Experts advise that a baby six months or younger should sleep on his back in a cot or Moses basket in the same room as you. This applies to both daytime and nighttime naps.
This is primarily to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Babies who sleep in the same bed as their parents have a higher risk of SIDS.
However, India has a lower incidence of SIDS than many other countries, including developed countries. South Asian babies have a decreased prevalence of SIDS, despite the fact that it is normal practise for babies in these regions to sleep in the same bed as their parents. Nobody knows why this is happening.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea for you, your husband, or anybody caring for your infant to understand how to make sharing your bed safe, when co-sleeping isn’t safe, and how to set up your bedroom for safe sleeping-sharing.
When is sharing a bed with my baby not safe?
You should never try to co-sleep with your infant in certain situations. The most dangerous of them is falling asleep with your infant on a sofa or recliner, due to the increased risk of your baby overheating and suffocating. Your baby is at the same risk whether it is during the day or at night.
Other variables contribute greatly to the risk of SIDS. You should not share a bed with your kid if:
- You, your husband, or anyone sharing your baby’s bed have consumed alcohol or used drowsy-inducing medication or medications.
- You, your husband, or anyone sharing the bed with your infant smokes or uses e-cigarettes, even if you never smoke in bed or at home. The majority of SIDS in India are caused by secondhand smoking.
- Your infant is less than three months old, was born prematurely (before 37 weeks), or has a low birth weight (less than 2.5kg)
You or your husband’s memory may be impaired by alcohol or drugs, and you may forget that your baby is in your bed or on the sofa with you. You could be sleeping so deeply that you don’t realise you’ve rolled onto him or that he’s become trapped between you and the back of the sofa. For the same reason, specialists advise against co-sleeping if you are excessively exhausted.
Some doctors also advise against sharing a bed with your kid if he has recently been discharged from the newborn care unit.
If you are breastfeeding your child and none of these risk factors apply to you, it may be reassuring to know that sharing your bed with your baby should not considerably raise the risk of SIDS. In these situations, it is safer to nurse your baby in bed rather than breastfeed and then doze off with your infant on a sofa or recliner.
Is it possible to make co-sleeping safer?
It may appear simpler to share a bed with your infant at times, especially if you’re breastfeeding or your baby struggles to relax without you. But, before you curl up with your infant, consider the following safety precautions.
Never sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby
These are two of the most unsafe places for you and your infant to fall asleep. Your infant could become trapped between the spaces between the sofa cushions, or between you and the back or sides of the sofa or chair.
Make sure your mattress is firm
A sinking or soft mattress increases the risk of your baby suffocating or overheating. Make sure the mattress fits tightly if your bed has a frame, a headboard, or is against a wall. You don’t want any spaces for your infant to wriggle into.
Co-sleeping on a waterbed, air bed, bean bag, or other sagging surface is also not recommended. Waterbeds may have deep crevices around the frame where your kid could become imprisoned.
Keep bedding light and minimal
Keep bedding and pillows away from your baby’s head, as this could lead him to be suffocated or overheated. Pillows should not be used by babies under the age of one. Any pillow, soft object, or loose bedding might impede the infant’s airway and cause asphyxia.
If you must wear a duvet, choose one with a low tog rating (the efficacy of the material’s thermal insulation) and keep it at waist level to avoid covering your baby’s head. A well-fitting infant sleeping bag is an appropriate choice that can reduce this risk.
Allow your infant to sleep on a pillow, but do not place pillows on each side of him. He may roll away or become suffocated in the folds of the pillow. This also applies to traditional horseshoe-shaped pillows.
Keep your baby warm, not hot
Despite the fact that co-sleeping elevates your baby’s skin temperature, he should be able to manage his core temperature. The bedside light will assist him in keeping his head uncovered. A room temperature of 23°C to 25°C should be comfortable for your newborn.
Put on your baby’s regular clothes and maybe a vest if it’s cold outside or you’re running an air conditioner. As a general rule, if you’re at a comfortable temperature, the baby is usually as well.
Sleep with your baby in the “C” position
Place your baby on his back and sleep on your side, facing him, with your body wrapped in a C shape around him. Draw your knees up under your baby’s feet and place your lower arm above his head. This position keeps pillows away from your baby’s head and prevents you from rolling forwards or backwards.
If you’re nursing, you’ll probably adopt this posture intuitively because it’s easier for your baby to eat during the night if he’s resting level with your breasts. Take cautious not to fall asleep while your infant is still breastfeeding.
Don’t let your baby and toddler sleep next to each other
You should only allow your toddler to sleep in the same bed as you and your infant if it is really necessary. Your toddler will not grasp the dangers and may turn over on your infant or place an arm across his lips or head. If you and your children share a bed, you or your husband should always sleep between them.
When you’re in bed, your toddler may find it difficult to grasp that you need to maintain your attention on your infant. If this is the case, convincing her to sleep in her own bed may be easier. If your toddler resists and nighttime becomes difficult, it is safer to place your infant in a cot near you.
Never leave your baby alone in your bed
When your baby is in bed, make sure you, your husband, or another responsible adult is constantly around. Even if you’ve only been gone for five minutes, your kid could slip off your bed or squirm himself into trouble.
If no one is available to care for your baby, it may be best to leave him in a safe spot, such as a cot or a Moses basket, while you leave the room. You could also put him in his pram or carry cot and walk with him.
How can I make sleep-sharing comfortable?
If you have the room, a king-size bed should be quite big enough for you, your husband, and your kid. If this isn’t an option and you and your husband are determined to share your bed, one of you may prefer to sleep somewhere else for a bit to make more room.
When their baby begins to wiggle and roll around, some parents choose to place their mattress straight on the floor.
If you’re still concerned about the risks of sharing a bed with your newborn, consider purchasing a bedside cot. With one side removed, this cot can be safely linked to your own bed. This manner, your infant is close to you yet in a separate bed.
If you have a large family, your baby’s grandparents may offer to share their bed with him on some days. Make certain that all safety regulations are observed by them as well.
When it comes to sleeping arrangements for you and your baby, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some parents want to sleep with their babies while others do not. Some newborns require more nighttime reassurance than others.
As your child grows, he may no longer want to spend the entire night with you. You’ll eventually find a strategy that works for you, your husband, your baby, and your entire family with a little trial and error.
Learn more about providing a safe sleeping environment for your baby.