How to Safely Co-Sleep with Your Baby

safely Co-Sleep with Your Baby

Co-Sleeping 101: How to Safely Co-Sleep with Your Baby

As a new parent, you may have heard about co-sleeping but wonder if it is safe or comfortable for both you and your baby.

The quick answers are Yes and Yes! In this blog post we’ll go into details about the benefits and how to safely co-sleep with your baby.

What is Co-Sleeping?

Co-sleeping is exactly what it sounds like! Parents and babies sharing the same sleeping space, either in the same bed or next to each other in the same room but in different beds.

Many parents choose to co-sleep because it can make breastfeeding easier – I know firsthand that it is SO much easier to breastfeed when you can reach over and easily pull baby to you.

Choosing to co-sleep can also strengthen the bond between you and your baby, and help both of you sleep better. When your baby can feel your calm and rhythmic breathing, it encourages them to stay calm and regulated as well.

However, co-sleeping does have some potential risks, like accidental suffocation, overheating, falling off the bed, or getting trapped by bedding or furniture.

Although these risks sound scary, they are actually rare when you co-sleep safely.

The safest way: Separate sleep surfaces

Room-Sharing instead of Bed-Sharing is generally thought of as the safest way to co-sleep with your baby.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents room-share with babies for at least the first 6 months of their lives.

This makes it easy to see and hear your baby – and respond quickly – if they need you, without sharing the same bed.

You can room-share by placing your baby in your room but on a separate sleep surface. This can be a traditional crib or bassinet, or something small and portable like a pack ’n play that is close to your bed.

Whichever sleep surface you choose, it’s important that it is firm, flat, and clean. I have 3 crib sheets so that 1 is in use, 1 is clean and ready to be used, and 1 is in the laundry.

As cute as baby blankets and crib bumpers can be, they are actually not safe to be used in your baby’s sleep space. Pillows, toys, and any soft items could pose a suffocation hazard.

If your baby does stick an arm or a leg out of the crib slats, they will be okay. If it bothers them, they will be sure to cry and let you know. The risk of injury from the crib slats is so much lower, that it’s just not worth it to use the crib bumpers.

If you want something in between room-sharing and bed-sharing, you could use a bedside bassinet that attaches securely to your bed, but keeps baby separated. We have this one from Amazon and really love it! (As an Amazon Affiliate I may earn a commission if you make a purchase from this blog post, at no extra cost to you. All profits go into running this blog, and I appreciate your help!)

The next best thing: Bed-sharing

safely Co-Sleep with Your Baby

Some parents may prefer to bed-share with their baby for various reasons such as convenience or cultural norms.

Co-sleeping has numerous benefits for both the baby and the parent. It promotes bonding, regulates the baby’s breathing and heart rate, and makes night-time feedings more comfortable for the parent. It can also help the baby sleep better and feel more secure, which leads to an easier transition to their own bed and room when your child is older.

However, it is essential to follow safety guidelines to prevent accidents and ensure that both you and your baby sleep comfortably. Enter the Safe Sleep 7!

These 7 guidelines make it easy to safely co-sleep with your baby, and they come complete with a little song that is going to sound familiar!

The Safe Sleep 7

To be sung to the tune of Row, row, row your boat:

No smoke, sober mom,
Baby at your breast,
Healthy baby on his back,
Keep him lightly dressed.

Not too soft a bed,
Watch the cords and gaps,
Keep the covers off his head,
For your nights and naps

  1. No Smoke, Sober Mom.

Please go to bed sober. Obvious, yes, but I feel the need to say it.

Do not drink alcohol, use drugs, or smoke before or during co-sleeping with your baby. These substances can impair your judgment, alertness, and ability to respond to your baby’s needs.

They are also known to increase the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

  1. Baby at Your Breast

A breastfed baby will instinctively stay by their favorite snack spot! It makes nighttime nursing infinitely easier, too. (When baby is older, they can pretty much latch on without even waking you up! Ask me how I know…)

Keeping baby by your breast prevents them from scooting up too high to the soft pillows, and keeps them from scrunching down low and getting under the covers.

