In the United States co-sleeping with your infant is an extremely controversial topic. While there are definitely benefits to sharing a bed with your baby, in Western culture the risks seem to outweigh the benefits. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (or AAP) advices against bed-sharing and instead advocates for room-sharing. The Consumer Product Safety Commission agrees with the AAP and advises parents to not place their babies in adult beds.

The benefits of bed-sharing include:

Easy and convenient breastfeeding
Sleep synchronization for mother and baby
Increased bonding
Baby can smell, hear, and feel their mother which may promote safer sleep via “protective arousal
Increase in nighttime sleep for both mother and baby.

The risks of bed-sharing include:
Rolling over onto baby
Knocking baby off of the bed
Increased risk of SIDS, in some cases.

Soft adult mattresses, loose bedding, bed frames, headboards, footboards, and positioning the bed close to walls may contribute to the risk of a baby being harmed or killed during bed-sharing. In other cultures, where injuries and deaths related to bed-sharing are comparatively less, the cultural practices for bed-sharing are different. For example, in other cultures the mattresses may be firm and placed directly on the floor.

Infants who bed-share with siblings or with parents who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and infants with parents who smoke could be at a greater risk for injury or death while co-sleeping.

In the United States, the term co-sleeping and bed-sharing are often used interchangeably, but they have two separate meanings. Dr. Sears offers clarification to the different terms. The term co-sleeping refers to sleeping close enough to the baby for easy comforting, while the term bed-sharing refers to mother and baby sleeping side by side in an adult bed.

Placing your baby in a safe, separate, and close sleep space offers the benefits as co-sleeping without the added risks associated with bed-sharing. In fact, the Arm’s Reach Co-sleeper Bassinet, recommended by co-sleeping advocate and pediatrician Dr. Sears, attaches to a parents bed and keeps the mother and baby close to each other while still providing the baby with a separate sleep space on a firm mattress, away from the parent’s bedding, headboard, and footboard, which can all contribute to suffocation, strangulation, entrapment, or even SIDS.

For parents who opt to bed-share, despise the warnings, they should:

Always put their baby to sleep on her back
Always ensure their baby’s head is not covered
Make sure that their headboard or footboard doesn’t have cutouts that could trap their baby
Not leave their baby alone in the bed
Not use pillows, comforters or other fluffy, loose bedding
Ensure that their bed is away from walls, which could trap their baby should he fall
Ensure their bed is away from blind cords and drapes to prevent strangulation.
Be sure that there are no crevices between the headboard and mattress, which could lead to entrapment.

For parents who choose to co-sleep, they should:

Always put their baby to sleep on her back
Use a wearable sleep blanket, rather than loose bedding
Place nothing else in the bassinet or crib
Position the bassinet or crib away from blind cords and drapes
Be sure the mattress fits snugly into the bassinet or crib
Be sure the bassinet or crib sheet fits snugly and securely.

So, is co-sleeping safe?

Yes. The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a safe and separate sleep space, in the parents’ room, within arm’s reach away from his mother.

This article was written and provided by Michelle at

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