Many parents consider sleeping with their newborn for many reasons, such as bonding, breastfeeding ease, and to increase the amount of time they are in bed (though not always restfully sleeping!)
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warn that sleeping with infants is dangerous and puts them at risk for suffocation and death. Despite these warnings, co-sleeping is common in many parts of the world, and some people feel that it has benefits as well as risks. While there is not a clear cut right or wrong, the pros and cons to co-sleeping are discussed below.
Supporters say that parents won't roll over onto a baby because they're aware of the baby's presence, even when they’re asleep. They also believe that co-sleeping can benefit the parents and baby because it:
- Makes nighttime breastfeeding more convenient
- Helps the mother get into the same sleep cycle as her baby
- Helps babies fall asleep more easily and get more nighttime sleep
- Helps parents feel closer to their baby
- Is a traditional practice in their culture
- The biggest argument against co-sleeping is a risk of suffocation when a parent rolls over on baby. (Drugs, alcohol, second hand smoke, and parental sleep deprivation increase this risk because the parent will be less aware.)
- Getting trapped by the bed frame, headboard or footboard
- Getting trapped between the bed and the wall, furniture or other object
- Falling from the bed onto piles of clothing, plastic bags or other soft materials
- Suffocating on a waterbed, mattress or soft bedding (pillows, blankets, quilts, etc.)
- Many parents never get into a restfull sleep when baby is in the bed.
- Baby does not learn to fall to sleep on his own.
- Baby might have trouble napping when parent is not sleeping in the bed.
- Relationships between parents might be strained because there is no alone time in the bedroom.
- Once this habit is started, it can be difficult to break.
Co-sleeping and SIDS
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant younger than 1 year old. Some researchers believe that co-sleeping might increase the risk of SIDS. Others believe it might reduce risks, since co-sleeping parents and babies tend to wake up more often during the night. Most experts do agree that co-sleeping may increase the risk of SIDS if the parent is a smoker.
If you choose to sleep with your infant, please follow these rules. While they do not guarantee safety, they may help your child be safer.
- Place your baby on his or her back to sleep to decrease the risk of SIDS.
- Leave your child's head uncovered while sleeping.
- Stuff blankets firmly between the mattress and headboards, footboards and side rails (or remove bed parts) where the baby could become trapped.
- Remove cords and drapes from nearby windows.
- Remove any strings or ties from your and the baby’s pajamas.
- Remove soft bedding.
- Use a tight-fitting fitted sheet on the mattress.
- Make sure that there are no spaces between the bed and the wall or furniture.
- Make sure your mattress fits snugly in the bed frame (or place the mattress on the floor).
- Make sure there is nothing near the bed that could suffocate or strangle the baby.
- Never put a baby to sleep in an adult bed alone.
- Never place your baby on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress or other very soft surface.
- Never place pillows, comforters, quilts or other soft/plush items on top of or under your baby.
- Never sleep with your baby if you smoke, have been drinking, or have used medicines or drugs that make it hard for you to wake up.
- Never overdress your baby for sleep or overheat the room.
- Never allow baby to sleep in a bed with other children.