Co-sleeping involves the sharing of a bed between baby and parent(s)/guardian(s), not just during feeding time or for comfort but also for most of the sleep time. Some parents might also co-sleep with their babies on couches or sofas. In this article, we will highlight the dos and don’ts of co-sleeping.
Many studies show that sharing a bed with your infant within the first 6 months puts them at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). As a result, most parents opt to avoid co-sleeping. Instead, they find a way to sleep with their child without sleeping on the same bed.
In order to prevent any SIDS risks, young babies should be placed in a cot or Moses basket during sleep time and ideally be in the same room as the parent(s)/guardian(s). However, we are aware of the reality of some living situations where co-sleeping is the only option. In this case, the best prevention is ensuring a safe sleep environment.
Even if you choose not to co-sleep, this information is also useful for parents who might accidentally fall asleep with their baby on the bed, which is easy to happen during feeding time at night.
What To Do When Co-Sleeping With Your Baby
If you choose to sleep with your baby, here are a few important steps to take before you fall asleep.
- Put your baby to sleep in a clear sleep space. Avoid overcrowding the baby’s sleep area with pillows, sheets, blankets or any other items that could obstruct your baby’s breathing or cause them to overheat. Studies show that a high percentage of babies who have died due to SIDS were found with their head covered by loose bedding.
- Put babies on their back for every sleep, day or night, in a firm and flat sleep space. Avoid soft surfaces such as pods or nests. Many more babies die as a result of SIDS when placed on their front or side than on their back. The safest place to co-sleep is a clear space on a firm flat mattress as you would if you placed your baby in a cot.
- Ensure that pets and even children cannot find their way on the same bed you’re sharing with your baby as they are not inclined to be as careful and informed as you. Avoid letting them in the bed at all costs.
- Make sure that your baby is positioned in a sleep space where he/she is not prone to fall off the bed or get trapped between the mattress and the wall.
What To Avoid When Co-Sleeping With Your Baby
Although you can include these practices in your co-sleeping routine, there are certain things that you and your partner should avoid altogether.
- Sleeping with your baby on a couch or sofa. Never fall asleep with your baby in an armchair, rocking chair, couch or sofa as this can increase the risk of SIDS by 50 times.
- Sleeping with your baby if you or your partner is a smoker. If either of you smoke, whether you smoke in the bedroom or not, you're putting your baby at risk as babies that are exposed to tobacco smoke are at greater SIDS risks than those kept smoke-free.
- Sleeping with your baby after taking medication or drinking alcoholic beverages. If you or your partner has drunk alcohol or taken drugs (including medications that may make you drowsy), you’re putting your baby at a high SIDS risk.
- Sleeping with your baby when you or your partner is extremely tired.
- Sleeping with a premature baby (37 weeks or less).
- Sleeping with a low weight baby (2.5kg or 5½ lbs or less).
Co-sleeping can be dangerous and can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. However, whether you choose to co-sleep or not is totally your choice.
If you choose to co-sleep, we advise that you follow safety measures on co-sleeping every time.
Remember, pay attention to your child and always seek medical advice if you feel your child is showing signs of being unwell.