Arms Reach® FAQs
Co-sleeping in the context of infant care practices refers to any situation in which the infant sleeps close, within sensory range, of a committed caregiver permitting each (the infant and caregiver) to detect and respond to the sensory signals and cues of the other (smells, whisperings, movements, sounds, touches, heat (for details and explanation see (downloadable from this website) McKenna et al 1993; Mother-Infant Cosleeping: Toward a New Scientific Beginning, by James J. McKenna and Sarah Mosko. Ch. 16 in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Puzzles, Problems and Possibilities. R. Byard and H. Krous, eds. London: Arnold Publishers, 2001.or McKenna et al 2007).
Mother-infant cosleeping with breastfeeding is humankind’s oldest and most successful sleeping arrangement. Cosleeping remains a cross-cultural human universal, a species-wide behavior, an expectable and physiologically normal sleeping arrangement likely designed by natural selection to maximize infant survival and well-being. Only in a relatively few select cultures (Western, industrialized societies) have infants ever slept outside the company and presence of their breastfeeding mothers. The adoption of the prone infant sleep position, bottle rather than breast feeding, and infants sleeping separate from their parents each proved to be independent risks for SIDS meaning…the dismantling of the human pattern of back sleep, with breastfeeding, with sleeping next to others caused the “SIDS” epidemic…unique to the Western world..and a loss of possibly as many as 600,000 babies. Lets never forget that.
By the way, keep in mind that infants do not have to be in the same bed in order to “cosleep”, as a bassinet next to the bed, or a crib, where baby and mother or father are within range of detecting each others signals and cues is all that is necessary. Separate surface cosleeping of this variety is recommended by all.
As regards sleep products I recommend “ArmsReach Cosleeper (http://www.armsreach.com/) which is a bedside bassinet” which attaches to the parents bed but provides a separate sleep space for the infant. I don’t usually recommend products but I sure recommend this product and have since I started researching the risks of SIDS and the importance of breastfeeding. The ArmsReach Cosleeper attaches tightly and firmly to the parental bed by way of a tight cord, pulling it to the bed, preventing gaps, or movement of the bassinet away from the bed, and has a small drop of about four inches to the mattress that permits infant separation but only slight, four inches down from the adult mattress as the baby sleeps in its own “nest”. The bassinet has a rail facing the side of the adult bed (see photo on my homepage) preventing a parents body (or blankets or mother’s limbs) from drooping over the infant, that could represent a potential risk.
The really good news is that over a million of these bassinets have been sold over the last fifteen to twenty years without one infant dying or being injured! There is no crib I can think of that has this safety record. The ArmsReach Cosleeper is, as it turns out, is about as safe as safe can be. And that’s why I so enthusiastically and proudly recommend them.
Do recall that cosleeping with an infant on a couch, recliner, or sofa, though also forms of cosleeping are, however, dangerous and should be avoided as they increase the chances of suffocation, regardless of sobriety.
*Dr. Gettler and myself have a recent paper reviewing the whole concept of “cosleeping” from a biological and present, cultural, perspective. See Gettler LT, McKenna JJ. in press. Cosleeping. Barrett D, McNamara P, (eds) The Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC/CLIO Press.