Parents and babies should sleep in same bed, says doctor

Previous studies have found that the risk of sudden infant death increases with co-sleeping

A doctor has claimed that it is healthy for mothers to sleep in the same bed as their babies, contradicting medical convention.

Paediatrician Dr Nils Bergman says that the practice is beneficial for the health of the infant's heart, sleep quality and for parent-child bonding.

A study conducted by Dr Bergman, of Kangaroo Mother Care in South Africa, monitored the sleep of 16 infants. It found that while in a cot, their hearts were under three times as much stress as when sleeping on their mother's chest, The Sun reports. 

The study also found that the infants slept less deeply when in a cot away from their mothers.

The suggestions go against traditional advice for parents, following numerous studies which have found the risk of sudden infant death increases when co-sleeping occurs.  

A recent study by Per Möllborg of the University of Gothenberg found that "more lives could potentially be saved if fewer babies slept on their stomachs or were placed on their sides, if fewer mothers smoked during pregnancy and if infants slept in their own beds in their parents’ bedroom during the first three months.”

However, Dr Bergman said to The Sun: "When babies are smothered and suffer cot deaths, it is not because their mother is present. It is because of other things: toxic fumes, cigarettes, alcohol, big pillows and dangerous toys."

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Dr Nils Bergman

Dr Bergman is a campaigner for close parental contact with children.  

"Parents must be present [to babies]," he said to Unicef.

"There is research that shows that they do not need to do anything at all, their mere presence in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit improves outcomes, with a dose response."

"But they can also, and should, do skin-to-skin contact. This is the biologically expected environment for newborns."

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