Sign up

Sleeping With Baby

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.

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.

Parents may worry about safety concerns and get advice from friends and relatives that once their baby is in bed with them, they’ll 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 nap times. Baby could be teething, sick, have night terrors, and need nighttime parenting. Or you could be on holidays with no crib. How can parents make it safer?

An adult bed is just like an automobile; both are not custom-made for infants. For cars, we have invented car seats to reduce the risk of injury and death while traveling.

For beds, we have several safety recommendations to reduce the risk of suffocation, entrapment and falling while sleeping with baby:

  • Never put baby to bed on a waterbed.
  • Never sleep with baby while under the influence of drugs, prescription drugs and alcohol, or if partner is under the influence of the same.
  • 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 doesn’t get cold and you don’t 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.
  • Avoid siblings in the same bed. If siblings do share a bed, Mom should sleep between sibs and baby.
  • 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, avoid sleep sharing.
  • Mattress must be firm.
  • Never sleep on couches, overstuffed chairs or sofas, or hide-a-beds.
  • Never cover up baby’s 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 mattress on the floor is the safest.
  • Avoid strings and ties on baby’s and parent’s nightclothes.
  • Avoid overheating the room and baby.
  • Avoid sleeping near window treatment cords could strangle or 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.

As for the advice about never getting baby out of your bed, don't worry! Just as baby adapts to using a toilet from growing out of diapers, so can your baby adapt to sleeping alone when she's ready.

 
 
Judy is author of “Discipline Without Distress: 135 Tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery." She has also written many articles on parenting, published in various newspapers, and magazines. Combined with her 13 years of experience volunteering on the city’s crisis telephone lines, Judy has a broad understanding of the issues facing parents and relationships in the new millennium. She is a believer in helping parents make informed decisions based on research based parenting information. She can be reached at www.professionalparenting.ca or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2020 Calgary’s Child