Safe Co-Sleeping Tips for New Parents

by Major League Mommy
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Co-sleeping is a controversial practice in which a baby or small child sleeps in the same environment with parents rather than having a separate nursery or bedroom. The controversy came about after research published in the Pediatrics journal brought the risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) to light.

The researchers in this study uncovered a connection between bed-sharing and a higher risk of SIDS; as a result, they recommended that infants should sleep in the same room as their parents but not in the same bed because of concern that bed-sharing could be a contributing factor for SIDS.

However, it appears that bed sharing alone doesn’t greatly increase the risk for SIDS; according to previous studies, several other risk factors such as cigarette smoke and substance abuse were also involved in the relevant cases of SIDS.

The researchers concluded that SIDS risks increase when the parents smoke, abuse drugs or alcohol, or sleep with the baby on a chair or sofa rather than a bed.

baby sleeping photo credit: FatCamera from Getty Images Signature via
Photo credit: FatCamera from Getty Images Signature via

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Co-sleeping is a term that can be applied to several different sleeping arrangements:

• Bed sharing

• Sidecar arrangement

• Sharing a room

Bed sharing is an arrangement in which parents and baby sleep together in the same bed. This is dangerous for newborns because they are vulnerable to being hurt if a parent accidentally rolls onto them, and they also risk suffocation in the soft surfaces like pillows and blankets.

In a sidecar arrangement, the baby sleeps in specially-made accommodations that are placed to the side of the parents’ bed. This allows the baby to be close at hand for feeding and comfort, but it greatly reduces the danger that a parent will roll over and squish the baby during sleep. It also reduces the likelihood that the baby could accidentally suffocate in the bed’s soft surfaces like blankets and pillows.

However, these sidecar sleepers are still not ideal and are not recommended because there is a risk that babies could get trapped in spaces in between the sidecar sleeper and the mattress. This risk increases if you accidentally set up the baby’s accommodations incorrectly; if you do decide to try this sleeping arrangement, it’s important to be sure of following the provided setup instructions.

When you share a room with your baby, you place the baby in a bassinette or crib that’s totally separate from your bed. This eliminates the hazards that come along with bed sharing or setting up the baby’s accommodations incorrectly. This is the co-sleeping option that experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend.

The Benefits of Co-Sleeping

It is quicker and easier to feed your baby when you’re co-sleeping. This is true whether you’re bottle feeding or breastfeeding.

There’s a study suggesting that women who frequently bed-share with their babies tend to breastfeed for a longer duration than women who do not.

Co-sleeping also reduces or eliminates the amount of separation anxiety a baby feels at night. Infants who sleep in their own rooms often cry from loneliness or fright; when mom is nearby in the same room, the baby does not feel so lonely or frightened. This typically results in a lot less crying and a lot more sleeping for both mom and baby.

How to Make Co-Sleeping as Safe as Possible

If you frequently smoke, drink alcohol, or take substances that may alter your level of awareness, it is especially not safe to share a bed with your baby. Room sharing, however, is still possible.

At any time when you are not completely sober, you are less likely to become aware if there is a problem that could cause harm to your baby. Alcohol or drugs were involved with 31% of infant deaths that occurred during co-sleeping. Therefore, at times when you’ve indulged in alcohol or other substances that may impair your judgment, it’s advisable to put your baby to sleep in their own crib rather than risking a fatal accident.

Clear the bed of potential suffocation hazards including pillows, toys, blankets and other soft surfaces. Ensure the bed is pulled far enough away from walls that the baby could not possibly fall and get trapped between the bed and a wall. Do not ever fall asleep with your baby in an armchair or on the sofa because the potential for accidents on these furnishings is extremely high.

Is CBD or Melatonin Better for Sleeping as a Tired Adult?

New parents are notoriously sleep deprived. If this is your situation, you might be wondering whether it would be better to take CBD or melatonin as a sleep aid. Both can be highly beneficial for adults’ sleep, and it is even possible to use both sleep aids together. However, one or the other might be better for your unique situation.

If you are bed sharing with your baby, you absolutely should not take melatonin, according to the National Health Service in the UK. You also should hold off on taking melatonin until your doctors tells you it’s okay to do so; it is not advisable to take melatonin during pregnancy.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) advise against using CBD. This is because the baby will consume CBD through your breast milk, and initial research suggests that the newborn may also get a small dose of THC along with the CBD. This could potentially adversely affect your baby’s brain development.

Scientists have not yet done enough research to conclusively determine the extent to which harm could occur, and it is better to avoid the possible problems.

These are the most important things you need to know about safe co-sleeping with a new baby. We hope this information is helpful to you as you plan for your new arrival’s sleeping arrangements.

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