My husband and I even use separate blankets so that there’s no chance of one of us pulling the blanket up too high and covering our baby.

Another fun fact about keeping baby at your breast, is that breastfeeding moms around the world have the “cuddle curl” instinct. Our knees come up near the baby’s legs and our bottom arm curls around the baby’s head. Our legs prevent us from rolling onto the baby, and the arm prevents anyone else from getting too close! Moms are awesome.

  1. Healthy Baby on Their Back

Full-term, healthy babies are at a lower risk for SIDS and most can safely bed-share right from birth. Most experts agree that by 4 months old, healthy babies are just as safe bed-sharing as they are in their own sleeping space.

If your baby has any health issues or you have been told that your baby is a higher risk for SIDS, you’ll want to discuss sleeping options with your pediatrician.

Keeping baby on their back while sleeping ensures that their airways are clear and they will not push their face into the mattress. A lot of babies prefer to sleep on their sides, so check with your pediatirican if your baby seems to prefer this sleeping position.

  1. Keep them Lightly Dressed

Ideal temperature for babies is anywhere from 61 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. They can be dressed in up to one layer more than you comfortably have on.

For example, if you have on shorts and a t-shirt, a good option for your baby may be a long sleeved footie-sleeper.

Pro-tip: Little Sleepies pajamas are super soft and comfortable, and last up to a year because they’re made of stretchy bamboo fabric! They even have matching pajamas for the whole family!! (No, I don’t work for them, I just really love this brand, haha)

Regardless of which kind of pajamas you use, opt for the zipper kind. No one wants to be undoing and redoing millions of buttons during middle-of-the-night changes.

  1. Not Too Soft a Bed

It is essential to use a firm mattress when co-sleeping with your baby.

A soft or squishy surface can increase the risk of suffocation, as your baby’s face can sink into the mattress, making it difficult for them to breathe. A firm mattress provides a stable and secure sleeping surface, reducing the risk of suffocation.

If you’ve been looKing for a sign to upgrade your mattress – here it is! Experts say that a firm, King-sized mattress is best for co-sleeping, because it gives parents and baby the room they need to sleep safely.

  1. Watch the Cords and Gaps

It’s important that there is nothing besides your bedding, yourself, and your baby in your bed if you want to co-sleep. Phone charging cords, clothing, loose blankets, and anything that could get wrapped around the baby are all serious choking and suffocation hazards.

You’ll also want to make sure that there aren’t any gaps between the bed and the wall that baby could fall into, and that babies is near the center of the bed so that they can’t fall off the side onto the floor.

Falling off the bed isn’t as big of a concern before your baby can roll over, but it’s better to start good habits from the beginning instead of trying to change your habits later on.

  1. Keep the Covers Off their Head

The same rules apply in your bed as they do in cribs – To reduce the risk of suffocation, it is crucial to avoid soft bedding, such as pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals, in the co-sleeping area. These items can easily cover your baby’s face and obstruct their airway, increasing the risk of suffocation.

 Most babies do just fine in their pajamas, but if you need to provide more warmth for your baby, look into Sleep sack blankets or my personal favorite – the Merlin Magic Sleep Suit.

safely Co-Sleep with Your Baby

The bottom line: Educate Yourself on Safe Co-Sleeping Practices, and do what works for you!

It is essential to educate yourself on safe co-sleeping practices to avoid any harm coming to your baby.

Co-sleeping can be a wonderful way to bond with your baby and promote better sleep for both you and your little one. However, it is crucial to prioritize safety when co-sleeping.

These tips are a great start for how you can safely co-sleep with your baby comfortably, but this is just my own experience, it is not a suggestion or medical advice.

Consult with your pediatrician or a certified sleep consultant to learn about the latest safety recommendations and guidelines, and always make decisions based on what feels best for you!

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