INFANT MORTALITY; Smarter Baby Bonding

Article excerpt

There are few moments in life as special for parents as bonding with a new baby.

So it's sad to hear that a common place to bond can also be one of the most dangerous.

Bed-sharing is defined as an infant sleeping in the same bed with an adult or another child.

Many generations have found it to be a comfortable place to feed, soothe and snuggle with babies.

And during months of sleep-deprived nights, parents often say it helps them keep a watchful eye.

Parents also see it as a chance for siblings to bond more quickly.

But a recent talk by national expert Fern Hauck shed light on serious concerns with bed-sharing.

The previous decade saw an increase in bed-sharing all night from 6 percent to 13 percent, according to the National Infant Sleep Position Survey of 2003.

The reasons it's so risky include exposing infants to overheating, as well as soft materials that could smother them, Hauck said.

It also sets the stage for entrapment between the bed or headboard and wall, or between the bed and nearby furniture.

It's not all bad news, though.

Instead of sharing a bed, babies can share a room by placing the crib within arm's reach of a parent's bed.

Room-sharing is associated with a 50 percent lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome, said Hauck, an associate professor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlotte, Va.

That's especially important since, in the past six years, SIDS has claimed 134 babies before the age of 1 in the five-county area, according to the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition. …