How to co-sleep safely with your baby
● 42% of two-week-old babies sleep in their parents’ bed.
● 27% of babies still sleep with their parents by age 12 months.
● 5-15% of mothers also share a bed with a second child.
Despite the rise in bed-sharing, the practice has its detractors. Here are some of the pros and cons, to help you make up your own mind.
The pros of co-sleeping
Advocates of co-sleeping argue that it is natural and beneficial for baby, makes bubba feel safe and secure, builds a greater bond between parent and child, and makes it easier to breastfeed and settle baby during the night. Many parents who sleep with their baby report a greater sense of ease, knowing their child is always close. In addition, many advocates of bed-sharing believe that co-sleeping infants cry less during the night.
The cons of co-sleeping
Instead of bed-sharing, SIDS and Kids recommends sleeping a baby in a cot next to the parents’ bed for the first six to twelve months. Nevertheless, the jury is out and there are conflicting opinions about the dangers of co-sleeping, with some doctors pointing out that cultures that traditionally practice safe co-sleeping enjoy the lowest incidence of SIDS.
Keeping baby safe when co-sleeping
If you do decide to share your bed with baby, here are a few tips to keep your child as safe as possible:
● Make sure baby sleeps on her back, not her tummy or her side.
● Make sure baby’s head remains uncovered during sleep. Don’t use a pillow, there’s a risk of suffocation.
● Don’t smoke, consume alcohol or take drugs, including sedatives.
● Do not sleep with baby if you are significantly overweight.
● Many experts believe you should not bed-share if baby was premature, had a low birth weight, or is less than four months’ old. Again, the jury is out.
● Make sure your bed has a firm surface, and use only lightweight blankets.
Still unsure? There is an alternative.
The decision to co-sleep is a highly personal one. Ask questions, do your research and, if you’re still unsure, you might prefer to walk the middle ground, and buy or hire a special bassinet, known as a co-sleeper, that attaches securely to the side of your bed. Baby will still be close to hand but he or she will also be on a separate sleeping surface.