Kids okay to share bed: expert

Mack Paul Manietta with mother Charlotte and dad Kristian shortly after he was born.
Mack Paul Manietta with mother Charlotte and dad Kristian shortly after he was born. Brett Wortman

KRISTIAN Manietta and his wife Charlotte Paul sleep better and longer with their two-week-old baby in their bed.

The Peregian Springs couple said it settled little Mack and helped promote the mother and baby bond.

They were not surprised to hear a leading Sudden Infant Death Syndrome researcher share the same views on his visit to Australia this week.

Doctor James McKenna said that as long as co-sleeping was carried out in a responsible manner, not on a waterbed or couch, then babies up to 12 months old would reap the long-term benefits.

“If parents are not able to sleep in the same bed as their baby then they should at least be in the same room,” Dr McKenna said.

“Co-sleeping is humankind's oldest and most successful method of mother and baby sleeping.

“The push in the western world to get babies to sleep through the night on their own as young as possible is doing more harm than good.

“Whether it's in the same bed or on a separate sleeping surface in the same room, no baby should ever sleep outside the direct supervision of an adult.”

Dr McKenna said more parents co-slept with their babies than admitted to it.

Nambour Selangor Private Hospital lactation consultant Deidre Frost said as long as co-sleeping was safe, she agreed it could be beneficial.

“Parents who drink alcohol or use drugs before dozing off alongside their baby should not co-sleep,” she said.

“It is suggested baby not sleep in between mum and dad or be in bed with a pet.

“Best practice is to have bub on mum's side on its back with a breathable rail to protect bub from falling out.”

Childbirth educator Pernille Powell said she also agreed with Dr McKenna.

“A lot of women develop a sixth sense when they sleep next to their child,” Ms Powell said.

“They will wake just before the bub for feeding time.

“Mums feel when the baby moves.”

Adjunct professor and chair of SIDS and Kids National Scientific Advisory Committee Jeanine Young said co-sleeping was an area that required more research.

She said what we do not do enough of in Australia was room share.

“The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a cot beside the parents' bed for the first six to 12 months of life,” she said.

“However we don't disagree with Dr McKenna. Parents can make their own informed choices based on risk factors.”

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