James McKenna

James McKenna

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Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Professor of Anthropology; Director, Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab

Office: 624 Flanner
Phone: 574-631-3816
Email: McKenna.25@nd.edu

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Areas of Expertise

Infant co-sleeping, breast-feeding, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), evolution of human behavior, evolutionary medicine, human parenting, infancy

A world-renowned expert on infant sleep — in particular the practice of bed sharing or “co-sleeping,” especially in relation to breastfeeding — McKenna is a widely quoted authority on this frequently debated parenting issue. As director of Notre Dame’s Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory, he is known for conducting the first-ever physiological and behavioral studies of the differences between solitary and co-sleeping mother-infant pairs. McKenna is a strong proponent of co-sleeping and focuses his research specifically on the relationship between sleeping arrangements, feeding method and risk factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The author of “Sleeping With Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Co-sleeping," McKenna also has published more than 130 refereed articles in medical, anthropology and psychology journals and completed two monographs on SIDS and infant sleep.


James J. McKenna covering all aspects of the bed-sharing debate.


Babies can sleep safely next to mothers


Researchers propose ‘breastsleeping’ as a new word and concept
What’s the big idea? Ten speakers to participate in ND Thinks Big
McKenna, Aprahamian named AAAS fellows
Anthropologist recognized by national association
Colleges announce teaching award winners
Infant co-sleeping expert James McKenna authors new book
Infant co-sleeping expert sheds light on controversial practice
Dance Chose Him


The Atlantic — The Taboo of Being a Human Pacifier
NPR — Are We Becoming Overzealous About Breast-Feeding?
The Washington Post — Here’s what happened when a family of 7 started sleeping in the same bed
PopSugar — Everything You Need to Know About ‘Breastsleeping’ With Your Infant
Fit Pregnancy — Could ‘Breastsleeping’ Mean More Sleep For Moms?
Huffington Post — Why One Researcher Thinks Mothers And Infants Should Share Beds
Huffington Post — My Conversation With Co-Sleeping Expert James McKenna
Psychology Today (blog) — To Share or Not to Share
Der Spiegel — Stillen als Zwangsverhütung: Mama gehört mir ganz allein
Die Welt — Warum Babys nachts ständig aufwachen
Fox News/LiveScience — SIDS risk factors vary for older and younger babies
The Independent — Babies evolved to wake new mothers in the middle of the night as a survival tactic, claims Harvard biologist
Fox News — Co-sleeping and bed-sharing: Is it a good idea?
Fit Pregnancy — Sleep With Your Baby
Huffington Post — Co-Sleeping Research Looks At Breathing Risks For Baby
NPR — Does Milwaukee’s Campaign Against Sleeping With Babies Go Too Far?
NBC Today Show — Can co-sleeping be safe? Dr. Sears explains
The Guardian — Who needs a cot or a pram when you’re bringing up a baby?
Time Magazine — Go Ahead, Let Your Kids Climb into Bed With Mom and Dad
Philadelphia Inquirer — Hospitals push safe sleep practices for infants
Minneapolis Star-Tribune — Accidental smothering of infants rarely results in charges
Sun-sentinel.com — Babies sleep best when they are not alone
AOL — Message on a Mattress: Put Baby in a Crib
The Washington Post — Rise in Infant Suffocations Renews Debate On Bed-Sharing