Remember, these are the ideals. It's still unclear how exactly to follow these guidelines in the everyday life of caring for a baby. This article gives a good explaination of the conundrum faced by parents. In short, when you're up at 3 a.m. with a baby that cries every time you put him down and you're exhausted, what do you do? Some sleep situations are clearly preferable to others. Flat surfaces with baby on back is better than a couch or chair where baby could slide into the cracks or be dropped. It's all about knowing the risk factors and lessening as many as possible.
The biggest risks seem to be: drug and alcohol abuse, prematurity or LBW, smoking (both around baby and in pregnancy), sleeping on tummy or side, sleeping in a different room, and not breastfeeding. Many of these are preventable.
We know that breastfeeding is not only protective against SIDS, but has clearly been shown to be prolonged by cosleeping. As this article explains, a breastfeeding mother in the absence of other risk factors has never been shown to be less safe than a baby alone in a crib. Since breastfeeding protects against many forms of infant illness and has life-long consequences, its preservation should be given major consideration. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine says this about the AAP's co-sleeping statement: "These recommendations overemphasize the risks of bedsharing, and this overemphasis has serious unintended consequences. It may result in increased deaths on sofas as tired parents try to avoid feeding their infants in bed." Many women have questions or need help in the early weeks of breastfeeding. If you need a lactation consultant in the San Angelo area I can direct you to one.
To read more about why babies sleep best next to their mothers, you can read this long, but eye-opening article on Why Babies Should Never Sleep Alone. Have you ever asked yourself why new parents are always trying to catch up on sleep? At this time and place in the U.S. we are quite unique in the belief that babies should have their own rooms and sleep through the night at an early age. This has led to "cry-it-out" sleep training methods where parents leave the baby to cry because they don't know any other way to get baby to sleep by themselves. This article from Psychology Today might shed some light on this type of parenting practice from a psychologist's point of view.
With all this being said, the important thing to remember is that nothing is 100%. You could do all these guidelines perfectly and still lose a baby. All you can do is the best you can in the moment.
To read more about cosleeping, try Dr. Sears' (a pediatrician) article where he describes a physiological experiment he did with his own infant daughter.