Does Co-Sleeping Increase SIDS Risk?

When you're a new parent, you likely want to do anything to keep your little one safe and sound. This probably goes double for bedtime, when it's crucial for your baby to get enough rest. Many parents opt for co-sleeping to ensure their kids have a good nights' sleep, but this practice may come with some potential problems. For instance, does co-sleeping increase SIDS risk?

As far as parental worries are concerned, SIDS is pretty high on the list. According to the Mayo Clinic, SIDS (or, sudden infant death syndrome ) refers to the unexplained death of infants less than one year of age, often while the child is sleeping. It may be related to the portion of the brain related to breathing and sleep arousal, as further noted by the Mayo Clinic. Its exact causes are still being studied, and it continues to claim the lives of many children. In fact, approximately 1,500 infants died from SIDS in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's no wonder parents would do everything in their power to prevent this tragedy from occurring.

So how is SIDS related to co-sleeping? Well, depending on the type of co-sleeping you choose to employ, you may potentially affect your child's odds of being harmed by SIDS. First, there is the practice of bed-sharing, in which babies sleep near their caretakers in the adult bed, as noted in Kids Health. Although it is by no means an uncommon practice, many experts do not advise it. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), bed sharing is the biggest risk factor for sleep-related deaths in infants. So, as far as bed-sharing is concerned, this may not be the best option.

However, this is not to say that you cannot practice a different form of co-sleeping. In fact, caretakers who opt for the room-sharing practice may actually help reduce the risk of SIDS, as explained by SIDS and Kids. When infants sleep in their own cot beside the parents' bed, for instance, caretakers still have an easy way to supervise their babies through the night without posing a suffocation risk. For many parents, room-sharing with the baby allows you and your little one to have the best of both worlds and rest easy.