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pecially nutritious if the mother’s diet is healthy, and breast milk is the only food experts agree the human body is unquestionably designed to consume.

Co-sleeping improves sleep. A mother that can breastfeed without leaving the bed will get more sleep. Also, more research from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows a lower incidence of sudden infant death syn- drome when breastfeeding is practiced. In the clinical experience of James McKenna, Ph.D., a University of Notre Dame professor and leading anthro- pologist in the field, “Breastfeeding mothers typically keep their babies away from pillows, positioning their infants on their backs, while placing them below the parents’ shoulders and raising their arms above them.” Plus, the adults “lay on their sides in ways that can prevent accidental overlays.”

Co-sleeping builds parent-child

bonds. Research published by the Sleep Research Society shows that mothers that co-sleep with their babies are more attuned to their sleep/wake habits and can respond quicker to their needs. According to the journal Alter- native Therapies in Health and Medi- cine, skin-to-skin touch increases the secretion of oxytocin, a bond-building hormone.

Co-sleeping fosters maturation. Studies in the Infant and Child Devel- opment journal show that kids that share a bed or sleep in the same room with their parents grow up to be more self-reliant and socially independent, better behaved, less anxious about intimacy as adults and more likely to be happy.

Parents that are nervous about sharing beds can try room sharing, where the baby sleeps in an adjoining crib or cot; family members will expe- rience many of the same benefits.

Mark Sisson is a former marathon run- ner and triathlete. He is the author of the bestselling health and fitness book, The Primal Blueprint, and publisher of the health blog,

Safe Co-Sleeping Habits by Mark Sisson

DON’T: 4 Don’t drink alcohol or take drugs that affect awareness and judgment. 4 Don’t smoke tobacco. The tars and toxins cling to an adult’s body, hair and

clothes, exposing the baby to dangerous chemicals that increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

4 Don’t co-sleep if the parent is sleep-deprived, a heavy sleeper, has sleep apnea or is obese.

4 Don’t allow pets or other children to sleep next to babies. 4 Don’t co-sleep on a sofa, loveseat or reclining chair. The cushions create crevices for infant heads to slip into and the elevation creates a fall risk. 4 Don’t use overly soft mattresses that babies can sink into. Think firm. 4 Don’t use thick bedding, which can cause rapid overheating or lead to smothering.

4 Don’t co-sleep unless everyone is on board. If a spouse isn’t agreeable, try a room share instead.

DO: 4 Provide a big enough bed to afford ample space for all co-sleepers. 4 Keep the mattress low or place it on the floor. 4 Eliminate all crevices that a baby might be able to fall into; push the mattress snug against one or more walls.

4 Use a firm mattress, a tight-fitting sheet and light bedding. 4 Place the baby on its back to sleep.

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