Is Sleeping With Your Baby Safe?

no co sleeping Is Sleeping With Your Baby Safe?That sounds like a news headline, doesn’t it?

I can just see the story now, warning parents of all the potentially frightening consequences of sharing sleep with your baby.

There are a lot of scares around the Internet and on television about cosleeping (or bedsharing, sleepsharing, the family bed, whatever you want to call it…). Some of these warnings come from credible organizations. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, for example, cautions about the “hidden hazards” of putting a baby in an adult bed and the 1999 CPCS Chairman stated that, “the only safe place for babies is in a crib…

But I’d like to clear a few things up about the “dangers” of cosleeping.

headshot1 126x150 Is Sleeping With Your Baby Safe?For starters, you may want to read the research and work of Dr. James McKenna, an anthropologist and professor at the University of Notre Dame. Check out this excerpt from his article, Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone.

Often news stories talk about ‘another baby dying while cosleeping’ but they fail to distinguish between what type of cosleeping was involved and, worse, what specific dangerous factor might have actually been responsible for the baby dying. Such reports inappropriately suggest that all types of cosleeping are the same, dangerous, and all the practices around cosleeping carry the same high risks, and that no cosleeping environment can be made safe.

Nothing can be further from the truth. This is akin to suggesting that because some parents drive drunk with their infants in their cars, unstrapped into car seats, and because some of these babies die in car accidents that nobody can drive with babies in their cars because obviously car transportation for infants is fatal. You see the point.

When done safely, mother-infant cosleeping saves infants lives and contributes to infant and maternal health and well being. Merely having an infant sleeping in a room with a committed adult caregiver (cosleeping) reduces the chances of an infant dying from SIDS or from an accident by one half!

He also points out that, “the highest rates of bedsharing worldwide occur alongside the lowest rates of infant mortality (including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) rates).

pictures 150x148 Is Sleeping With Your Baby Safe?And he notes that UNICF, the World Health Organization, the USA Breastfeeding Committee, and La Leche League International all support bedsharing.

Dr. Sears is another highly regarded physician that is quick to outline the many benefits of safe co-sleeping and to give guidelines related to sleeping safely with your baby.

I’ll leave you with a quote by Dr. Sears: “The bottom line is that many parents share sleep with their babies. It can be done safely if the proper precautions are observed. The question shouldn’t be “is it safe to sleep with my baby?”, but rather “how can I sleep with my baby safely?.””

Well said, Dr. Sears. Well said.

YOUR TURN: Do you cosleep with your baby for part or all of the night? Why or why not?

  • http://www.mamanash.com/ Jenny N.

    I have nothing against cosleeping but for me I found I wasn’t able to do it the whole night. I could never fall fully asleep with my baby next to me for some reason. And then I was groggy and crabby all the next day.

    However, my husband gets up very early for work (around 4:45) so every morning he would put the baby in bed with me and we would sleep until after 8:00. I think I slept better because we had more space when my husband wasn’t with us.

    I’m not sure what the routine will be with #2 but we’ll figure out something that works for all of us. I think that’s the key: find what works for your family.

  • http://growingalife.blogspot.com Damselfly

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and also the links to articles. We’ve allowed our son to sleep with us a few times, usually when he just wouldn’t settle down otherwise. I’m thinking about getting a cosleeper for the new baby, though. The problem is we love the Amby baby hammock (which Sears also recommends!), which we already have from when our boy was a baby….

  • http://crazydogslife.blogspot.com Blessed

    I wasn’t crazy about co-sleeping, primarily because I sleep hard and was worried about rolling over on the baby in my sleep. But our first one was a little girl and she had her daddy wrapped around her fingers from her first second out of my womb so he didn’t want to be apart from her and we co-slept most of her first year. It really was fine, I did the research, eliminated the identifiable hazards in our bed and ended up really liking the experience. Although I was glad when she moved to her crib around a year old – it was nice to have my hubby to myself at night again.

