. We had our baby sleep between me and the wall and daddy slept on the outer edge. Dr. William Sears insists that it’s far safer for babies to sleep with their parents than to not sleep with them. Crib-related death takes more babies each year than deaths caused by the family bed. Family bed deaths are an average of 64 per year while crib-related deaths take about 2500.

I wonder why the CPSC and JPMA are not interested in making the family bed a safe environment. I wonder why the two organizations have teamed up in the first place. Could it be to get us to buy more cribs? I hope not. The JPMA is a multi-million dollar industry that stands to profit from scared parents running out and buying cribs. How accurate is the data that the CPSC is using to support their claim that the family bed is unsafe? “There is disturbing advertisement evidence that the information upon which these definitive claims are made is incomplete, unreliable and misguided. The CPSC’s data was collected from death certificates, coroner’s reports and other anecdotal sources. Circumstances surrounding the deaths, such as parental intoxication, are not recorded in these records. In addition, the determination of the cause of death is often subjective and is not always consistent even in comparable situations. In many areas of the country, infants who may have died from SIDS or other physical ailments in the parental bed are often recorded as cases of overlying.”-iVillage/ParentsPlace.com

I want the CPSC to do an unbiased report of the different kinds of sleeping arrangements available. And they need to do it independently of JPMA. Parents don’t need to be scared into spending money on a crib. They need to know that they can trust the reports of the CPSC. If you want to practise the family bed, make it a safe environment and enjoy the company of your babies. If you don’t feel comfortable with it then get a safe bed for your baby and put it close to your bed.

Remember to follow your instincts, be safe, and enjoy your children.

EDITORS COMMENT: Both our children have co-slept with us. for YEARS. The eldest stopped a few years ago off her own accord. Our time with them as children is really so brief I have no regrets and would do it every single time. Our little boy 2 and a quarter still co-sleeps.  That doesn’t mean we didn’t buy a cot for our first though, along with every other gadget on sale . We purchased an organic coconut coir mattress (around £300 just for the mattress) – which never got used lol.

Before our first was born, I was scared, but even more scared at the thought of having my baby in my bed, scared I’d squash her, suffocate her, injure her… then she was born and I had no choice… just an overpowering instinct to keep her as close as possible. Also, the hospital I had her in was the only hospital in the UK (at the time) to have 3 sided baby cots that slot on to the hospital beds, essentially meaning the baby is in with you anyway. well, as soon as i had her she was in bed with me, not even in that attachable baby cot. I had to have a C-section, meaning I would have to stay in the hospital for a few days. I remember worrying almost instantly that I’d be told to put her in the cot, which now seemed a much to far away place for her to be. However, there was a lovely midwife who told me how important it was to sleep close to your baby and that i wouldn’t have to put her in the cot. What an amazing lady! I’ve not looked back since. It was – and is – so much easier when they wake up for breastfeeds at night. No getting up and going in to a separate room, no need to wake fully or get cold, no having to try an put them back down without waking them, no need to tip-toe out…definitely more positive than negative aspects in my opinion 🙂

The Family Bed Defended – Part I

The Family Bed Defended – Part I

The Family Bed Defended©

FREE ARTICLE: You are free to publish this article on websites and print publications. You can also email it to friends and/or associates. We just ask that you include this information with the article and let us know where you published it. This article first appeared in The Wise Mother magazine, published in Salt Lake City, Utah. www.thewisemother.com

by Karen Squires
“The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) is launching a mass-media national campaign aimed at “reducing deaths associated with placing babies in adult beds.”-The Compleat Mother magazine

I received this information in an email from The Compleat Mother Magazine. I have a burning question about their campaign. The CPSC is there to warn us about product safety, not family practices. I wonder why they are concerned with my family’s sleeping arrangements. Wouldn’t it be nice if their focus was to help make the family bed a safer place, and not about scaring parents into buying cribs? But that’s not their goal. The CPSC sited an average of 64 deaths per year of babies in adult beds. From this they decided to tell parents to avoid having the baby sleep in their bed. How many children die in car crashes every year? Why aren’t they warning us to keep our children out of cars? They aren’t. We are warned to use car seats, and taught to use them properly. Why not teach parents who want to have their children in bed with them how to do it safely?

