Parents sharing a bed with their baby increases the risk of infant suffocation, according to University of Adelaide forensic pathologist Professor Roger Byard.
According to the Australian expert, half of unexplained infant deaths occur while sleeping with parents indicating that the babies may have died from accidental suffocation and not sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Byard said, "It is generally agreed that in Western cultures, the safest place for an infant is in a cot that meets recommended safety features and is positioned beside the caregiver's bed."
However, some parents feel that sleeping with their baby could help settle them down to sleep, encourage breastfeeding and promote parental-infant bonds. But Prof. Byard said, "The risks far outweighed any of the perceived gains. Parents needed to be better educated about risk factors for accidental asphyxiation in shared-sleeping arrangements."