It’s something that many parents do each night, it’s also a controversial topic, but co-sleeping can be the right option for you, so long as you make sure safety comes first.
Before your baby sleeps in your bed, keep the following safety tips in mind:
1. Make sure your mattress is firm
Your baby could suffocate or overheat on a soft mattress. If your bed has a frame, a headboard, or is against a wall, make sure the mattress fits snugly, so your baby can’t fall into any gaps. This risk is highest when your baby is between three months and 10 months.
2. Keep the bedding light and minimal
Don’t use a duvet if you are co-sleeping. If your baby is less than a year old, use lightweight covers, and use them sparingly to prevent overheating or suffocation. This risk is highest during his first three months of his life. Check every now and then to make sure he hasn’t wriggled down and covered his head.
3. Never sleep on a sofa with your baby
He could become wedged in the cracks between the sofa cushions or between you and the back of the sofa. Don’t co-sleep on a waterbed as these are too soft and may have deep crevices around the frame where your baby could get trapped.
4. Keep your baby warm
Make sure bub is not hot, and dress him lightly for sleep. Contact with your body will raise his skin temperature. As a rule of thumb, if you’re a comfortable temperature, then your baby probably is, too.
5. Don’t let your baby and toddler sleep next to each other in bed.
Toddlers don’t understand the risks, and could roll over onto your baby, or put an arm across his mouth or head. You or your partner should always sleep between the children if you want them both in your bed.
6. Your baby should never be left alone on the bed
He could easily fall out, even if you’ve just nipped to the loo. Don’t let your baby sleep on a pillow, or put one either side of him, as he may roll off it or be smothered in the folds.
7. Buy a rail to attach to the side of the bed
When is co-sleeping not safe?
Because of the increased risk of cot death, you shouldn’t co-sleep if:
- You or your partner smoke.
- Your baby was premature or had a low birth weight.
- You or your partner have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medication or drugs. This may affect your memory and you could forget that your baby is in your bed and roll over onto him. You may also sleep so soundly that you are unaware that you’ve rolled on to him.
- You are extremely tired, or have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnoea. You may be in such a deep sleep that you don’t wake up if you roll onto your baby.
How can I make co-sleeping comfortable?
Bed size is important if you plan to have your baby in bed with you. It won’t be as enjoyable, or safe, if your bed is too small. King-size is best, but if that’s a no-no for your budget (or bedroom), buy a cot that you can attach to the side of your bed. Or try putting a normal cot next to your bed with the side down.
You’ll have an easier time touching or soothing your baby if you can adjust his mattress to the same height as yours. This approach works well if your baby is a wriggler. He’s still at arm’s length, but not kicking you in the night.
There’s no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to sleeping arrangements for you and your baby. Some parents like to sleep with their babies, and some don’t. And some babies need more night-time comfort and companionship than others.
As your baby grows, he might not want to sleep all night, every night, with you. With a bit of trial and error, you’ll eventually find a method that works for you, your partner, and your baby.
What worked for you and your baby? SHARE with us in the comments below.
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