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Why Room Sharing Reduces SIDS

The Government of Canada states in a joint statement  that infants who room share for at least 6 months have a lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  

This coincides with recommendations from the Canadian Paediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics for safe sleep. 

Our daughter Madi stayed in our room until she was almost a year of age. Our son George is 4 months old and we will likely move him into his own room at 6 months of age.

What is SIDS?

SIDS is defined as the sudden death of an infant under 1 year of age and cause of death remains unexplained.  

The cause of SIDS is unknown.  It is felt to be multifactorial – genetic, metabolic and environmental factors may all play a role.  

It can occur in the first year of life, most commonly between 2-4 months of age.  SIDS cases decrease after 6 months of age.  

Room Sharing Without Bed Sharing

The safest place for an infant to sleep is in their parent’s room.  But they should sleep on their own sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet.  Infants should not sleep in a bed or sofa with their parents.  It has been found that sleeping with an infant on a sofa or other cushioned chair has an extremely high risk of infant death.

Room sharing but not bed sharing can decrease the risk of SIDS by up to 50%. 

Room sharing is recommended for at least 6 months, when the SIDS risk is the highest.  Ideally babies room share for 1 year.  However the optimal duration of room sharing is not clearly established.  

Room sharing encourages frequent monitoring, comforting, and supports breastfeeding.

This post was co-authored by Erin Manchuk, BScPharm, BCGP and Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc.

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