The family bed is the practice of having babies/children sleeping in the same bed as their parents. We have a family bed ourselves. It wasn’t something that I planned on when our youngest child was born. It wasn’t something I’d even heard of. Not as something people actually wanted anyway. When I did hear of it, it was when parents who were too tired to handle a child who didn’t want to sleep alone, gave up and let the baby/child sleep with them. I wish I had been so smart.

Our older son had slept in a room by himself from 6 weeks on. I felt so overwhelmed by his needs during that day that I needed to be alone during the night to recoup. Looking back, I can see that I was a new mother who needed some help from family, friends, anybody in fact, to reduce my stress level. The answer then of course did not lie in needing to put my 6 week old in another room at night, but in getting more help during the day, or the night, to help me deal with motherhood better.

I was not following my instincts to have him near me at night, as I would wake up in the morning and upon not hearing him cry right away, would assume that he had succumbed to SIDS during the night. One such morning I lay in bed for about 20 minutes, terrified to go and check on him. I was sure he had died and I was trying to put off going through the horror of actually knowing that it had happened. He eventually began to cry and I was incredibly relieved.

After he turned 12 months I started to relax about SIDS, but then the fear that he would be kidnapped out of his crib during the night started to creep in. I would check all the windows and doors before going to bed at night in my attempt to guarantee his safety until morning when I could have him safely in my arms again. Believe it or not it didn’t occur to me to ignore the pressures from society to push him away at night, and take him in my arms and keep him by my side. When my second son was born,I was older and wiser. I was less likely to be affected by what the crowd was doing. I came home from the hospital with my newborn son, still not aware of the family bed concept. I had a crib, a very expensive mattress, cute sheets, blankets and bumpers to match.

I held him almost constantly for the first 2-3 days as relatives and friends dropped by to see my new baby. During one such visit I became overwhelmed and tired from all the visitors and decided to retire to the bedroom. I lay my new sleeping son in his fancy crib and started to walk toward my bed for a much needed nap. I hadn’t even made it three steps when he woke up crying. I went back to him, picked him up and started to rock him gently as I sang him a song. He was asleep in seconds. Again I lay him down in his crib and he awoke a few seconds later. This happened again and again. Over the next few days I grew more and more tired as I only managed to grab a few minutes sleep here and there. One day I was so desperate for sleep that I lay down in my bed with him, too tired to stand any longer. I made the bed safe for him, and fell asleep almost instantly. I woke up 2 hours later, the most amount of sleep I’d had in over a week. My baby was starting to stir, he was hungry, and this no doubt had awakened me. This was my first experience with the family bed. He has been in my bed every night since, over five years now.

I didn’t immediately accept the family bed as a good thing. I did it because if I was to survive, I had to sleep. I couldn’t leave him screaming for me, ignoring his cries. It would have broken my heart. The first year was the hardest. I had family telling me to get him out of my bed. That I would suffocate him, roll on him, he’d roll off the bed. On and on went the warnings. But I knew he needed me close, and as a bonus I was not waking up in the morning wondering if he was alive. I could see that SIDS had not taken him, and no stranger was going to get into my bed, steal my baby, and leave without me hearing something. I was content being close to him and he was content being close to me.

The Family Bed Defended PART II

Co-Sleeping Benefits


Much research has been carried out into the benefits of co-sleeping, and below is a summary of some of these.

Benefits for infants:

Co-sleeping promotes physiological regulation – the closeness of a parent may help the infant’s immature nervous system learn to self-regulate during sleep (Farooqi 1994, Mitchell 1997, Mosko1996, Nelson 1996, Skragg, 1996).

It can also assist in the prevention of SIDS by preventing infants from going into sleep states that are too deep. In addition, the parents’ breathing may help the infant “remember” to breathe (McKenna 1990, Mosko 1996, Richard 1998).Gaps in breathing are normal during the early months of infancy. It is very likely that the mother’s breathing gives her infant important cues, reminding them take a breath following exhalation, preventing a SIDS situation developing. Should this system fails, the mother is still close at hand to help by wakening the infant. Breastfeeding mum’s and babies generally have a coordinated sleep and dream cycle, making the mum highly sensitive to her baby. Being close by means she will wake if the baby is having trouble. If the baby is alone, this life-saving intervention can’t happen.

