Infant Sleep, with Dr. James McKenna

There are so many opinions and judgments around how and where infants should sleep, that it can be hard to figure out what would work best for your family. How did we get here? What are an infant’s biological sleep needs? What risk factors should you consider when setting up the sleep environment? Is bedsharing as dangerous as we are led to believe? Dr. James McKenna has answers. Go listen.


Listen directly through our website player, or however you usually listen to podcasts.


What we talked about:

  • Why babies eat so darn often
  • Your baby, the contact seeker
  • What is breastsleeping?
  • The biological interchange and regulation between the sleeping infant and the breastfeeding parent
  • The ability to wake up in an instant
  • Conditions to consider for safer infant sleep
  • Where do current recommendations come from?
  • Babies: not as passive as you think
  • The right mindset for bedsharing
  • Bedsharing, SUIDS, and SIDS
  • Clarify the meaning of cosleeping, and its different arrangements
  • The problem with sleeping too long, too much, too hard
  • Bedsharing does not cause SIDS
  • What about the ABC recommendations of never cosleeping?
  • Why your baby is safer in your room
  • The importance of talking about bedsharing experiences to de-stigmatize bedsharing and get accurate numbers
  • The Academy of Breastfeeding protocols on bedsharing and breastfeeding
  • Supporting your informed choice
  • Waking more, but sleeping more
  • Things to consider for safe bedsharing
  • Things to consider for safe room sharing (and crib sleep)
  • How your child’s cognition affects sleep (and the so-called “regressions”)


Helpful resources & links*:


Related Birthful Episodes:


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About Dr. James J. McKenna

Courtesy of Dr. James McKenna

Dr. James J. McKenna directed the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame for 22 years–the first and only lab in the United States to study the physiology and behavior of cosleeping mothers and infants. He earned a Ph.D. in biological anthropology from the University of Oregon, Eugene, and is widely considered to be the leading authority on breastfeeding in relationship to SIDS and bedsharing safety.

Check out his newest book: Safe Infant Sleep: Expert Answers to Your Cosleeping Questions




Title music:Vibe Aceby Kevin MacLeod, from the Free Music Archive / CC BY (edited for length).

Sponsorship music:Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie, from the Free Music Archive / CC BY (edited for length).


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