Heads up, this post may contain affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – check my Disclosure Policy to learn more
21 Ways Make Sure You Are Bed-Sharing Safely
The best laid plans.
I wasn’t planning to bed-share when I had my first baby. The issue of bed-sharing safety never even crossed my mind. I thought a baby in my bed would disrupt my sleep.
Then baby Nicholas came along and laughed at my plans.
It started in the hospital. If we put him in his bassinet he would cry. If he was in bed with me or being held by my husband he was happy and content.
All they gave my husband to sleep on was a recliner. He couldn’t sleep standing up. Although, he wouldn’t be the first parent to try it.
It made it an easy choice about where Nicholas would sleep. And I found that having a baby in bed with me did not disrupt my sleep.
The hospital staff was not very happy with me. That’s ok. I wasn’t very happy with them either. That made it even.
We brought him home after a couple of days. We looked at the cute bassinet that had been waiting for a baby for months and said, “We’ll use that in a few weeks.” Weeks turned into months.
He eventually did sleep in the bassinet, and the crib we bought a few months later. But he still spent most nights in our bed. Even if it wasn’t the whole night, we found we were bed-sharing.
Being a new parent is tiring. Bed-sharing enabled us all to get more sleep.
Baby girl Susie arrived and I was all ready to share our bed with her for a long time. She had her own ideas though. At a month I put her in that cute bassinet and we both slept better.
Number three, Patrick, loved bed-sharing. My attitude by then was that it was better for everyone and safer too. I read a book that was pro bed-sharing. It pointed out that countries where bed-sharing was common had much lower SIDS rates than ours.
We came out of the closet and proudly shared that we were a bed-sharing family.
That was 27 years ago. I don’t know if I could find that book if I tried. We all know that thoughts have changed about bed-sharing.
There has been a strong public service campaign warning against the dangers of bed-sharing.
In spite of that, the number of families that bed-share is increasing.
Bed-sharing On the Rise
Picture this: there you are, breastfeeding your baby in your warm and cozy bed. Your baby is asleep and you are just about to drift off to sleep. To put your baby safely into his Pack ‘N Play you have to stand up.
You decide, just this once, you’ll let him stay in your bed. Once turns into twice. Before you know it, your baby is sleeping with you every night.
You try to ask your pediatrician if there is any way to make it safer. He just tells you that you should never do it. End of discussion. You feel admonished and never bring it up again.
To be clear, I am not encouraging anyone bed-share. But I think we are doing parents a huge disservice to not tell them what increases the risk of sharing a bed with your baby.
These measures will not eliminate any risk from bed-sharing. They can decrease the risk.
I have talked to many parents who have said they have no plans to bed-share. I always reply, “You know what they say about the best laid plans?”
I encourage all parents to have a sleep environment that encompasses safe bed-sharing practices. Whether you plan to bed-share or not because sometimes it just happens. It’s always good to be prepared for everything.
The Difference Between Co-Sleeping and Bed-Sharing
The AAP Safe Sleep Recommendations include the recommendation that babies sleep in their parent’s room, close to their bed.
This arrangements is sometimes referred to as co-sleeping. This has caused some confusion. Co-sleeping can be interpreted as sleeping nearby or sleeping in the same bed.
To avoid any confusion I am going to use the term bed-sharing when talking about sleeping in the same bed.
Bed-sharing Safely and the Safe Sleep 7
- Comforters – it’s too easy for the baby’s face to get covered
- Lots of pillows. One pillow per adult head decreases the risk that the baby will have their face covered by one.
- Other children in the bed. Have you ever slept with a child? If you have then you understand why they shouldn’t be in bed with a baby.
- Pets in the bed – they just don’t care where they lay or whose face they are covering.
- Bed-sharing with a baby who is not breastfed
- Bed-sharing when extremely exhausted
- Bed-sharing with anyone who is extremely obese
Extremely Dangerous Practices
Decreasing Risk of Bed-Sharing
- Mattresses should be firm
- Bedding should be well-fitted
- Moms with long hair should tie their hair back.
- Any adult in the bed other than mom should be comfortable with bedsharing.
Advantages of bed-sharing when breastfeeding
AAP Safe Sleep Recommendations
The Baby Box
21 Ways Make Sure You Are Bed-Sharing Safely
Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC
Andrea has been working with new families as an RN for over 35 years and a Lactation Consultant for over 25 years.
She has her MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation.