Co-Sleeping Safety Guidelines
Unsafe co-sleeping can kill your baby. But if
you follow these safety guidelines, cosleeping can be a safe and lovely
experience with great benefits
have probably heard the warnings about not taking baby into the
because of the risk of SIDS. It is true that babies have died in the
family bed, but no more than in the own crib. And, in most cases, the
co-sleeping was done in unsafe conditions.
So whenever you take your baby in bed with you - even if it is just for a little while
- please make sure it is safe for her!
On the other hand, research by Dr. McKenna (actual laboratory sleep
studies of cosleeping!
shows that being near your baby when she
sleeps, lets you respond much better to each other. This means you will
feel when something is wrong, and your baby can warn you when necessary.
Top tip! Dr. James J. McKenna's book, Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent's Guide to Cosleeping
, combines well
researched facts with every day practical advice to help you make
co-sleeping a wonderful and safe experience.
Co-Sleeping Safety Guidelines
- Only cosleep
with a healthy child: a baby who has any issue, whether it
is motor skills, breathing problems, digestion problems, is premature
or light-weight, ... may not
react promptly enough when in trouble.
- Standard crib
apply: baby sleeps on a firm surface, without anything around her (no
toys, cuddly animals, blankies, ...). Make sure she is never too hot
and there is no smoking near her or the bedroom, ever.
- Make sure baby is safe
in your bed: there is no crevice, wedge or other part of
the bed where your baby could get stuck in or between. Don't cosleep in
a water bed or on a very soft mattress baby sinks in.
- Ideally baby sleeps between
mom's side and a wall or
rail/bumper that prevents her from falling out. Especially
breastfeeding, as a mom you instinctively react better to the
- Baby's head
is waaaay above your covers. Prefer to wear a warm top for
yourself, and a wearable
blanket for your baby. Then you only need a blanket or duvet
from your waist down.
- NO smoking:
do not co sleep when you or your partner smoke - that includes smoking
outside of the house. Smoking
and SIDS are too closely related.
- you are overtired or exhausted
- you drink alcohol in the hours before bedtime. Not even a
- you are taking medicine. That includes 'harmless'
- Never sleep
with your baby anywhere else than in your safe bed. Sofa's
or couches are not safe - it is too easy for baby to slide off, or get
stuck in a crevice or gap, or get smothered.
I would like to repeat one of these guidelines
: do not cosleep
when you are overtired
This is exactly when so many parents start cosleeping, or end up
as I say. When you're so tired and desperate to get at least some
sleep. But when you are exhausted, you are less likely to wake up when
your baby is in trouble. So be extra careful then.
is a great safe cosleeping solution: you
practically cosleep but your baby is safely in her own crib next to
cosleeping: the appropriate context for the study of infant sleep and
implications for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) research
Sarah Mosko, James Mckenna, Lynn Hunt 2004 Journal of
Behavioral Medicine 16 (6): 589–610