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Infant co-sleeping expert James McKenna authors new book

Author: Arts and Letters


Anthropologist James J. McKenna, director of the University of Notre Dame’s Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory and a world-renowned expert on infant co-sleeping, breast-feeding and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), is the author of a new book titled “Sleeping With Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Co-sleeping.”

Newly released by Platypus Media, the book states that simplistic recommendations against any and all forms of co-sleeping are not only scientifically inappropriate, but dangerous and morally wrong. In taking readers through various ways to safely co-sleep, McKenna provides the latest information on the potential scientific benefits, and minimizes hazards and risks of co-sleeping.

McKenna distinguishes between the many different types of co-sleeping (both safe and unsafe) and argues against singular recommendations for or against bed sharing (sleeping on the same surface). The book provides diverse data illustrating why parental choice to bed share, especially for breastfeeding families, should be respected and supported, and explains how safely to bed share and when to avoid the practice.

Notre Dame’s Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Chair in Anthropology, McKenna and his research team pioneered the first behavioral and electro-physiological studies documenting differences between mothers and infants sleeping together and apart and has become known worldwide for his work in promoting studies of breast feeding and mother-infant co-sleeping. His research continues to build evidence in favor of the notion that babies sleep best and more safely next to their mothers, within sensory range.

World-renowned SIDS researcher Dr. Peter Fleming from St. Michael’s Hospital in Bristol, England, says “The book should be required reading for everyone who cares for mothers and infants.”

Dr. William Sears, pediatrician and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine, describes the book as “trusted advice from the world’s authority on co-sleeping.”

McKenna, who won the prestigious Shannon Award from the National Institutes of Child Health and Development for his SIDS research, has written three books on SIDS, co-edited “Evolutionary Medicine” and has published more than 130 scientific papers on infant sleep and SIDS. He regularly is interviewed in the national media on issues relating to his research and is a sought-after speaker at medical, parenting and policy conferences worldwide.

McKenna earned his doctorate from the University of Oregon and taught at Pomona College in California and the University of California, Berkeley, before coming to Notre Dame in 1998.

Contact: James McKenna, 574-631-3816,

Originally published by Shannon Chapla at on July 13, 2007.