Are you planning on cosleeping with your baby? It’s certainly convenient for breastfeeding moms who don’t want to walk through the house several times each night. With a newborn baby, sleep is a very precious commodity. Having your baby close at hand for nighttime feedings makes sense, and it also helps you better align your sleep cycle to that of your baby. Any option involving more sleep for mom and dad feels like the best option at the time. But use caution; it’s easy to doze off during feedings or while rocking your baby at night, and it only takes one dangerous sleep situation to prove fatal for your sweet little one.
What is cosleeping?
Cosleeping refers to a sleeping situation in which a baby sleeps in close proximity to his parents. This incorporates room-sharing, meaning baby is simply sleeping in the same room as his parents but in a separate space, such as a bassinet or bedside sleeper; or bed-sharing, where both baby and his parents sleep in the same bed.
What are the risks of cosleeping?
While it has some benefits, it is very easy to put baby a dangerous situation when cosleeping. Baby can strangulate, suffocate, or get stuck in bedding, mattresses, or bed frames. Adult beds are not made with infants in mind. Sleep-related deaths, such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), are more frequent among infants who share a bed with an adult or older sibling and are the leading cause of death in infants younger than 12 months old.
How can I bed-share safely?
If you choose to cosleep with your baby, the best option is to share a room but have separate sleeping spaces. A bassinet, play pen, or bedside sleeper (a special bassinet made just for babies which attaches to the side of your bed) is made specifically for infants and is the safest option. However, if you do choose to share a bed with your baby:
- Put baby on his back every time he sleeps to reduce the risk of SIDS
- Check your headboard, sideboards, and mattress to make sure there are no spaces, gaps or holes that your baby could get stuck in
- Use minimal clothing to keep baby cool and only a single, light blanket
- Use a bedside sleeper or bassinet next to the bed so that baby is near, but not sharing a bed with an adult or older sibling
- Keep drapes, blinds, or cords away from the bed to prevent strangulation
- Bed-share with a baby younger than 4 months old
- Sleep with a baby on a couch or waterbed
- Consume any medications, drugs, or alcohol before sleeping with your infant that could inhibit your ability to wake up
- Fall asleep with baby on your chest – he must sleep on his back every time
Some parents feel their baby would be easier to monitor for SIDS if he were sleeping in the same bed and that sleeping with their baby helps them bond. It is wonderful to desire that closeness with your newborn baby. Nevertheless, keeping your baby safe and secure during sleep is a special responsibility, and as a parent, it’s important to make sure all caregivers who care for your baby know and follow the safe sleep recommendations.
Do you have any special experiences with SIDS or cosleeping? Share them with us here.
Image credit: David D