One thing to be sure to avoid is smoking. The lungs are the last thing to develop in a baby and smoke can make it difficult for developing lungs to breathe. Wearing the same clothes to bed after smoking should be avoided for the same reason. Always place babies to sleep on their backs on a firm surface. Soft surfaces and waterbeds do not provide enough support for the growing bones of infants. Soft surfaces can also block airways as the baby settles into the surface. Although stuffed animals are cute, and you have probably started receiving thousands as gifts, they should never be placed with the baby during sleep. Before you place your baby down to sleep, be sure to check that all bed/crib sheets are snug around the mattress and that there are no loose blankets. Also make sure there are no gaps between a wall and mattress that may entrap your baby.
Sleeping on the couch, a rocking chair, bean bag, etc. is not considered safe for co-sleeping due to so many variables that cannot be controlled for the baby’s safety.
You can sleep safely in the same space as your child. Co-sleeping in the same bed is also known as “bed-sharing”. This option is often preferred amongst mothers who are breastfeeding and whose child is still night feeding. The baby should be placed next to the mother while sleeping as this has been shown to be the safest position. In this scenario, being a light sleeper and constantly waking up as a new mum is a positive thing. If you are worried about rolling onto your baby try and think of the last time you rolled out of bed. As an adult, your sleeping brain knows where the edge of the bed is and your motherly instincts will add the location of your baby to your brain while you sleep. A good rule of thumb is also one baby in the bed at a time.
Avoid swaddling your baby while sharing a bed as well. This way your baby can move blankets away from their face and they can avoid overheating. Blankets should be kept at a distance or off of the bed to avoid covering your baby’s face. Once the baby gets older and is rolling on their own, you may want to consider placing your mattress on the floor to continue bed-sharing.
If you are finding yourself stressed about your baby rolling out of bed, this may be the solution for you. If you are overtired, consumed alcohol, or had any medication that may cause you to be drowsy or sleep heavily, choose a different form of co-sleeping for the night.
Co-sleeping sidecars are available for you to attach the sleeper safely alongside your bed. This provides your own separate sleeping areas while still being close to your baby. The major area of concern for this type of sleeping is gaps between surfaces. Always check that your side sleeper is attached properly and is flush with the bed you are sleeping on.
Sharing a room with your baby is as simple as placing their crib or bed in the same room as your bed. This might mean some rearranging needs to be done to ensure safe sleeping. Avoid placing your baby’s crib or bed next to any curtains or blinds that may have dangling cords. Babies will move while they sleep and cords can easily get tangled up around the baby. If possible avoid placing the crib or bed directly under or over an air vent. This will help your baby maintain a regulated body temperature. Drastic or sudden changes in temperature may cause your baby to wake. If your child is older, you can also place their mattress in your room and follow the same cautionary steps. Older children may start sleeping in their own bed in their room and then want to come into bed later in the night. This is a normal sleep pattern and may be allowed as long as there is not another baby in the bed.
Having information on the safe ways in which you can co-sleep with your child will help you choose the best option for you and your family. Knowing the steps to take to keep your baby sleeping safely should put your mind at ease. A mind at ease is a mind ready for sleep!