Does bed-sharing increase the risk of SIDS? If you breastfeed, new study says no

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[Editor's note: This article summarizes findings and recommendations of a recent study, and should not substitute the advice of a medical provider.]

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has been incredibly vocal about safe sleep, urging parents not to share a bed with their baby and to follow guidelines that will decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.

But a new report from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine states that the information we currently have on safe sleep may be more nuanced than we realize. The authors call for further research and more individualized counseling of parents.

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According to the study authors, when babies are breastfed in the home setting, and in the absence of other risk factors, current research does not find that bed-sharing increases the risk of SIDS. The study was co-authored by James McKenna, Ph.D., a professor who studies co-sleeping, and the director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame.

Study authors write that it's possible bed-sharing may be beneficial for exclusively breastfed babies in the prevention of SIDS. "When breastfeeding mothers sleep with their infants, they protect them from potential physiological stressors including airway covering and overheating by their characteristic sleep position (curled around their infants, making a constrained sleep space with their bodies), known as the C-position," they state. "Their continued vigilance through microarousals prompts regular infant arousals throughout the night."

Additionally, "compared with breastfeeding infants who sleep alone, breastsleeping infants spend less time in stages [three to four] (deep) sleep, and more time in stages [one to two] (lighter) sleep, facilitating rapid infant awakening and termination of apneas," they write, arguing this could result in a decreased risk of SIDS.

The study authors report that "Existing evidence does not support the conclusion that bed-sharing among breastfeeding infants (i.e., breastsleeping) causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the absence of known hazards."

They argue that the medical community needs to re-examine generalized recommendations on safe sleep because different factors—in this case, whether or not a baby is breastfed—can change the risk factor. "Recommendations concerning bed-sharing must take into account the mother's knowledge, beliefs, and preferences and acknowledge the known benefits as well as the risks."

SIDS is the sudden death of an infant under the age of one, with no immediate apparent cause—though sometimes accidental suffocation and strangulation are identified as the cause. Approximately 3,600 babies die each year in the United States from SIDS.

AAP suggests parents follow these safe sleep guidelines to prevent SIDS:

  1. Infants should sleep on their backs
  2. Infants should sleep on a firm sleep surface
  3. Breastfeeding is recommended
  4. Infants should sleep on their own sleep surface in the parents' room for the first six to 12 months of life
  5. Nothing in the cribs with babies, including blankets and other loose bedding, pillows, toys, and bumpers
  6. Pacifier may help
  7. Avoid cigarette smoke during pregnancy and around the baby
  8. Avoid alcohol and drug use during pregnancy
  9. Avoid overheating and head covering of infant
  10. Get regular prenatal care
  11. Infants should receive vaccines per AAP and Centers for Disease Control recommended timeline
  12. Do not use commercial devices that are inconsistent with sleep recommendations
  13. Avoid the use of at-home cardiorespiratory monitors unless designated by your pediatrician
  14. Use tummy time to strengthen baby's muscles

The AAP is very adamant that parents practice room-sharing, not bed-sharing.

However, McKenna's study and other breastsleeping advocates are arguing for two action items: More research and better education.

We need to learn more about SIDS in the presence and absence of specific variables so that we can counsel parents based on the specifics of their unique circumstances. "Larger studies with appropriate controls are needed to understand the relationship between bed-sharing and infant deaths in the absence of known hazards at different ages," the researchers notes.

They argue that we need to teach people how to safely bedshare: "Despite decades of advice to avoid mother-infant sleep contact, researchers report that on any given night, 20–25% of U.S. and U.K. infants [less than three} months of age share a bed with a parent for sleep at least some of the nights, and [more than] 40% of infants in Western societies, in general, do so at some point in the first [three] months."

This means that regardless of intent, there is a good chance parents will fall asleep with their babies—that is why researchers continue to investigate the safest ways to do it.

