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Sleep Easy

What's your advice on bedsharing?

A: 

There is no right answer to the questions surrounding bed-sharing. From your baby's point of view, there's no doubt shell be happy if you invite her into your bed. If you don't, however, she wont take it too personally, and she will get used to sleeping in her bassinet. So, the choice is yours.

Extensive research on bed-sharing's long-term benefits, such as increased intelligence and emotional well-being, has failed to yield conclusive results so far. Based on my personal observations as a doctor, whether you bed-share or not doesn't make a difference in the long run, the little guys who sleep in bassinets are just as intelligent and emotionally well-developed as those who share their parents bed for the first few years.

One of the big advantages of sharing your bed with your baby is that you'll be able to get some rest while nursing. When the baby is hungry, all you have to do is roll over on your side and nurse. The alternative is exhausting: You get up,retrieve her from the crib, feed her in a rocking chair, rub her back for a few minutes, then put her back in bed. Repeat that routine a few times a night, and just watch those circles under your eyes darken.

In terms of safety, sharing a bed is controversial. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)recently advised pediatricians to discourage parents from bed-sharing because of a potential increased risk of SIDS and suffocation. Yet mammals have slept with their babies since the dawn of evolution. And as a father, I remember being keenly aware of that little presence when our kids slept with us. My feeling is bed-sharing is perfectly safe and enjoyable, barring such extenuating circumstances as alcohol or drug use, extremely heavy sleep or anything else that would impair your ability to sense a newborn.

If you cant decide, consider using a bassinet that fits alongside your mattress: Your baby will stay close to you for easy feedings, and you can roll her back into her own little bed when she's done. The AAP supports the use of these bassinets; I'm just not sure it should come down so hard on all parents bed-sharing.