  • http://myboyandme.blogspot.com/ Madeline

    I co-sleep with Levi and can’t imagine it any other way. At first, because of recovering from a c-section, he slept in a cradle next to me. He quickly moved into the bed with me and has been there ever since. When he was in the cradle I still felt sleep deprived. Despite being right next to me, nursing still required me to fully awaken. Sleep became so much better for both of us when I moved him into the bed. I’m so glad that you and other bloggers are bringing this issue to people’s attention. It’s important that parent’s know that bedsharing is a good and healthy option in many situations.

  • http://www.thoughtswithchris.blogspot.com Christine Jensen

    I do co-sleep for the first few weeks then slowly try to move them to thier own beds for longer and longer. In the beginning I do sleep much better knowing they are there, but as they grow I sleep better when they are on thier own (and they seem to sleep through the night better for me) but those first few months of snuggling my baby close to me during the night are so sweet.

  • http://blog.amuchbetterway.com Sheryl

    My first daughter is going to be 4 next month and we still happily bedshare. My second is four months and she sleeps next to me as well and breastfeeds whenever she feels like it. :)

    They are both welcome to move on whenever they want or sleep with me as long as they want. We follow all safe cosleeping guidelines and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

  • http://rockinmama.net Caryn Bailey

    It’s funny…I’m a NICU nurse…I’ve been working with and educating mothers for 9 years…I almost feel like a hypocrite saying that I co slept with my son for almost a year and a half. I have to tell my patients not to co sleep and then I did the very opposite. The AAP does not endorse co sleeping because of it’s risk for SIDS. The fact is…we don’t know what causes SIDS….so telling parents that they can co sleep would cause a huge liability (suffocation, entrapment, dangerous falls…unfortunately I’ve seen them all). I think there is a safe way to sleep with your baby but I think many people don’t know that and do it in an unsafe way….I think that’s why the recommendations are so stringent….It’s really tough…honestly..my son fell off of our bed at a year and a half which was when I put him in the crib for good. And I was DILIGENT about making sure he was safe. But babies roll and things happen…if he was smaller I can’t imagine what would have happened….
    A bump on the head, an ER visit at 3 am, and a very frantic and paranoid mother resulted in the curt end to our co sleeping. I think I would still do it again while breastfeeding but I think there is a point when they become mobile that it does become unsafe….
    Funny enough….there is no guarantee that your baby will be safe in his/her crib or in bed with you…the fact is…some babies have an underlying medical condition that may predispose him/her to SIDS.

  • http://sassyfrazz.blogspot.com Sarah

    I sleep with my baby all night long! I do love to sleep alone (non-touched) too, but there is something so precious about my baby next to me. I am an avid nurser, too, and co-sleeping is so much easier with breastfeeding. He is nursing all night long! :) My babies sleep better next to me…warmer, and they feel more safe, I think.

  • http://www.mamasparkles.blogspot.com Marissa

    Sometimes when my son wakes up in the middle of the night and won’t go back down in his crib, I’ll bring him to bed with us. Unfortunately, he kicks and squirms a lot and if we move a little bit, it disturbs him and he starts screaming. BUT, the rare times in which he does just lie there sleeping like an angel next to us are very peaceful and sweet.

  • http://newsonnarrative.blogspot.com/ Becky N.

    I was a mom who was adamantly against sharing my bed in any form with any child, ever. But when we brought our first daughter home from the hospital, placed her in a crib, in her own room all the way the hall… and this after keeping her diligently by my side the entire hospital stay… it just felt wrong. My husband and I just couldn’t get settled, and finally we admitted to each other that we’d rather have her in the room with us. We hadn’t planned on co-sleeping, but we did the best we could and set up a little station next to our bed. We brought in our large, firm ottoman, wedged it between the wall, bed and dresser, so that it was tightly enclosed on three sides. I wasn’t worried about the fourth since she was a newborn. And there she stayed with us for 3 months! I finally switched her to the crib part-time because she was a noisy sleeper, and it was affecting me poorly.

