Is Co-Sleeping with Your Baby a Good Idea?

Reviewed by James Brann, MD
Some parents would rather bring their baby to bed, rather than putting the baby in a bassinette or crib. Especially mothers who breastfeed find the convenience of letting the baby suck on the breast milk is easier when a baby is next to her in bed. For an already-tired mom, it certainly seems a lot more convenient and some mothers actually enjoy the bonding time of sleeping with their new baby. However, this raises the question of whether sleeping with your baby is a good idea, or a bad idea?
The answer to this is not always black or white. You, as a parent, must make the best choice for you and your children. However, if you do choose to sleep with your baby, there are some risks involved that you should be aware of.

Co-Sleeping Safely with a Baby or Child:

  • If you co-sleep with your baby, it is best not to place the baby under your sheets and blankets because the infant can get too hot. If you do sleep with the baby, hold the baby over the top of the bedding and swaddle the baby in its own blanket, rather than putting it underneath yours.
  • Infants six month and younger should sleep in a bassinette or crib next to you, rather than in your bed. This is the time that the baby may be most prone to SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – and overheating increases this risk.
  • Never sleep with a baby if you or your partner are smokers, drinkers or use any kind of drugs or medication. These things pose many health risks for your baby and increase the chances that you might roll on top of the baby while you are passed out.
  • If you or your partner have sleep apnea or are too exhausted, never take the chance of co-sleeping. Should you fall into a deep REM sleep, the chances of smothering the baby are higher.
  • Get a king-sized bed if you plan on co-sleeping. Remember the child will grow and you will need room for you, your partner and the child.
  • If you do plan on co-sleeping, it may be tougher to get the child to sleep in his/her own bed later on when they become toddlers. This is a very tough habit to break!
  • Make sure the baby does not get too hot. Dress the baby in pajamas that have easy access for diaper changes and make the baby snuggly, but not in clothes that will cause the baby to overheat.
  • Never leave the baby in your bed alone.
  • Do not allow more than one child to sleep with you, especially a baby and toddler together.
  • If you do choose to co-sleep with your child, make sure the mattress is not too high up from the floor, just in case the baby does roll off the bed.
Co-sleeping might seem wonderful at times, giving you quality one-on-one time with your newborn baby and enabling you a few extra minutes of sleep. However, down the road, keep in mind the child will often grow used to having you there and be more likely to keep you up at night. Fetching drinks, going to the bathroom, changing diapers and many other reasons make it too easy for you to prolong the agony of sleepless nights for months or years longer than with children who get used to the idea of sleeping in their own beds from the very beginning.

Once again, there is no right or wrong with the concept of co-sleeping, as long as you keep safety first and foremost!


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