Both infant and parents sleep better – as mum’s are so close by, infants never need fully awake and cry to get a response. Thus, mum’s are able to tend to the infant before either of them are fully awake (McKenna). Therefore mum’s are more likely to have positive night-time experiences (McKenna, 1994) as they tend to sleep better and don’t awaken fully (McKenna & Mosko 1997).

Babies receive more attention, protective care and nurturing – co-sleeping definitely increases breastfeeding (Clements 1997, McKenna 1994, Richard et al. 1996). Even the conservative AAP (American Academy of Paediatrics) acknowledges that co-sleeping gives definite breastfeeding advantages (Hauck 1998).

Co-sleeping mum’s breastfeed on average twice as long as non co-sleeping mum’s (McKenna). As well as this, an infants suckling raises the oxygen flow. This is very beneficial for both growth and immune functions.

A co-sleeping infant also receives a lot more attention and protective care. Co-sleeping mum’s display 5 times the number of “protective” behaviours than mums who sleep apart from their babies e.g. checking baby is not too hot/cold, adjusting blankets, cuddling, stroking (McKenna & Mosko 1997). Co-sleeping mums also demonstrate an increased sensitivity to the presence of the baby in the bed (McKenna).

Long-term benefits of co-sleeping for children

Display greater self-esteem – in one study by Lewis & Janda,1988, boys who co-slept with their parents between birth and 5 years old, had considerably higher self-esteem. They also experienced less anxiety and guilt. Girls, who co-slept with their parents during childhood, felt less discomfort when it came to physical contact and affection as adults.

Co-sleeping seems to promote self-esteem, intimacy and confidence, perhaps because attitude of parental acceptance is reflected(Crawford, 1994).

Display greater positive behaviour – study carried out on parents on military bases found that co-sleeping children were given higher evaluations from their teachers than did children who slept alone (Forbes et al. 1992).

A recent study in England found that there was a definite trend amongst children who never slept in their parents bed, to be less happy, harder to control and having far more tantrums. These children were also in fact far more fearful than children who always slept in their parents’ bed, all night (Heron 1994).

Display higher life satisfaction – a large, cross-cultural study carried out on 5 different ethnic groups in large U.S. cities found that across all groups, co-sleepers displayed a general feeling of satisfaction with life (Mosenkis 1998).

Parents think that….

Co-sleeping enhances sensitivity – lots of co-sleeping parents feel they naturally become more attuned to their baby/child. Their sensitivity to the needs and patterns of their child(ren) convert into daytime sensitivity as well.

Bedtime struggles are lessened – parents know their children, when sleeping in their bed, have no reason to be afraid of bedtime. As children get older, and move into their own rooms, they have secure and positive feelings and images of sleep time. There is no motif to relate bedtime to being alone, or abandoned.

An environment of acceptance is promoted – co-sleeping is a willingness to understand and fully accept a child’s need for the parent both day and night. Therefore parents in essence convey that while the child is small and needful, they will be there no matter what to meet the child’s needs. They also are inclined to believe that this willingness to respond to the child’s needs carries over into the daytime, powerfully contributes to the relationship with the child as a whole.

Co-sleeping is just as safe, or even safer than alone in a cot – existing studies DONT prove co-sleeping to be inherently unsafe. It is the elements of the sleeping environment that decree the danger level to the infant. For instance – for non-smoking parents, who don’t abuse alcohol or drugs and sleep on a firm mattress with no fluffy bedding, co-sleeping is a safe environment.

On top of this it is extremely likely that countless children’s lives have been rescued by sleeping next to their parents. For instance, there is anecdotal evidence, of mothers who have noticed their child is not breathing and thus were able to stimulate them to breathe.

Related link:Organic Cotton Mattresses  


This information is for educational purposes only and is NOT meant to be SIDS prevention advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. NO claims are being made that co-sleeping or using a non-toxic mattress will prevent SIDS since this has not been 100% scientifically proven, and there can be other factors involved in SIDS. None of the information or options presented above or in related articles are considered to be SIDS prevention advice.