Safe Cosleeping

With my first child, I only knew of the horrible bedsharing stories you read (or watch) on the news. I wasn’t going to have that happen to me. I was terrified I might fall asleep sitting up with baby in the chair (a big no-no as baby could slide down a bit and become wedged, suffocating… the same reason you shouldn’t sleep with baby on a couch), or even sitting up in bed.

I worked full time and it really took a toll on me to have to be working all day after horribly broken sleep. I accepted this as simply how it was going to be until my husband went out of town when my little guy was 6 months old. That night I slept with my little guy in our bed for the first time ever, and it was amazing. I slept well. He rolled towards me to nurse, and that was that. We didn’t have struggles to stay awake or fears of something happening, we just had sleep and nursing and a well-rested night.

So let’s talk safe co-sleeping and bed sharing: Co-sleeping is sleeping near your child in the same room as them. It could be in a bassinet, in a sidecar attachment, in bed with you, etc. Bed sharing is when you sleep in the same bed with your little one. A lot of times people use co-sleeping to imply bed sharing, though that’s only one type of co-sleeping. All bed sharing is co-sleeping, but not all co-sleeping is bed sharing.

Cosleeping can reduce SIDS risk, since if something were to happen, say baby suddenly stops breathing, it will be noticed much sooner by a parent that was next to them than if baby was in a different room.

If you opt for co-sleeping without bed sharing, make sure that whatever baby is going to sleep in meets whatever the safety requirements are for that item. If it’s a crib, no bumpers, no drop-side, make sure all sidecars are securely against the bed, etc. All bedding needs to be tight against the mattress, and you don’t want any pillows or soft blankets/toys near baby’s face.

For safe bed sharing, there are a few things you can do to make sure you create the safest environment possible:

  • Never bedshare after consuming alcohol, smoking, or taking any drug that affects alertness, legal or illegal
  • No sheets or pillows near baby’s head
  • Baby should not be close to a wall, another person, or anything he or she can be wedged under
  • Secure long hair—it can be a choking hazard
  • Bedshare on firm surfaces only—not beanbags, featherbeds, or waterbeds
  • Older children should not bedshare with infants.

So should you cosleep? The answer is different for every family. Talk over the pros and cons with your partner and make an informed decision together.

Christine is a baby wearing, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, nursing, mother of 2. Her husband is a stay-at-home father, and a licensed medical massage therapist. They practice baby-led weaning and signing with their children. Christine also writes her own blog called: Thoughts Of Fluff.

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