Throughout the history of the world, mothers have known that the safest place for a baby to sleep is snuggled next to them. However, with the invention of pillow top mattresses and lots of fluffy bedding, suddenly it isn't so safe any more. In fact the American Academy of Pediatrics says the safest place for an infant to sleep is in a separate but proximate sleep environment. So are moms who snuggle with baby in bed actually putting baby at risk?
The answer is complicated. Noted pediatrician Dr. William Sears has some very interesting observations about the matter. Dr. James McKenna heads the Notre Dame Mother Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory. As a biological anthropologist, he has devoted years of research to the effects of co-sleeping on mother and baby. It's no coincidence that so many mothers say their favorite time of day with baby is when they're snuggling in bed. There are numerous health advantages to the infant from sleeping close to its mother. However, parents benefit as well.
So am I recommending that all parents bring baby to bed with them? Absolutely not!! Dr. McKenna has some important safe co-sleeping guidelines that parents need to read if they're contemplating having baby in the same bed. Many mothers really don't feel comfortable having baby sleep all night in the same bed; those mothers can benefit tremendously from the Arm's Reach Co-sleeper which allows baby to sleep right next to mother without being in the same bed.
Regardless of how you choose to sleep, remember that those sweet baby snuggles are priceless, and pretty soon your baby will be a toddler who is way too busy for long snuggles!