According to the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory, guidelines for the safest possible bed-sharing are as follows:

  1. Prenatal care and avoidance of prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke
  2. Infants should always sleep on their backs
  3. Infants should sleep on a firm surface
  4. Avoid infant exposure to cigarette smoke
  5. Blankets on ed should be light, and their heads should never be covered.
  6. "The bed should not have any stuffed animals or pillows around the infant and never should an infant be placed to sleep on top of a pillow or otherwise soft bedding."
  7. "Sheepskins or other fluffy material and especially beanbag mattresses should never be used with infants. Waterbeds can be especially dangerous to infants too, and no matter the type of mattress, it should always tightly intersect the bed-frame to leave no gaps or space."
  8. "Infants should never sleep on couches or sofas with or without adults as they can slip down (face first) into the crevice or get wedged against the back of a couch where they may suffocate."
  9. Bottle-fed babies should not bedshare
  10. If there are two parents in the bed, "both parents should agree and feel comfortable with the decision. Each bed-sharer should agree that he or she is equally responsible for the infant and acknowledge before sleeping that they are aware that the infant is present in the bed space. Do not place an infant in the bed with a sleeping adult who is not aware that the infant is in the bed with them."
  11. Infants should not sleep with other children in the bed
  12. bed-sharing should not take place if either adult is "taking sedatives, medications or drugs, or intoxicated from alcohol or other substances, or otherwise excessively unable to arouse easily from sleep."
  13. If either adult has very long hair, it should be tied up to prevent infant entanglement around the infant's neck.
  14. "Extremely obese persons or others who may have difficulty feeling where exactly or how close their infant is in relation to their own body may wish to have the infant sleep alongside but on a different surface, such as a cosleeper attachment."

Lastly, they state, "it may be important to consider or reflect on whether you would think that you suffocated your baby if, under the most unlikely scenario, your baby died from SIDS while in your bed. Just as babies can die from SIDS in a risk-free solitary sleep environment, it remains possible for a baby to die in a risk-free co-sleeping/bed-sharing environment." In other words, they want parents to know that no matter what protections are taken, SIDS can be a possibility—they ask you to consider what it would feel like if it happened while bed-sharing. "While this is an unpleasant and uncomfortable topic, it is one that is worth thinking about before you choose to co-sleep/bed-share with your infant."

So what does this mean for you, mama?

Do your research and speak with your child's pediatrician. Our lives are incredibly complex, and there are thousands of factors that contribute to the parenting decisions we make (and the choices we have to begin with). I absolutely advise adhering to safe sleep practices—the really tricky part is that experts disagree on what that means entirely. So, schedule a conversation with your provider and other experts to discuss what's on your mind.

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When we buy baby gear we expect it to be safe, and while no parent wants to hear that their gear is being recalled we appreciate when those recalls happen as a preventative measure—before a baby gets hurt.

That's the case with the recent recall of Baby Trend's Tango Mini Stroller. No injuries have been reported but the recall was issued because a problem with the hinge joints mean the stroller can collapse with a child in it, which poses a fall risk.

"As part of our rigorous process, we recently identified a potential safety issue. Since we strongly stand by our safety priority, we have decided to voluntarily recall certain models of the Tango Mini Strollers. The recalled models, under excessive pressure, both hinge joints could release, allowing the stroller to collapse and pose a fall hazard to children. Most importantly, Baby Trend has received NO reports of injuries," the company states on its website.

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The strollers were sold through Amazon and Target in October and November 2019 and cost between $100 and $120. If you've got one you should stop using it and contact Baby Trend for a refund or replacement.

Four models are impacted by this recall:

  • Quartz Pink (Model Number ST31D09A)
  • Sedona Gray (Model Number ST31D10A)
  • Jet Black (Model Number ST31D11A)
  • Purest Blue (Model Number ST31D03A

"If you determine that you own one of these specific model numbers please stop using the product and contact Baby Trend's customer service at 1-800-328-7363 or via email at info@babytrend.com," Baby Trend states.

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[Editor's note: While Motherly loves seeing and sharing photos of baby Archie and other adorable babies when the images are shared with their parents' consent, we do not publish pictures taken without a parent's consent. Since these pictures were taken without Markle's permission while she was walking her dogs, we're not reposting them.]

