Many countries around the world encourage co-sleeping and breastfeeding. Why is the AAP out of step? It turns out that co-sleeping improves breastfeeding, more rest for mom, and happier babies. The only cautions are don’t do it if you a smoker or if you are drinking alcohol. Alcohol stupor prevents you from responding properly to the presence of the baby in your bed.
As states have adopted the AAP 2011 recommendations, the advice to never sleep with your baby has backfired in the worst possible way. Rather than preventing deaths, this advice is probably even increasing deaths. Included in 2009 study that the AAP even cited in its statement for other conclusions, parents of two SIDS babies who slept with their infant on a sofa did so because they had been advised against bringing their infants into bed but had not realized the dangers of sleeping on a sofa. In fact, deaths from SIDS in parental beds has halved in the UK from 1984-2004, but there has been a rise of deaths from cosleeping on sofas.
In contrast, medical authorities in Canada, Great Britain, and Australia have different messages than the American Academy of Pediatrics. They all acknowledge that most mothers do share a bed with their infant at least some of the time. If one chooses to bedshare, they educate the public on risks and on ways to markedly decrease the risk of infant death.
In addition, research shows that bedsharing facilitates breastfeeding and is associated with longer breastfeeding duration.
Breastfeeding mothers who try not to share a bed with their baby either end up giving up breastfeeding or bed share anyway. The nutritional content of human milk necessitates frequent feeding both day and night and frequent close contact.