Your baby has been crying for hours in the middle of the night.† Nothing will calm her.
Finally, she settles in your arms but awakens and screams the minute you set her in her crib.† Out of exhaustion, you take her into bed with you and both you and baby snuggle in for a cozy sleep.
Except for North America and Europe, most people in countries around the world sleep with their children.† The trend is also increasing in Canada, although many parents donít like to admit to the practice.† †They worry about safety concerns and advice from friends and relatives that once their baby is in bed with them, theyíll never get her out.† But the reality is that most parents will sleep with their baby at some point in time whether for a temporary period or an on-going practice.† Whether for half the night while getting the baby to sleep, or getting more sleep during the early hours of the morning, or for snuggling in at naptimes, more babies are sleeping with their parents.†† Baby could be teething, sick, have night terrors, nightmares or just need more nightime parenting.† Holidays are also a time when there is no crib and parents must share sleep surfaces.†† How can parents make it safe?
An adult bed is just like an automobile; both are not custom made for infants.† For cars, we have invented carseats to reduce the risk of injury and death while travelling.†† For beds, we also have safety recommendations to reduce the risk while baby and parent are sleeping together.†
There are basically two ways to have a safer sleep-sharing experience.† Some parents try the sidecar approach. They put the crib in the master bedroom with one crib side down.† The lowered crib side is moved right next to the bed.† This is called co-sleeping. Other parents just get rid of the box spring and put a king size mattress down on the floor so there is no danger of falling. Just as adults are aware of the edges of their beds and seldom fall off, mothers and babies become attunely aware of each other as they sleep, so rolling over on baby is not common.† This is called the family-bed.† Many products are on the market that can be used by baby to sleep between parents and make bed-sharing safer. The risks of suffocation, wedging and entrapment and falling can be reduced by the following tips:
∑ Never put baby to bed on an adult bed without supervision. Babies can easily roll over "pillow barriers" even at a month of age.
∑ Never sleep with baby while under the influence of drugs, prescription drugs and/or alcohol, or if partner is under the influence of the same. If parents are really, really tired, ( and hence, sleep soundly) it might not be a good idea to share beds for the night.
∑ Never leave baby unattended on an adult bed.
∑ Keep pillows, comforters, stuffed animals and sheets away from baby.† Dress baby in a warm fleece sleeper and Mom in a warm cotton turtleneck so the upper body doesnít get cold and you donít need blankets or comforters to cover up.
∑ Tie back long hair and fasten up.
∑ Make sure sheets are fitted under the mattress.
∑ Always put baby on her back to sleep on a firm surface.
∑ Avoid siblings in the same bed. † If siblings do share a bed, Mom should sleep between sibs and baby. Avoid pets in the bed.
∑ If using a bed with legs, make sure the spacing between headboard and footboard is no more then currently allowed for mattress-crib spacing in safety approved cribs.
∑ If mom or dad smoked during the pregnancy, or since the birth, avoid sleep sharing.
∑ Mattress must be firm, and ideally flat on the floor.
∑ Never sleep on couches, overstuffed chairs or sofas, waterbeds or hide-a-beds.
∑ Never cover up babyís face.
∑ The mattress should not be against a wall or furniture because baby could become entrapped.
∑ Baby should not sleep between mom and dad due to overheating produced from both bodies.† Sleeping between mom and end of the mattress on the floor is the safest.
∑ Avoid strings and ties on babyís and parentís nightclothes.
∑ Avoid overheating the room and baby.
∑ Avoid sleeping near window treatment cords that could strangle the baby. Accessible windows could pose a falling risk.
∑ Avoid using bed rails for infants under one year.
No infant sleep environment is 100% safe.† But by following the safety recommendations for cribs or co-sleeping, we can greatly reduce the risks.