Meghan Markle is a trendsetter for sure. When she wears something the world notices, and this week she was photographed wearing her son Archie in a baby carrier. The important thing to know about the photos is that they show the Duchess out for a walk with her two dogs while wearing Archie in a blue Ergo. She's not hands-free baby wearing, but rather wearing an Ergo while also supporting Archie with her arm, as the carrier isn't completely tight.

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When British tabloids published the pictures many babywearing devotees and internet commenters offered opinions on how Markle is holding her son in the photo, but as baby gear guru Jamie Grayson notes, "it is none of our business."

In a post to his Facebook page, Grayson (noted NYC baby gear expert) explained that in the last day or so he has been inundated with hundreds of messages about how Markle is wearing the carrier, and that while he's sure many who messaged with concerns had good intentions he hopes to inject some empathy into the conversation.

As Grayson points out, these are paparazzi photos, so it was a private moment not meant for world-wide consumption. "This woman has the entire world watching her every move and action, especially now that she and Harry are leaving the umbrella of the royal family, and I honestly hope they are able to find some privacy and peace. So let's give her space," he explains, adding that "while those pictures show something that is less than ideal, it's going to be okay. I promise. It's not like she's wearing the baby upside down."

He's right, Archie was safe and not in danger and who knows why the straps on Markle's carrier were loose (maybe she realized people were about to take pictures and so she switched Archie from forward-facing, or maybe the strap just slipped.)

Grayson continues: "When you are bringing up how a parent is misusing a product (either in-person or online) please consider your words. Because tone of voice is missing in text, it is important to choose your words carefully because ANYTHING can be misconstrued. Your good intentions can easily be considered as shaming someone."

Grayson's suggestions injected some much-needed empathy into this discourse and reminded many that new parents are human beings who are just trying to do their best with responsibilities (and baby gear) that isn't familiar to them.

Babywearing has a ton of benefits for parents and the baby, but it can take some getting used to. New parents can research safety recommendations so they feel confident. In Canada, where the pictures in question were snapped, the government recommends parents follow these safety guidelines when wearing infants in carriers:

  • Choose a product that fits you and your baby properly.
  • Be very careful putting a baby into—or pulling them out of—a carrier or sling. Ask for help if you need it.
  • When wearing a carrier or sling, do not zip up your coat around the baby because it increases the risk of overheating and suffocation.
  • Be particularly careful when using a sling or carrier with babies under 4 months because their airways are still developing.
  • Do not use a carrier or sling during activities that could lead to injury such as cooking, running, cycling, or drinking hot beverages.

Health Canada also recommends parents "remember to keep your baby visible and kissable at all times" and offers the following tips to ensure kissability.

"Keep the baby's face in view. Keep the baby in an upright position. Make sure the baby's face is not pressed into the fabric of the carrier or sling, your body, or clothing. Make sure the baby's chin is not pressed into their chest. Make sure the baby's legs are not bunched up against their stomach, as this can also restrict breathing. Wear the baby snug enough to support their back and hold onto the baby when bending over so they don't fall out of the carrier or sling. Check your baby often."

Meghan Markle is a new mom who was caught off guard during a moment she didn't expect her baby to be photographed. Every parent (no matter how famous) has a right to privacy for their child and the right to compassion from other parents. If we want people to learn how to safely babywear we can't shame them for trying.

Mama, if you've been shamed for wearing your baby "wrong" don't feel like you need to stop. Follow the tips above or check in with local baby-wearing groups to get advice and help. You've got this.

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At one of the most important nights of their career, celebrities made sure their hairstyles stayed put at the 26th Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. As a collective, the hairstyles were beautiful—french twists, bobs, pin curls and killer cuts filled the red carpet on the night to remember.

And surprisingly, the secret wasn't just the stylist team, mama. For many of the celebs, much of the look can be attributed to a $5 hairspray—yes, you read that correctly.

Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray was one of the top stylist picks for celebs for a lightweight, flexible finishing spray, leaving tons of body and bounce. Unlike most hairsprays that can take several minutes (even a half hour) to set the look, this extra-hold one contains a fast-drying, water-free formula that helps protect your hair from frizz in minutes. As a result, celebrities were able to hold the shape of their styles with mega volume.

