Co-Sleeping, is it safe?

Co-Sleeping Risks And Fears

As a father of four children, I myself questioned whether or not co-sleeping is safe, and eventually after reading several articles online and discussing it with my wife, we determined that although we both prefer not to co-sleep whenever possible for multiple reasons, that we would allow it on occasion.

My children range from 9 years of age, down to 18 months old. And it's rare that we have one of them in our bed anymore, sometimes when they are sick or scared, however when they were under 9 months of age, including as newborns, we occasionally allowed it. As new parents, when we were up every 2-4 hours with feeding and diaper changes, there were times when we barely had the energy to get up out of bed to go get the baby, and it was definitely easier for my wife to roll over and feed our babies than for either of us to go across the room. I know it sound silly, but if you are a dead tired new parent, I think you know exactly what I am talking about.  Fortunately, our bedroom is big enough that we kept a bassinet in our room, and most of the time I was coherent enough to put our baby back into the bassinet just to get up 2 hours later and do it again. 

My initial reaction to the idea was "No Way" because I was afraid that one of us would roll over and smother our child. We determined that the safest place for him or her would be in the middle of the bed. That way they wouldn't roll out of the bed. Of course infants don't roll over for several months, so it wouldn't really be a concern right away. We have a king size bed, so there is extra space in the middle, and that made me feel better that I wouldn't risk rolling over. I tend to stay on my side of the bed. We read that infants need to be on a firm mattress so that they don't accidentally roll over and not be able to breathe, and our bed is pretty firm, so check on that one. I found that I was actually hyper conscious of my child being in the bed, and because of that I realized that I stayed in one position for the majority of the night. Your body naturally moves, and preventing that natural movement can be cause for poorer sleep quality, which can be one of the negative effects of co-sleeping. I slept better when my kids were in the basinet rather than in the bed, and if you're only getting a couple hours at a time, it's important that it be a good couple hour. Generally people sleep better when their sleep is uninterrupted, and that includes by others in the bed. 

There are several basinets that are designed to be pushed up next to the bed, which can make getting the baby for night time feedings much easier, however rotating your body then picking up the child usually uses only the back muscles, which is not recommended and makes it easier to strain a muscle during the movement. I found that swaddling my babies made all the difference in their sleep quality during the first 2 months of their lives, and I got pretty proficient at doing the super swaddle. I don't like to brag, but I think I could teach a class on the benefits of swaddling and how to do it effectively. Anyway, I hope this information has been helpful. Personally I value my quality of sleep, which is why we try to keep kids out of our bed whenever possible. As they got older, usually around 3 years of age, we begin to enforce a house rule that if they don't stay in their own bed until 6:30 am that they do not get any screen time that day. It has been effective at curbing their desire to co-sleep with mommy and daddy, and helping to restore our sleep sanity with our busy lives of four children and a business.

 

It's really up to each parent. We do not recommend one form of sleeping over another (i.e. separate sleeping vs. co-sleeping) and it's important that both parents agree and are comfortable with co-sleeping and follow suggested guidelines to minimize the risks. It's not recommended to co-sleep while using sleeping pills, sedatives, alcohol, or any other substance that could impure the ability to wake from sleep easily.

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Here is another great article on co-sleeping:  

myths-and-truths-about-co-sleeping

 

Some great information in this article as well:

 

The Pros and Cons of Co-Sleeping

 

 

A great quote from Mother Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory:

"Aside from never letting an infant sleep outside the presence of a committed adult, i.e. separate-surface cosleeping which is safe for all infants, I do not recommend to any parents any particular type of sleeping arrangement since I do not know the circumstances within which particular parents live. What I do recommend is to consider all of the possible choices and to become as informed as is possible matching what you learn with what you think can work the best for you and your family."