Byron Bay mum Aloma Raez with daughter Maya, 2. Aloma said she did not co-sleep with her daughter a baby, but has since used it as a technique to settle Maya and help them both get a good night's sleep.
Byron Bay mum Aloma Raez with daughter Maya, 2. Aloma said she did not co-sleep with her daughter a baby, but has since used it as a technique to settle Maya and help them both get a good night's sleep. Kate O'Neill

Nap time no child's play

CO-SLEEPING. Some parents swear by it, saying it produces more settled babies, greater bonding and more well-rounded children.

For others, the thought of sharing their bed with a wriggling infant is a nightmare, disturbing the sleep of everyone and making for a non-existent sex life.

Medical opinion is also divided. Groups like SIDS and Kids recommend against it, while others say safe co-sleeping can be rewarding for both parents and babies.

University of Adelaide Professor Roger Byard joined the debate in The Medical Journal of Australia this week, arguing families should be better informed about the risks of co-sleeping, not only in terms of SIDS, but of accidental suffocation.

"It has been reported that 50% or more of infants who are found unexpectedly dead are sleeping with an adult," he wrote.

He said some babies were particularly vulnerable to suffocation and without a way to identify these children, it could only be said that some babies were put at an inherently increased risk by co-sleeping.

Some parents were also at risk of failing to wake if they rolled onto their babies, including overly tired or sedated parents, those who drank alcohol, smoked or took drugs.

Byron Bay mother-of-three Nekah Verlinden said she co-slept with all of her three children, now aged 22, 15 and 11, as it made breastfeeding more convenient and felt 'natural'.

She was aware of the debate, but said she was conscious and sensible, did not drink or smoke and had chosen co-sleeping to be close to her children.

General medical advice is that the safest place for a baby is in a cot next to the parent's bed.


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