It’s natural for parents to want to be close with their babies as much as possible. Even when sleeping. That is why many moms and dads prefer sleeping in the same bed with their little ones. Bed-sharing promotes parent-infant bonding and helps baby feel warm, comfortable, and secure. Some parents also take advantage of it to: (1) make breastfeeding more convenient at night. (2) help baby fall asleep faster. And (3) allow moms to get more sleep at night.
However, some healthcare professionals believed that the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) outweigh the benefits of bed-sharing with babies. SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants aged one to twelve months old. According to studies, infants who sleep in adult’s bed are 40 times more likely to die from suffocation than babies who sleeps in cribs. In the US alone, 69% of infants who died between 2004 to 2012 were bed-sharing at the time of death.
Researchers found adults’ beds have many potential risks for babies. These includes:
- Suffocation from a soft mattress, loose bedding, pillows, blankets, or quilts.
- Suffocation due to entrapment between a mattress and headboard, wall, or other objects.
- Strangulation in bed frame that allows a baby’s head to get through while the rest of his/her body is trapped in the mattress.
- Mom or dad rolling over the infant while fast asleep. This risk increases when the parents are very tired, smoking, or under the influence of alcohol (or drugs).
- Baby falling from the bed. Infants may be small but they can move lot. Especially when they turn 3 or 4 months old and are learning to roll over. Unlike cribs, beds don’t have side panels to prevent babies from falling.
It is important for infants to sleep on a firm mattress without any pillows, blankets, toys, or other items by their side. This is because babies lack the ability to escape potential threats. For instance, removing a cloth that is covering their nose or mouth which can suffocate them.
Although bed-sharing is not recommended by many doctors, co-sleeping is highly encouraged. Co-sleeping is when parents and infant sleep in one room, close to each other, but are not sharing the same bed. Bed-sharing is a type of co-sleeping.
Here are some ways to safely co-sleep with your baby.
- Put baby on a basinet or a crib next to your bed. This lets you sleep with your baby close enough to monitor him/her. This can help you easily wakeup when the baby cries and attend to his/her need.
- Consider a bedside sleeper. This allows you to sleep next to your baby but on separate surfaces. Many basinets and cribs are now convertible into a bedside sleeper. In which one of the side panels is removable or can be folded down. Allowing you to attached them to your bed.
- Ensure baby’s mattress is firm. An infant’s motor control is not yet developed. Too soft a mattress or foam can sink the child down causing his/her to suffocate.
- Keep away pillows, blankets, quilts, or any plush bedding items on or near the baby’s bed. These items increase the risk of suffocation. Also include stuffed animals and other baby toys on this list. If you’re worried that the baby will be cold, dress the little one in a sleeper or frog suit instead of using a blanket.
- Make sure the baby’s mattress fits well in his/her crib, basinet, or bed frame. This help prevent infant from getting trapped between the frame and the mattress.
- Don’t cover baby’s head when sleeping. It is important to dress baby in a minimal clothing as extra garments may cover the baby’s face while sleeping. Leading to suffocation.
- Don’t place baby near draperies or blinds. The little one could be caught in and strangled by drapes or cords.
- Don’t smoke, drink, or take drugs when co-sleeping with your baby. Regardless of whether you’re bed-sharing or not. These substances may cause you to sleep too deeply that you may not notice your baby crying and in need of your attention.
There is no golden rule when it comes to co-sleeping with a baby. But it is critical to never let an infant sleep alone in a room, without the presence of a committed adult. Whether to bed-share or not depends on circumstances. Consider all the possible choices you have. Make an informed decision based on what you learn from this article and what you think can work best for you and your baby.