When it comes to baby sleeping issues, the primary advice given to parents is to put their baby to sleep in a cot. But is it ever safe for your baby to sleep with you?
Cots are safe places for babies to sleep, especially if they are laid down in a safe sleeping position to help reduce the risk of cot death. However, there are some situations when health professionals do see the benefits of a baby sleeping with mum.
The main example of this is when a mum is Breastfeeding Their Baby. It’s always useful for babies who are breastfeeding to share a room with their parents, or be close by at night, for the first six months, so they can easily attend to them during the night. But some mums may go one step further and let their baby sleep in the bed with them.
Some people may choose to let their baby join them in bed when they’re breastfeeding, as it means mums can breastfeed comfortably. In fact, when new mums are in hospital having given birth, the hospital may even suggest baby joins mum in bed if they can’t settle and need feeding. If you are going to do this though, there are some serious safety issues to consider.
How to Sleep Safely With Your Baby
Most adult beds aren’t designed to have tiny babies in them, and there is a serious risk that a baby could be accidentally squashed, suffocated or trapped in a bed. If you’re in hospital and your baby is joining you in your bed, it’s likely that the midwives will pop something into the bed so that some of the dangers are reduced. But if you’re at home then you need to take precautions yourself.
To ensure your Baby Sleeps Safely, you should:
- Have a mattress that is firm and flat – waterbeds or sagging mattresses are inappropriate and unsafe for babies.
- Keep the room temperature between 16-20°C. If it is too hot, it can be unsafe for babies.
- Don’t put too many clothes on your baby, as they could overheat.
- Make sure your baby can’t fall out of bed or accidentally get stuck between the mattress and a wall.
- Never let the covers go over your baby’s head.
- Always make sure your partner knows your baby is in the bed.
- Never leave your baby alone in the bed.
- Never let a pet into the bed.
When sharing your bed with your baby, he should be put to sleep on his back, not his tummy or side.
When Not to Sleep With Your Baby
On a long-term basis, co-sleeping isn’t recommended and it’s better for everyone concerned if your baby sleeps in their own bed. Not only is this safer for your baby and for you (and you don’t have to constantly worry about accidentally squashing them), but it can also help your baby establish their own sleeping patterns and get used to being in their own bed.
There are some instances when you really shouldn’t sleep with your baby. These include:
- If you’ve drunk alcohol.
- If you’ve taken any medication or drugs that could make you sleepy.
- If you are very tired.
- If you have a medical condition that could affect your awareness.
Whatever you do, the main thing to keep in mind at all times is the safety of your baby.