Jul 16, 2014 3:00 PM

Author: Office of Public Affairs


Cuddling up for a nap may seem like a good idea, but sharing a bed with your baby could be deadly.

A new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics has determined the leading risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The No. 1 danger for babies from birth to three months is bed-sharing. For babies ages 4 months to 364 days, objects in their sleep environment present the biggest risk.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, examined 8,207 cases of sleep-related infant death in 24 states in 2004–12.

Researchers found that a higher percentage of younger infants died as a result of sharing a bed with an adult. In contrast, deaths of older babies were more often a result of rolling into an object such as a crib bumper, stuffed animal or blanket.

Cynthia L. Gellner, MD, a board-certified pediatrician with University of Utah Health, explains why bed-sharing is a bigger risk for newborns: “Parents, especially those who are deep sleepers, have sleep disorders, or smoke or drink, are more likely to accidentally roll over on their tiniest of infants and suffocate them without waking up and realizing what happened.”

Gellner notes that babies can become wedged between a mattress and a headboard because they are so small. Too much bedding in an adult bed is also dangerous. 

Despite the risk, 15% of parents practice co-sleeping, Gellner estimates. If you want to sleep with your baby, she recommends placing a bassinet or co-sleeper next to your bed.

Also, follow these safe-baby sleeping tips:

    • Place a baby on its back to sleep.
    • Never place objects in the crib.
    • Never let a baby sleep alone in an adult’s bed.

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