Are you interested in co-sleeping but need more information to do it safely? Here’s some quick advice that I found and followed years ago when I started co-sleeping with my first daughter. (She was 4 months old at the time.) Most of these suggestions come from Elizabeth Pantley’s book The No Cry Sleep Solution and from my friends who safely co-slept with their own children.
Co-Sleeping Safety Tips
Although no doctor will recommend co-sleeping to you, there are ways to make co-sleeping safer for your child. Some parents buy a bassinet-type bed attachment that latches onto the mother’s side of the bed. Other parents buy a special mesh railing that also attaches to the side of a bed. Some mothers even put a mattress on the floor and sleep with the baby there. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you take steps to prevent a long fall for your baby or toddler from the top of the bed to the floor. (Note: Falling out of bed is one of the risks of co-sleeping.)
If you choose to co-sleep, be mindful of who sleeps next to the baby. The second biggest risk of co-sleeping is suffocation. This can happen by rolling over onto your baby or covering them up with blankets and pillows. Mothers tend to be the most sensitive to a baby’s cries, sounds, and movement, so it is best for small children to only sleep by their mommies. A walking toddler is a bit more durable, vocal, and coordinated. I allowed both our girls to sleep next to their grandparents and daddy in addition to me. Baby C also takes supervised naps next to her sister now that she is strong enough to move independently.
If you choose to co-sleep, be aware of blankets, pillows, and loose clothing in the bed. As I said before, suffocation is a risk to co-sleeping. I recommend wearing warm clothes that fit well so that you don’t need to pull up blankets. I never covered up my children with blankets or allowed them to sleep on a pillow at night until they were at least 1 year-old and could walk.
If you choose to co-sleep, avoid all things that dull your mommy senses. You can’t take ANYTHING that will make you less aware of your surroundings or put you into a deep sleep. This includes drugs, alcohol, sleeping pills, and cold medicine. (No NyQuil to curb those cold and flu symptoms if you are sleeping next to a baby!) You need to be aware of yourself and your baby, even in your sleep, should you choose co-sleeping.
How Did We Do It?
When we started co-sleeping with Big C, I ordered a long, mesh toddler railing from Amazon that we attached to my side of the bed. Big C slept on my side of the bed, I slept in the middle, and my husband slept on his side of the bed. She never slept in-between us because my husband is a deep sleeper. Each night, I would lay on my side facing her or flat on my back. I never turned my back to her in the bed. I wanted to be as aware of her as I could to keep her as safe as I could. The three of us dressed warmly each night so that we would not need blankets. My husband and I only pulled our quilt up to our waist and the blanket was never high enough to reach her.
Note of Warning
Be aware that there are serious risks to co-sleeping. There is a danger that your child could fall or become suffocated when sleeping in bed with you. As a result, no doctor will ever recommend that you co-sleep with your child.
Q: Do you have any good co-sleeping safety tips to share?