Viral: PSA Warns Mothers of Sleeping With a Baby, But There’s Controversy

March 5, 2016 Updated: August 9, 2017
FONT BFONT SText size

A public service announcement was released by the city of Bothell, Washington, has drawn viral attention. The PSA deals with why it’s not sometimes the best idea for mothers to sleep with their babies (its assertions are obviously controversial, and you see one doctor’s rebuttal down below).

In the video, a woman is seen rolling around on the bed and shifting positions. After that, she brings her baby in to sleep with her, and this message appears on the screen: “Still Think Sleeping With Your Baby Is A Good Idea?”

The PSA is trying to curb the deaths related to sudden infant death syndrome, known as SIDS. KidsHealth says that SIDS is the top cause of death for babies under the age of 1 year old. Most of the deaths are associated with sleeping. According to the PSA, when a very young child sleeps with an adult, it risks suffocation or strangulation via pillows and blankets. SIDS “claims the lives of about 2,500 each year in the United States,” says KidsHealth, but it stipulates: “It remains unpredictable despite years of research.”

One popular doctor says that the PSA and warnings about sleeping with your baby are overblown.

However, one popular doctor says that the PSA and warnings about sleeping with your baby are overblown, and those findings need a “legitimate survey” first.

“I do support the USCPSC’s efforts to research sleep safety and to decrease the incidence of SIDS, but I feel they should go about it differently. Instead of launching a national campaign to discourage parents from sleeping with their infants, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission should educate parents on how to sleep safely with their infants if they choose to do so,” according to Dr. William Sears.

According to the site, he adds:

  • Take precautions to prevent baby from rolling out of bed, even though it is unlikely when baby is sleeping next to mother. Like heat-seeking missiles, babies automatically gravitate toward a warm body. Yet, to be safe, place baby between mother and a guardrail or push the mattress flush against the wall and position baby between mother and the wall. Guardrails enclosed with plastic mesh are safer than those with slats, which can entrap baby’s limbs or head. Be sure the guardrail is flush against the mattress so there is no crevice that baby could sink into.
  • Place baby adjacent to mother, rather than between mother and father. Mothers we have interviewed on the subject of sharing sleep feel they are so physically and mentally aware of their baby’s presence even while sleeping, that it’s extremely unlikely they would roll over onto their baby. Some fathers, on the other hand, may not enjoy the same sensitivity of baby’s presence while asleep; so it is possible they might roll over on or throw out an arm onto baby. After a few months of sleep-sharing, most dads seem to develop a keen awareness of their baby’s presence.
  • Place baby to sleep on his back.
  • Use a large bed, preferably a queen-size or king-size. A king-size bed may wind up being your most useful piece of “baby furniture.” If you only have a cozy double bed, use the money that you would ordinarily spend on a fancy crib and other less necessary baby furniture and treat yourselves to a safe and comfortable king-size bed.
  • Some parents and babies sleep better if baby is still in touching and hearing distance, but not in the same bed. For them, a bedside co-sleeper is a safe option.