Sharing bed with baby 'typical'

By Kiri Gillespie


The call for parents to stop sharing beds with their babies is not so simple in Tauranga with local health providers saying the habit is "very typical".

New research says babies who sleep in the same bed as their parents are five times more likely to die than those sleeping separately - even if the parents are non-smokers and have not taken drugs and alcohol.

Tauranga GP John Gemming said Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Sids) was "very clearly a risk" and people needed to recognise that.

"It's a bit like we know smoking kills, we know seatbelts save lives, we know having babies in bed dramatically increases the risk of that baby dying," Dr Gemming told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"Why would mothers choose to ignore these findings? I'm not aware of any valid reasons."

Dr Gemming said bed sharing was considered traditional but parents needed move on from this to help save lives.

Independent midwife Zoe Lo-Giacco said although she promoted the safety message around bed sharing, she understood why many mothers did it and it was "very typical" in Tauranga.

"I understand there have been tragedies around skin-to-skin bed sharing but babies have been in the womb for nine months.

"To take them from that environment and put them in a cold cot, on their back, and leave them to cry can be quite horrific for mum and baby," Ms Lo-Giacco said.

"It's not natural, mums can't do that, it's very difficult.

Ms Lo-Giacco said wahakura were the answer.

The tightly-woven flax baskets sit on the bed to allow bed sharing while also allowing the safe sleeping environment as bassinets.

Health services in Waikato, Hawkes Bay, Canterbury, Rotorua and Otara have taken part in a Pepi-pod Programme. Pepi-pods were similar to wahakura and provided the same bed-time safety for babies.

The University of Auckland research showed a five-fold increase in the risk of Sids, even if the parents did not smoke.

Bay of Plenty coroner Wallace Bain last week released his findings from an inquest into the death of a 2-month-old baby.

The baby slept between his parents tummy-down with his head resting on a tri-pillow every night. He died of positional asphyxia.

Mr Bain asked parents to avoid bed sharing because such deaths were "100 per cent preventable".

How can I protect my baby?

  • Have a smoke-free pregnancy and household.

  • Place babies on their back for sleeping.

  • Breast feed babies.

  • When asleep, clear baby's face and head free from hazards that can lead to suffocation.

  • Sleep with baby in your room for the first six months.

  • Ensure your baby sleeps in its own bed, especially if premature, born small or your family is not smoke free.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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