I’m going to preface this blog post by saying that I am not encouraging co-sleeping and that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents do not co-sleep. Click here for more info on this.
I feel that even speaking of co- sleeping as a Sleep Consultant is almost taboo. I’m not here to judge or to try and change your parenting styles. A lot of Moms do co-sleep and I’m finding it particularly common in the newborn phase. Unfortunately, studies show that co-sleeping with a baby younger than 4 months increases the risk of SIDS.
There are things that I, as a Sleep Consultant, can recommend parents do to make co-sleeping as safe as possible.
- Always place baby on her back for every sleep period.
- Less is more. This goes for people and bedding. I’m not saying you have to kick your hubby out of the bed, but this is not the time to have other siblings sleeping in the bed. The more people in the bed, the higher the chance of someone accidentally rolling onto Baby. This is also the time to ditch the 4 extra pillows that you use and that big duvet blanket. We don’t want anything in the bed that can cause suffocation.
- Don’t bed share with a current smoker (perfect time quit!).
- Ensure there are no large gaps between the headboard and wall. Better yet- squish your bed up against the wall, so there’s no chance Baby will roll off the bed. I also suggest having Mom between Dad and Baby. The maternal instinct is a strong one and moms are gifted with a 6th sense. We are very in tune with our babies and often wake easier. I remember waking up from my baby sucking on her hands in the middle of the night….and her room was across the hall.
- Make sure you are not co-sleeping on soft surfaces- time to ditch the waterbed (actually, it was time to ditch it in the 1980’s ha!)
- This one is a no-brainer but still needs to be addressed. If you are under the influence of ANY drugs and/or alcohol, don’t co-sleep. That 6th sense isn’t at its sharpest when we are under the influence.
- Use a fan when Baby sleeps as studies show a 72% reduction with SIDS when a fan is used.
The early weeks/months are very exhausting with a new baby and I know first-hand how much easier it is to just pull your babe into bed, pop a warm breast in her mouth, and both drift off to sleep. However, your little one’s life is so fragile- please, please, please be cautious and aware of the risks if you do choose to co-sleep.
American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Safe Sleep Recommendations to Protect Against SIDS, Sleep Related Infant Deaths. (2016, October 24). Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/american-academy-of-pediatrics-announces-new-safe-sleep-recommendations-to-protect-against-sids.aspx
Coleman-Phox, Kimberly (2008, October 13). Use of a Fan During Sleep and the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Retrieved from file:///Users/lindseyhennigar/Downloads/FanReducesRiskof%20SIDS.pdf
American Academy of Pediatrics SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment (2016, October). Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/10/20/peds.2016-2938
Lindsey Hennigar is founder of The Sleep Ranch and a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute. She helps exhausted parents and families get the healthy, restorative sleep they need. Your child can LOVE sleep!