Safely Bed-Sharing with Baby
Updated: Apr 8
Co-sleeping essentially means sleeping in close proximity of your child. This may be in the same bed or just in the same room. There are different ways of co-sleeping that are used by families. Here you will find a list with the different options.
Bed-sharing/Family Bed: Parent(s) sleep in the same bed with their child(ren).
Sidecar arrangement: In this case, a crib is securely attached to one side of the parents’ bed, usually next to the mother. Three sides of the baby’s crib remain intact, but the side next to the parents’ bed is lowered or even removed so that parent and baby have easy access to one another. There are several commercial cosleeper/sidecar cribs available.
Different beds in the same room: This might include having a baby’s crib within arms reach of the parents which is easier at night or just in the same room. Older children might have a bed next to or at the foot of their parent's bed.
Child welcomed into parents’ bed: The kids have their own bedroom but are welcomed into the parents’ bed at any time if so desired. In many families, children start their night in their own room but are welcomed into the parents’ bed during the night.
Bed-sharing is one of the ways a family might co-sleep, but it is most often practiced by breastfeeding mothers due to convenience. Safety is an important issue when it comes to bed-sharing. Some sources say bed-sharing as an unsafe practice, no matter how it’s done. However, there are ways to sleep safely while bed-sharing if you follow the guidelines below for safe sleep surfaces and safe sleep sharing.
Some aspects to take into consideration:
- Do not sleep with baby if you are a smoker or if you smoked during pregnancy – this greatly increases SIDS risk.
- Do not sleep on the same surface as your baby if you are overly tired or have ingested alcohol/sedatives/drugs (or any substance that makes you less aware).
- Baby’s appear to be safest when sleeping beside his/her breastfeeding mother.
- Older kids should not sleep with babies under a year old.
- Do not swaddle your baby when bed-sharing. The baby might overheat (which is a risk factor for SIDS) and a swaddled baby is not able to effectively move covers from the face or use arms and legs to alert an adult who is too close.
- Other potential hazards: very long hair should be tied up so that it does not become wrapped around the baby’s neck.
- A parent who is an exceptionally deep sleeper or an extremely obese parent who has a problem feeling exactly how close baby is should consider having baby sleep nearby, but on a separate sleep surface.
I personally had a co-sleeper which was attached on dads side of the bed (after my breech birth I had difficulty walking/moving let alone climb into bed around the crib). When she started to crawl we put the lowered side back up and when she started to climb we moved her bed to the foot of our bed where it still is today (she just turned 2).
I hope this gives you some inspiration for sleeping during the night with your baby close to you.