Suggesting that Fred may be coming round to the idea that we are actually about to become parents, he sent me a link to an article on the BBC showing that the risk of cot death increased five fold for babies that shared a bed with their parents.
The BMJ Open study compared 1,500 cases of cot death (or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome to give it its proper title) with 4,700 normal cases as a control.
The study found “Bed sharing risk decreased with increasing infant age. When neither parent smoked, and the baby was less than 3 months, breastfed and had no other risk factors, the adjusted odds ratio (AOT) for bed sharing versus room sharing was 5.1 (2.3 to 11.4) and estimated absolute risk for these room sharing infants was very low (0.08 (0.05 to 0.14)/1000 live- births). This increased to 0.23 (0.11 to 0.43)/1000 when bed sharing. Smoking and alcohol use greatly increased bed sharing risk.”
The advice seems to be that the safest place for a baby to sleep for the first six months (and definitely the first three months) is in its own crib in the same room as the parents.
Fred’s sudden fascination with sleeping arrangements was because he was worried that this study was suggesting that the ones we were planning were a bad idea. You see, since seeing Maria’s bedside cot I have been quite taken with the idea.
Basically, the idea of bedside cots (or co-sleepers if you are American) is that, as the name suggests, you have a cot beside your bed but the genius bit of it is that one of the sides is removable so that you have easy access to the baby at any time during the night.
These vary from those which actually attach to the bed like the Babybay Bedside Cot (£220)
To those with soft sides, like the NCT Bednest (£300):
And those which wheel themselves next to the bed and have more standard sides like the Geuther Aladin Co-Sleeper Bedside Cot (£265)
This seems like a great idea – both because the baby is close (so neurotic checking of breathing can be done more easily) and accessible, so I can just roll over, remove the cot side and hoick it towards me when it needs to be fed. This sounds like a much better plan than a separate cot, which would require me to actually leave the bed (have I explained how much I like my bed?).
I explained to Fred that bed-sharing meant actually sharing the bed, so the baby sleeps with you in your bed between you or next to one of you. And this seems from a logical perspective very different from sleeping in a separate cot beside the bed. The question is whether bedside cots are riskier than normal cots?
The Infant Sleep Information Source guidance is:
“A safe bed-side cot should fasten to the parents’ bed, or have locking wheels that prevent it from being accidentally moved away from the bed while the baby is in the cot. There should be no gap between the cot / crib and the bed. It should also include a detachable or moveable 4th wall that can be secured in place if the baby is left to sleep in the crib alone. It is desirable if the height of the cot/crib can be adjusted to match the height of the adult bed.”
Unfortunately, there simply doesn’t seem to be enough data to determine the safety or otherwise of the bedside cribs. There is talk of making sure it has its own flat and secure bedding, that no gap can appear between the adult bed and it (where the baby might get trapped), and that you can’t accidentally nudge the side down. There is also the question of whether they conform to the standard safety regulations for normal cots.
On the other hand, there seems to be growing opinion they might be safer insomuch as they prevent feeding (and potentially sleeping) occurring in less safe place like an armchair and help with mother / child bonding and generally better baby sleep habits.
As our flat is on two floors, we need two solutions – one for day sleeping and another for night sleeping. We could just use a moses basket during the day downstairs but that doesn’t seem as secure as a cot and I’d be worried about the cat finding a way to investigate. The treasure cot that has been in Fred’s family for generations is also an option next to the bed upstairs if we can find a mattress to fit it – although it may not exactly meet today’s safety standards!
I still like the idea of the bedside crib and it seems to have worked for Maria. But this just feels like another impossible choice in the pantheon of choices that may or may not be akin to sending your baby bungee jumping!