Co-Sleeping With My Baby – Tips To Make Bed-Sharing Safer

safe co-sleepingCo-sleeping is a very controversial topic in the United States.  In the scientific community, the term “co-sleeping” is used to describe a child sleeping in close proximity to a caregiver, but most Americans use the term “co-sleeping”  to describe when a child sleeps in the bed with his caregivers (“bed-sharing”). The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against bed-sharing due to the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  The AAP does recommend, though, keeping baby in his own safe sleeping environment next to the parent’s bed for the first months of baby’s life as this has been shown to lower the risk of SIDS.

As a new parent, I was aware of bed-sharing risks and decided that the responsible thing to do was to buy a bassinet and have my baby sleep in close proximity to us.  My intentions were good, but right from the beginning, my baby hated his bassinet.  I couldn’t get him to sleep for more than 45 minutes in his bassinet or crib. If you have been following my blog, you have read about my experiences with my high need baby, and sleep was one of our biggest challenges.  One night I gave in and brought my son into our bed. From that day on, I slept better, the baby slept better, and breastfeeding in the middle of the night became easier.  Also, I was a working mom who spent several hours away, and co-sleeping gave me extra bonding time with my baby and much needed rest.

A friend of mine got worried when she learned I was sleeping with my baby and gave me the The First Years Close and Secure Sleeper. The co-sleeper allowed me to keep the baby in the bed with me and its protective sides gave reassurance that I wouldn’t roll over and crush my baby. I used it for several months and loved it. Learn more here.

Safe Bed-Sharing Tips

If you are considering or already sharing your bed with your baby, make sure to take the following safety precautions:

- Place baby to sleep on his back.

- Take precautions to prevent baby from rolling out of bed by placing a guardrail or pushing the mattress against the wall. Guardrails enclosed with plastic mesh are safer than those with slats, which can entrap baby’s head.

- Put your baby to sleep only on a firm and flat mattress. It’s not safe for babies to sleep on a waterbed, a couch, an armchair, or any other surface that is not firm.

- Keep pillows and heavy bedding away from baby’s face.

- Do not allow siblings and pets to sleep with baby.

- To avoid overheating, dress your baby more lightly and do not swaddle.

- Do not sleep with your baby if you are under the influence of any drug or alcohol. These intoxicants could interfere with your awareness of your baby’s presence.

- Avoid sleeping with baby if you are very overweight. Obesity may cause sleep apnea in the mother, in addition to the smothering danger.

- Do not sleep with very small premature babies. Low birth-weight babies appear to be at greater risk when bed-sharing.

- Do not sleep with baby if you are currently a smoker or if you smoked during pregnancy. Studies have shown it increases SIDS risk.

- Baby appears to be safest when sleeping beside breastfeeding mother. Studies of breastfeeding mothers that routinely bed-share with their babies show that they automatically sleep close together, facing one another and waking at the same times.

- Avoid potential hazards such as dangling jewelry. Very long hair should be tied.

- Consider using an attached co-sleeper bassinet as an extension of your bed surface or a co-sleeper with protective sides similar to the Close and Secure Sleeper.

It is important to use common sense and understand that bed-sharing is not for everyone.  Ultimately, you want to do what is best for you and your baby. In my case, co-sleeping created extra bonding time and better sleep for me and my baby.

This article was written by Fernanda Haido, the founder of FefisBaby. It is based on her personal experience with co-sleeping and it should not be a substitute for medical/professional consultation. 

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