Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping
by James J. McKenna

[2007, Washington, DC: Platypus Media, 128 pages, paperback.]

[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 86, Summer 2008, © 2008, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Danielle Kimball-Smith.]

I have shared the family bed with my daughter since she was born, believing that it was the best choice in my situation. James J. McKenna, a widely-recognized expert in co-sleeping, confirmed that belief in Sleeping with Your Baby. The book explains that shared sleep provides benefits to both parents and child, including promoting breastfeeding, increasing emotional security for the baby, and allowing the mother to provide an almost immediate response to the baby’s needs. This quick response helps the baby breathe more regularly, use energy more efficiently, grow faster and experience less stress.

McKenna responds with reassuring answers based on scientific data to frequently asked questions such as “Will co-sleeping get in the way of my child’s ability to be independent?” and “How long should I co-sleep with my child?” He also outlines the dos and don’ts of co-sleeping with a detailed list of situations when co-sleeping is not a safe choice. For most parents, co-sleeping is safe. It is not considered to be safe when the parent is obese, smokes, uses heavy bedding or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if there is a space between the bed and the wall or headboard where the baby could become trapped.

Sleeping with Your Baby strengthened my resolve to co-sleep with my daughter. I believe that we have had more sleep than we would have gotten apart. I am glad that she doesn’t have to get stressed out at night by crying when she is hungry. Instead she just starts to move around, which wakes me up to allow her to latch on and then we can both go back to sleep.

Reviewer Danielle Kimball-Smith is a 30-year-old, stay-at-home mom who is passionate about natural childbirth and attachment parenting. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, with her husband, nine-month-old daughter and two cats.

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