Feature Archive

A Separate Bed For Baby

The government weights in on dangers of sleeping with baby.

WebMD Feature As parents, Meg McLean and Lee Sherline of Baltimore are constantly discussing how to care for "Little Lee," the newest member of their family. Deciding where Little Lee sleeps, for example, is not as simple as it might seem.

"He sleeps in the crib next to the bed, but Meg brings him into bed to nurse him," Sherline explains. He suspects that, as with daughter Mara, the habit will eventually evolve into Little Lee sharing the bed with his parents. "Mara slept with us until she stopped nursing," says Sherline.

Study Discourages Bed-Sharing

But things have changed since two-year-old Mara was the baby of the house. Now the federal government is weighing in on the issue. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), any child under the age of two should not sleep in an adult bed. The result could be deadly, says a study published by CPSC researchers in the October 1999 issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

After looking at more than 500 infant deaths that took place over an eight-year period, the researchers concluded that placing children younger than two years to sleep in adult beds exposes them to the following potentially fatal hazards:

  • Overlaying by a parent, sibling or other adult sharing the bed
  • Entrapment or wedging between the mattress and another object
  • Head entrapment in bed railings
  • Suffocation on waterbeds