"Dove hairspray works well by holding curls in place with maximum hold and ultra shine, while still maintaining soft, touchable texture that is easy to brush out," says Dennis Gots for Dove Hair, who styled Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the SAG Awards. Translation: It's great for on-the-go mamas who want a shiny hold that lasts, but doesn't feel sticky.

Here are a few awesome hairstyles that were finished with the drugstore Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray at the SAG awards:

Lili Reinhart's French twist

"I sprayed Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray all over Lili's hair to lock in the shape and boost the shine factor, making the whole look really sleek," says stylist Renato Campora who was inspired to create the look by Reinhart's romantic gown. "Lili's look is sleek and sharp with a romantic twist."

Cynthia Erivo's finger waves

"This look is classic Cynthia! I knew I wanted to keep it simple, but it's actually quite detailed and intricate up close," says stylist Coree Moreno. "While the hair was still wet (yes—I needed to work fast!) I generously spritzed on the hairspray for all night hold without flaking. The hair continued to air dry perfectly while she finished up makeup."

Nathalie Emmanuel's curly high pony

"Nathalie wanted a retro Hollywood glam for the SAG Awards, so I used her natural texture and created a high pony with loose tendrils framing her face and neckline," says stylist, Neeko. "I finessed the look with the hairspray to lock in the style while keeping her hair looking and feeling touchable."

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's slicked back bob

"I used duckbill clips on different areas of her hair to keep the shape and curl while the hair air dried. Air drying the hair allowed for maximum shine and then I sprayed lots of hairspray all over to truly lock in the sleek shape and enhance the shine," says stylist Dennis Gots, who was inspired by a 90s vibe for Waller-Bridge's look.

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We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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We often think of the unequal gender division of unpaid labor as a personal issue, but a new report by Oxfam proves that it is a global issue—and that a handful of men are becoming incredibly wealthy while women and girls bear the burden of unpaid work and poverty.

According to Oxfam, the unpaid care work done by women and girls has an economic value of $10.8 trillion per year and benefits the global economy three times more than the entire technology industry.

"Women are supporting the market economy with cheap and free labor and they are also supporting the state by providing care that should be provided by the public sector," the report notes.

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The unpaid work of hundreds of millions of women is generating massive wealth for a couple of thousand (predominantly male) billionaires. "What is clear is that this unpaid work is fueling a sexist economic system that takes from the many and puts money in the pockets of the few," the report states.

Max Lawson is Oxfam International's Head of Inequality Policy. In an interview with Vatican News, he explained that "the foundation of unpaid work done by the poorest women generates enormous wealth for the economy," and that women do billions of hours of unpaid care work (caring for children, the sick, the elderly and cooking, cleaning) for which they see no financial reward but which creates financial rewards for billionaires.

Indeed, the report finds that globally 42% of women can't work for money because of their unpaid care responsibilities.

In the United States, women spend 37% more time doing unpaid care work than men, Oxfam America notes in a second report released in cooperation with the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

"It's an economy that is built on the backs of women and of poor women and their labour, whether it's poorly paid labour or even unpaid labour, it is a sexist economy and it's a broken economy, and you can only fix the gap between the rich and the poor if at the same time you fix the gap between women and men," Lawson explains.

According to Lawson, you can't fight economic inequality without fighting gender equality, and he says 2020 is the year to do both. Now is a great time to start, because as Motherly has previously reported, no country in the world is on track to eliminate gender inequality by 2030 (one of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 193 United Nations member countries back in 2015) and no country will until the unpaid labor of women and girls is addressed.

"Governments around the world can, and must, build a human economy that is feminist and benefits the 99%, not only the 1%," the Oxfam report concludes.

The research suggests that paid leave, investments in childcare and the care of older adults and people with disabilities as well as utilizing technology to make working more flexible would help America close the gap.

(For more information on how you can fight for paid leave, affordable childcare and more this year check out yearofthemother.org.)

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