Co-Sleeping Safety

By JustMommies staff

Communities across the globe have been co-sleeping with their kids for centuries. In Western culture, however, the practice can be considered something dangerous to do. With unknown causes to things like S.I.D.S. (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), or the risk of a parent rolling onto a child by accident in their sleep, some health professionals say co-sleeping is an unnecessary risk. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against sleep-sharing for the health and safety of the child. However, sleep-sharing advocates, such as Dr. William Sears, disagree, and say that when done properly co-sleeping can be highly beneficial to child and mother. Your child's health and safety are the most important considerations. So, how are you to know if it is really safe to co-sleep with your kids?

Many parents may not have planned to share their bed with their baby, until they find out it is the only way they can get their baby to sleep. Not all babies need to co-sleep. Some are fine sleeping solo or love their cribs. But for some babies, sleeping alone is difficult or near impossible. The closeness they felt being part of mom for nine months is too familiar to trade in for not sensing or smelling their parent from an entirely different room. Faced with worry and sleepless night, concerned mothers don't know what to do. Fortunately, there are several helpful books and websites for parents who want to try co-sleeping, and all sleep-sharing experts agree it should only be done if it is mutually desired by mother and child.

"Co- sleeping itself is not inherently dangerous," Dr. Sears explains on his parenting website. "The CPSC sleep study estimated that 64 deaths per year occurred in infants sleeping with their parents. The fact is that many more infants die when sleeping alone in a crib than when sleeping in their parents' bed."

Here are some precautions for safe co-sleeping

  • Always put babies under six months to sleep on their backs.

  • Don't sleep with your baby if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  • If you or dad is excessively tired, do not sleep with your baby.

  • Do not sleep with your baby if you are extremely obese.

  • Don't sleep with baby on soft surfaces, waterbeds, or couches.

  • Do not allow a space between the mattress and wall or mattress and side rail.

  • Do not sleep in a bed with side rails, head boards or foot boards that have slats or spaces where baby could get trapped.

  • Do not place your bed near mini blinds with chords or anything that could strangle baby.

  • Do not cosleep with more than one baby.

Providing a safe sleeping environment should always be the first priority. If you can't co-sleep safely, don't do it. The important thing to remember is when the entire family is getting safe rest, as well as emotional bonding; the entire family is healthier for it.