In the beginning, I had no intention of making my baby get used to sleeping with me. I had to make that switch once I realized that he wouldn’t sleep without me being next to him. This decision had me stressed for several days and nights as I didn’t want to harm my baby in my sleep. But for my baby’s sake, I had to find a way that would work for both of us. I did some research and found some methods that helped me make co-sleeping safer for both of us. In this post, I’ll share all my findings and experience with you, if you’re struggling with the same decision.
Co-sleeping has been found to be the most popular routine among parents around the world. Almost 70% of parents co-sleep with their baby at night or until their baby falls asleep, either out of desire or necessity. However, The American Academy of Pediatricians suggests parents do otherwise, as co-sleeping could lead to accidental injury or even death in extreme case scenarios. So, reconsider your decision as it could be unsafe and life-threatening for your baby. If you find co-sleeping inevitable, then make sure that you follow the safety guidelines to make it work for your family. Make sure that the bed you have chosen is safe for your baby, the bedsheet is secured and can not be pulled, use mesh guard rails to prevent your baby from falling at night, avoid swaddling your baby during co-sleeping, use a bed big enough for you both, remove heavy blankets and pillows, avoid wearing nightgowns with strings and ribbons, avoid applying strong scents or lotions, do not let your pet sleep with you and your baby, and never leave your baby alone in an adult bed without supervision. With these preventive measures, you can sleep safe and sound with your baby and avoid any possible accidents.
Tips for safe co-sleeping with your baby
Co-sleeping is only suggested for babies that are around one year and not less, or your baby could be at serious risk of injury. Follow these precautions to make sure that you do not harm your baby during sleep and make it a worthwhile experience.
- Make sure that you choose the best possible bed for co-sleeping with your baby, for instance, the mattress should be flat, firm, and smooth. Placing a mattress on the floor would prove to be the best decision, making sure that you leave no gap that your baby could squeeze in.
- Modify your adult bed instead of sleeping on a sofa, recliner, or chair. Moreover, make sure not to hold your baby in your arms while you sleep, as this can lead to a fatal accident without you being conscious of it.
- Never let your baby sleep on soft surfaces like a waterbed, sofa, pillow, or any other soft surface.
- Use fitted sheets that stay in place and cannot be pulled loose.
- If your bed is at a certain height from the floor, then make sure to use guardrails around the bed to prevent your baby from rolling off the bed. Also, be certain that there is no space between the mattress the headboard, and the footboard. Use guardrails designed for babies and not for older children as they have spaces that can entrap them.
- Make sure to use a secure position for beds placed against the wall. Leave no space between the wall and the mattress that your baby could get stuck in.
- During co-sleeping, your biggest challenge would be to be mindful of your baby’s little movements or noise. If you are a heavy sleeper and do not budge with even loud noises, then reconsider sleeping with your baby. In this case, place a cradle beside your bed instead of shifting your baby in your bed entirely.
- Do not let your baby’s siblings share the bed with each other unless your baby is at least 9 to 18 months old. Also, be mindful of the size of the rest of your siblings and their age before allowing them to sleep together.
- Avoid swaddling your baby during co-sleep, instead, let your baby’s arm and legs be free to move.
- Make sure that your bed is spacious enough so that everyone can move freely and to prevent your baby from getting squished.
- Use a sidecar arrangement for your baby’s crib or bassinet that can be placed right next to your bed. This will allow you to reach out to your baby for touch, and assurance and will also prevent any accident from happening.
- Make sure all the rooms accessible by your baby are “child-safe”, as your baby may decide to explore them out of the blue.
- Never sleep with your baby drunk or drugged, because you won’t be conscious of your baby’s need or crying at night.
- Avoid sleeping with your baby if you are obese, as your weight will pose a huge threat to your baby during co-sleeping. In this case, examine the way you and your baby adjust with each other on the bed first. If your baby tends to roll towards you or if there is a huge dip in the mattress, play it safe, and move your baby to a bedside bed or cradle.
- Make sure to remove all the heavy pillows and thick blankets from the bed, so that your baby does not snuggle under them. Use a thin or baby blanket for your baby and avoid adding pillows under your baby’s head. Pillows are only safe for babies that are 15-18 months old. Use firm pillows for yourself instead of large, puffy pillows with your small baby lying next to you.
- To avoid cold, dress your baby in heavy clothes or a puffy blanket, keeping in mind that the body heat will add to the warmth as well. Overheating can also lead to fever in your baby.
- Avoid wearing nightclothes with large strings or ribbons, and jewelry in bed. If you have long hair, then make sure to secure them in a bun.
- Avoid using strong scents and lotions during nighttime for they can cause allergies in your baby.
- Never allow your pet inside the bed or the room.
- If you are going to be away for a while, then make sure that your baby is in his crib safe and sound. Adult beds can be dangerous for babies and leaving them unattended can lead to any terrible mishap.
- Do your research before opting for co-sleeping nests and infant sleep positioners. Most of them have not proven to be safe for your baby in an adult bed.
- Avoid smoking near or within the room, you will be sleeping with your baby. It does not only harm your baby’s health but can also increase the risk of SIDS.
- Make sure to make your baby sleep on his back, to avoid any accidents.
When can my baby sleep on his belly?
Every child takes his own time to accomplish developmental milestones. According to pediatricians, if your baby is able to roll on his belly and back onto his back, is safe to sleep on his belly.
But note, if your baby starts crying upon rolling on his belly and is unable to rollback, this means that they are not ready yet. Lay your baby down on his back and let him find his comfortable position, help him when needed.
Your baby is likely to go through several sleeping habits during his early years of childhood. Some parents choose co-sleeping intentionally to create and strengthen their bond with the baby. While others make modifications as their baby learn to sleep through the night.
You can move your baby’s crib near your adult bed to make your baby feel safer and closer to you. Make sure to choose what’s best for your baby and make thoughtful decisions. Go with the flow and keep modifying according to the needs of your family and baby.
Let me know how you made co-sleeping work for both of you, in the comments below.
Hajira is a certified editor, an experienced and thoughtful writer, and a mother of two. Her deliberate passion for writing convinced her to become a writer along with her mom duties. Driven by her passion for writing, she takes pride in providing the best possible. She aims to incite and provoke enthusiasm in her readers.