Infant sleep is a complex and multi-faceted topic that has been the subject of much research and discussion in recent years. One of the leading experts on this topic is Professor James McKenna, who has studied infant sleep and its relationship to breastfeeding, mother-infant co-sleeping, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) for over 30 years. He has published over 139 refereed scientific articles in diverse medical and anthropological journals on co-sleeping, breastfeeding, evolutionary medicine and SIDS and is the author of the acclaimed book 'Safe Infant Sleep'.
One of the main areas of focus for Professor McKenna is the idea of "breastsleeping," which refers to the practice of breastfeeding and co-sleeping with an infant. According to Professor McKenna, breastsleeping allows for the close physical and emotional connection between mother and infant that is essential for optimal infant development and well-being. He argues that this type of sleep arrangement allows for a more natural and biologically appropriate way for infants to sleep, as it is based on the way that humans have slept throughout evolution.
Another key aspect of Professor McKenna's research is the connection between breastfeeding and SIDS. He argues that breastfeeding is protective against SIDS, and that mothers who co-sleep with their infants while breastfeeding have a reduced risk of SIDS. This is because breastfeeding allows for a more synchronized sleep pattern between mother and infant, which can lead to more frequent awakenings and a greater ability to detect any signs of distress in the infant.
In addition to the benefits of breastfeeding and co-sleeping, Professor McKenna also emphasizes the importance of safe sleep environments for infants. He encourages parents to avoid the use of soft bedding or other materials that can pose a suffocation risk, and to ensure that the infant's sleep surface is firm and flat. He also advises against the use of certain sleep positioners or wedges that can interfere with the infant's ability to move freely and breathe easily.
Overall, Professor James McKenna's research on infant sleep highlights the importance of breastfeeding and co-sleeping for optimal infant development and well-being, as well as the need for safe sleep environments to reduce the risk of SIDS. His work has contributed significantly to our understanding of the complex nature of infant sleep and the ways in which different sleep practices can affect the health and development of infants.