Bed-sharing with infants in a time of SIDS awareness

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Neonatal, Paediatric and Child Health Nursing, 2012, 15 (2), pp. 3 - 7
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Objective Risks associated with maternal-infant bed-sharing are widely documented and promoted. This study aims to examine sleep patterns and strategies including bed-sharing. Methods Women aged over 18 who have infants aged up to 24 months were eligible to participate in an anonymous online questionnaire in March 2010. A representative sample of 1,000 respondents was randomly selected from a total sample of 2000. Results The challenge of facilitating infant sleeping was highlighted, with 92% of respondents having difficulties at some point. Almost all (97%) felt sleep-deprived at some time, with almost half reporting that they were always or regularly deprived of sleep. Sleep deprivation exacerbated exhaustion or feeling run down (75%), irritability (70%), made mothers less patient with their infants (63%) and put additional strain on their relationship with their partner (37%). Strategies to facilitate infant sleeping included rocking and patting (50%), giving a dummy/comforter (46%) and allowing the baby to fall asleep in their arms (47%) or after feeding (45%). Just under half (41%) utilised bed-sharing as a sleep strategy at night. Bed-sharing was more likely to be used if babies experienced frequent waking at night and unstable sleep patterns. Conclusions Maternal-infant bed-sharing continues to be an infant sleep strategy used by mothers, despite the risks involved. Implications This study highlights that mothers still continue to bed-share despite preventative health campaigns and the known risks. Thus, health promotion should be modified to include a stronger emphasis on risk minimisation strategies.
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