    When our 2nd and 3rd babies came along, we were prepared to cosleep. I had an Arms Reach Cosleeper now, but only used it very part-time. I found that I really preferred them in my bed rather than next to it.

    I’ve never found cosleeping to be the least bit dangerous. When our 2nd baby started getting mobile, we moved our mattress to the floor so that falling off wouldn’t be a problem. It worked fine for us. With our 3rd, we didn’t move to the floor, but made sure we had rails on the side. And then he mastered getting down from furniture pretty early. And I have always been very aware, even in my sleep, of where my children are in relation to me. Sort of the way you always know where the edge of the bed is. ;) And waking up to see their peaceful face is just wonderful… I wouldn’t trade that experience. :)

  • Michelle

    I have let all my babies sleep next to me for most of the night for most of the first year. It has worked out great for us that way. It’s a little harder for me to fall asleep, but it’s a lot easier than getting them to stay asleep away from me for such a long time. And it’s another great way to bond. :)

  • http://jessalexanderbaby.blogspot.com Jessica

    My older son slept by my bed til he was 4 months, at which point I had done sufficient research to feel comfortable switching to actual bedsharing. He coslept til he was 2.5, when his baby brother came home from the hospital. Now the baby sleeps with me full time, and my older son comes to my bed when he needs to.
    As a working mom, it means more rest for me, better milk supply since nursing at night is so much easier, and a great way to make up for time missed during the day.
    I would not trade cosleeping for anything!

  • http://www.ourgreennest.blogspot.com Our Green Nest

    We still co-sleep with our 16 month old and LOVE it! We still breastfeed of course too and there’s no way it would work having her in a separate room. Plus, I just don’t think babies are meant to sleep by themselves. It’s FAR safer to have them near you!!! I would be a nervous wreck if she was in a separate room. We all sleep wonderfully and have no plans of changing anything anytime soon. It’s so precious, beautiful, natural, and it’s the way the vast majority of the world has ALWAYS slept with their babies.

  • http://www.jinxyisms.com/ Jinxy

    I cosleep with my daughter. I hadn’t planned it that way, but I knew she was going to sleep in my room in her pack-n-play bassinet thingy. But once she got off of the bili light box I wanted her right there with me. I’m nursing and cosleeping makes it so much easier and makes both of us happier. She sleeps better swaddled so between that and the sleep positioned (little triangle things on the side of her to keep her from rolling around) makes me feel like she’s safe. Of course she’s not really mobile yet, I have a bed rail waiting for that day.
    When she does fall asleep before I’m ready for bed I will put her in the p-n-p but as soon as she wakes up she’s back into bed with me.
    Honestly cosleeping makes me happy, I love waking up to her beautiful big bright eyes and I’m lazy so I don’t have to get up to nurse her in the middle of the night. :)

  • http://memgirl.blogspot.com/ Serena

    Before I had babies, I thought that co-sleeping was selfish and irresponsible. Hahahahaha! I sing a different tune, now! Co-sleeping is at the top of the list of Best Things Ever, along with breastfeeding and babywearing. ;)

  • http://mamasampler.blogspot.com/ csixberry

    I started co sleeping with my first baby because I was worried she would die at night.(don’t ask i am just a paranoid person) If she was with me it helped me sleep better because I would know she was okay and in my arms so I could make sure she would be fine. I still woke up a lot at night to make sure she was breathing, I don’t know why I was so scared she would die, but I always had to check her chest like 4 or 5 times a night to make sure it was still moving. I co slept with her until she was about 5 or 6 months old and she was so heavy my shoulders couldn’t take it anymore because she always wanted to sleep on my arm. With number two I just was more comfortable with her sleeping with me and slept better, I wasn’t afraid she would die, I was just enjoying the closeness and the time I had with her so small and calm in my arms. She slept with us until she was nearly a year and then after that she would just wake up and come to our bed in the middle of the night, much like our older daughter, I am glad we have a king size bed, with two adults and a 2 and 4 year old i wish they made them bigger than that.