I recently attended the International Lactation Consultant Association Convention in Orlando. We heard several presentations dealing with infant sleep.
Moms Need Sleep!
Helen Ball, an anthropologist at Durham University in England spoke about the normalcy of infant/parent shared sleep. In a recent study she and her partners evaluated the amount of sleep mothers got based on where their infants slept. Some infants slept in their mothers' beds. Some slept in cots attached to their mother's beds, and some slept in traditional separate cribs. The mothers whose infants slept in the cots attached to the mothers' beds got the most sleep. The mothers of infants whose babies were in their beds got almost as much sleep, and those whose infants were in traditional cribs got the least sleep.
Depressed Moms Really Need Sleep!
Another fascinating speaker was Kathleen Kendall-Tackett a Clinical Psychologist who is a professor at Texas Tech University School of Medicine in Amarillo. She spoke about recent advice given to mothers suffering from post-partum depression that they get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. Some experts say that they should be separated from their infants at night in order to ensure proper rest.
She highlighted research, however, that indicates such separation actually makes the situation worse for the mother suffering from PPD. When these mothers have ready access to their infants in a co-sleeping situation, they actually get more rest! A wonderful solution for such a mother might be an Arm's Reach Co-sleeper.
Sleep Where You Sleep Best...But Be Close
Ultimately mothers and babies need to sleep where they sleep best. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep in a "separate bur proximate environment." Researchers from a variety of venues have demonstrated both the safety and the benefits of mothers and babies sleeping together whether it be in the same bed or in a co-sleeper attached to mom's bed. So each mother must decide for herself where she and her baby sleep best!