How Modern Moms Have Made Co-Sleeping Safe

How Modern Moms Have Made Co-Sleeping Safe

How Modern Moms Have Made Co-Sleeping Safe

Co-sleeping has become an increasingly popular practice among modern parents, especially with mothers. There are many different forms of co-sleeping depending on your individual situation such as the age of your children, how many children you have, and what your end goals are for co-sleeping arrangements. 

Some of the different kinds of co-sleeping are bed sharing, different beds in the same room, a child sleeping in a parents’ bed as needed, and sidecar type arrangements. You may incorporate some or all forms of co-sleeping into your own parenting, but it’s important to learn how to make sure you are practicing co-sleeping safely. 

Thanks to modern moms and researchers, parents have a vast amount of information out there now about how to co-sleep safely.

Some Co-Sleeping Health Benefits

When practiced safely and correctly, there can be many health benefits of co-sleeping. For mothers, studies have shown that it can improve breastfeeding, improve sleep patterns, and even lower stress levels. Many co-sleeping mothers say they are comforted by knowing their child is easily accessible if something goes wrong.

The proximity factor in general can be beneficial for mother and child both psychologically and physiologically. For example, physiologically, babies who co-sleep show certain signs such as steadier body temperatures and more even heartbeats. These are just some of the benefits of co-sleeping.

Unsafe Co-Sleeping and SIDS

If you practice unsafe co-sleeping with a very young child, your child might be at a greater risk for SIDS. SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, occurs when a child dies suddenly in his or her sleep, usually happening to a child under the age of one; new-borns to age 6 months are especially high risk. There is no known specific cause of SIDS; however, bed-sharing, also known as family bed, is one particular co-sleeping form that puts very young babies at a higher risk of SIDS usually through accidental suffocation.

Safe Bed-Sharing

Although bed-sharing is a potentially dangerous form of co-sleeping, the decision is ultimately up to the parent. If you do decide you want to bed share, there are certain precautions that you can take to make it safer. 

One of the biggest things to be cautious of is drug and alcohol use. If you have been drinking alcohol or are under the influence of any drugs or other substances, pharmaceutical or otherwise, avoid having your baby sleep in the same bed as you. Even if a medication is over the counter or prescribed, if it makes you less aware, you could be putting your child at risk in your bed.

Another thing to avoid is swaddling your baby when doing bed-sharing. It can lead to overheating body temperatures for the baby. You should also avoid having older siblings or other children sleep in the same bed as a young baby. If you are a smoker or smoked while you were pregnant, do not sleep with your baby because it can be a risk factor for SIDS. 

Co-Sleeper Cots

Co-sleeper cots are one of the best innovations for the practice of safe co-sleeping. They are unique devices that are specially designed to facilitate the sidecar type arrangement of co-sleeping. 

Co-sleeper cots are small cribs or bassinettes that have the capacity to lower a wall and attach to a parent’s bed. Then, while three sides of the baby’s cot are intact, you can choose to lower the side attached to the main bed. The baby maintains their own separate sleep surface, which is a big priority for safe co-sleeping, while still being in arm’s reach and even ready for side-nursing.

This arrangement works well because it provides a safe and secure sleep space for the baby but a mom or other caregiver can still easily reach over and check on her baby or breastfeed him or her. Many co-sleeper cots can be used as a stand-alone crib as well. They make many co-sleeper cots that are also travel friendly, so you can take them on a trip out of town or a vacation. More materials about co-sleeper cots can be found at the website from 

A Quick Review of Safe Co-Sleeping

A Quick Review of Safe Co-Sleeping

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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