Co-sleeping with your baby
Bed sharing is what nearly all parents used to do when most families were large and dwellings small. In fact it is still is the norm in many parts of the world, often for cultural rather than economic reasons.
Sleeping in the same bed as your baby or toddler can be comforting for you and your child; night waking or feeding can be addressed without getting out of bed and research has shown co-sleeping mums are more likely to breast feed their baby for longer.
On the other hand it can take time to get used to sleeping next to a wriggly child, it may be hard to move your child out of your bed when you feel the time is right and for some couples bed sharing with their child can have an impact on their close relationship.
Research has concluded that parents should not bring a new baby into their bed for the first six months because, statistically, this is the time of highest risk of cot death. The Lullaby Trust recommends the safest place for babies to sleep in the first six months is in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as their parent.
Whether you decide to share your bed comes down to personal choice, but it is important to know how to make it as safe as you can.
Tips for bed sharing
When not to co-sleep:
- It is not safe to bed-share in the early months if your baby weighs less than 2.5 kg or is premature (37 weeks or less), as this is strongly linked to an increased risk of SIDS
- Do not co-sleep if you or your partner have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs that may cause drowsiness (legal or illegal).
- Do not co sleep if one or both of you is a smoker, even if you don’t smoke in the bedroom.
- Do not doze off with your baby on a sofa or armchair.
- Do not leave your baby alone in bed, as even very young babies can wriggle into a dangerous position.
- Keep pets away from the bed.
- Do not have other children sharing the bed too.
Tips to keep your baby safe when co-sleeping:
- Keep your baby away from pillows, nests and pods and ensure bedclothes cannot cover her face or head that could obstruct your baby’s breathing or cause her to overheat.
- Make sure your baby cannot fall out of bed or become trapped between the mattress and wall.
- Don’t place your baby in the middle of the bed between you and your partner.
- Ensure your baby sleeps in a clear space on a firm flat mattress.
- Follow all the safer sleep guidelines for your baby from The Lullaby Trust
If you are unsure about having your baby in your bed but want to sleep physically near, you can use a bedside co-sleeper cot that is specifically designed to fit up against your bed. The side is removed and the cot acts as an extension of your bed space. Or just simply place your baby’s cot next to your bed.
Safe sleeping video from The Lullaby Trust.