So how can you co-sleep safely with your baby? Here are some guidelines from Gentle Parenting:
- You should be breastfeeding if you are bed-sharing. Formula-fed babies should sleep on a different surface.
- Keep pillows, blankets, and duvets away from baby.
- Place the baby on the outside of the bed beside Mum and separate from Dad or other siblings. (Placing baby in the middle might seem better to prevent rolling out of bed, but this can increase the risk of being rolled on.)
- Tie back long hair tightly.
- Make sure there are no loose ties or cords dangling from pajamas.
- Do not co-sleep if you are a smoker, if your partner smokes, or if you smoked during pregnancy.
- Never co-sleep if you’ve been drinking alcohol, or if you’ve taken medications that make you especially drowsy. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications, not just illegal drugs. Anything that can make you drowsy – even medicine for a bad cold or painkillers – is to be avoided.
- Don’t co-sleep if either parent is excessively tired.
- Don’t sleep with pets.
- Place baby to sleep on their back.
- Remove extra pillows, blankets, etc that could cause suffocation.
- You can avoid blankets altogether by sleeping your baby in a one-piece suit that keeps them at an even temperature.
- If you are significantly overweight, consider separate sleeping surfaces.
- If your baby is very small or premature, consider separate sleeping surfaces.
It’s advised not to sleep on the chair, rocker or sofa, as you could fall asleep and your baby could fall, become trapped and potentially suffocate.
Sagging mattresses, memory foam, waterbeds or beds pushed up to a wall are also advised against, as your baby could become trapped. The mattress should be firm, flat, clean and clear.
You can read more from Sarah Ockwell-Smith over at Gentle Parenting.
Hannah Schenker is a freelance writer, editor and regular contributor to The Natural Parent Magazine. She lives with a touch of magic in Golden Bay, New Zealand.