Co-sleeping has been the topic of much debate for years, and with recent news of law makers channeling more of their attention to the subject, parents everywhere are wondering exactly what this means. All over the internet, forums and chat threads for mothers are lighting up with the question: Why is co-sleeping illegal in some places? And furthermore, what exactly does this mean? Since how and where you sleep is considered a person choice, parents are finding it hard to understand how legal entities have any say in this matter.
Some prosecutors are on a mission to make the practice of co-sleeping punishable by law. But it's not so much the act of sleeping with your baby that has moved these lawyers to action; it's the grim results that they feel need punishing. "An Indiana prosecutor has warned that co-sleeping is no longer merely a personal or familial choice; under current state law he can and will prosecute parents of babies who die while co-sleeping in his jurisdiction," Parents magazine reported. This same sentiment was heard by prosecutors in Delaware, Texas, and Utah where cases of parents being tried for co-sleeping have been ongoing.
The idea behind these prosecutors stance is that the threat of conviction will prohibit parents from bringing their babies in bed, there by lowering the risk for the child to die. As the website for Lawyers.com pointed out, "a person can be charged with manslaughter or criminal negligence for disregarding a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily harm." This is the measuring stick prosecutors are using to back up their cases against co-sleeping.
To further substantiate these claims, a study published in the journal Pediatrics reported that bed sharing was a risk factor in sleep-related infant deaths. However, the study did not touch on details such as prenatal smoking and alcohol consumption, which are both consider risk factors as well, according to the website for Today Health and Wellness. In Wisconsin, State Rep. Samantha Kerkman is drafting legislation to change laws covering co-sleeping deaths when a parent is under the influence, as a local Milwaukee ABC News station reported.
Although it may be inaccurate to call the act of co-sleeping "illegal," it seems to be the impression parents are under. Many co-sleeping parents follow strict safety rules when choosing this practice, and feel they should not be stopped from sleeping this way if they choose. For now, their right to make that choice is protected, but in the event they suffer the tragic outcome of a child death, the law may not be on their side.