Bed Sharing

Bed Sharing with Babies: Safety First

How Do We Ensure the Baby’s Safety when Sharing the Bed?

Bed Sharing is when an infant sleeps in a grown-up bed with another adult

Safety Tips for Bed Sharing

For the longest time, parents and their babies have slept together for security, warmth and bonding. What’s more, is that this tradition is more than popular with multiple families. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has coined the term bed sharing. Bed Sharing is when a baby sleeps in a grown-up bed with another adult who is also asleep.

Usually, the advantages of bed sharing spring from longer-term breastfeeding and more rest for the parents. This explains why many mothers consider bed sharing as a practical alternative; while the infant feeds, the mom sleeps better. Babies have a natural need for contact and sharing space. They appreciate being embraced, and this sort of space sharing helps to address a child’s desire for warmth, consolation, and safety. But, is bed sharing safe?

Bed sharing can be hazardous. Grown-up beds are problematic when it comes to babies and their safety. Parents who toss and turn may lie on the child, leading to suffocation in the bed sharing blankets, or the baby could roll over and get entrapped in the spaces of a not-so tightly fitting mattress. A newborn could even tumble off the bed altogether. Lots of research has concluded that bed sharing raises the danger of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Premature babies and newborns in their initial three months of life and particularly those born with low birth weight – are especially delicate. They have undeveloped skills of motion and very little strength, causing difficulty if they try to save themselves from any bed sharing dangers. So, is bed sharing dangerous?

Well, each circumstance determines our reaction. One can never be perfect or 100% safe. Everybody adjusts to risks in unexpected ways. Take the information we present and use your motherly instincts to choose what’s best for the baby and your family.

So here are some inspiring changes to think about as you make bed sharing possible.

1.     Let them Sleep on their Back

sleeping children

Put your child on their back to sleep, never on their stomach or side

Above everything else, place them on their back as they rest. When your baby turns 2 months old, you may stop swaddling them or even earlier if the infant is giving signs of rolling on the bed. Never lay them on their stomach or side, instead lay the baby on their back. Also, avoid covering their heads as they sleep.

2.     Room Sharing vs Bed Sharing

Bed sharing vs crib sleeping is the big debate here. Room sharing can help forestall SIDS and supports easy breastfeeding. Additionally, room sharing doesn’t imply that children can’t have a predictable sleep time and sleep time schedule. But, the advantages of room sharing lessen when room sharing becomes bed sharing, or when different guidelines of safe sleep get broken. So, if you want to know how to stop bed sharing, consider treating a little distance from your baby as a good thing

3.     Check Mattress Location

At what position of the room have you placed the bed? If you’re close to a wall or household furniture as you are bed sharing, check and try pulling it away from objects that could pin the baby if they tumble off the bed. Let the mattress be tight fitting to the frame of your bed. Consider placing your bed sharing mattress down on the carpet and keep the little one safe from falls

4.     Mattress Only

comfortable bed

If your infant dozes off, move them to a firm sleep surface on their back

Inspect your mattress. Is it excessively soft? Does it indent if you lay a baby on it? Avoid waterbeds or anything extremely soft a baby could drown in– for instance, a wooly duvet or pillows.

Never place your child to rest on a sofa, or easy chair. Couches, hammocks, recliners, and overstuffed chairs are not advisable for safe baby sharing.  They are terrible comfort spots for your baby to sleep. If your baby dozes off somewhere outdoor perhaps in their stroller, a park swing, the car seat, or sling, quietly move them to a firm bed surface at the earliest opportunity.

5.     Clear Everything from the Bed

What things have you placed on your bed sharing space? Is it full of covers, pillows, pets, a spouse, the other kids, and other things? Get them all out of there. A sleeping space away from anything that could block their little mouth and nose is all that the baby needs. Don’t use cushions, comforters, heavy quilts, and other comfy things while bed sharing. Dressing them in a sleeper will solve most of your problems.

6.     Tell Your Partner

soothing baby

A caution for those who may accidentally fall asleep when bed sharing with a baby

Each person in the bed should know that a baby is bed sharing each time it happens. If bed sharing is your first choice, then your spouse will know about this from the beginning. This is a caution for partners that may fall asleep bed sharing with a baby they are unaware is there. It feels illogical to wake your partner to tell them you’re carrying the baby to bed but believe us when we say, it helps everybody rest better! It increases the wellbeing of your kid if everybody knows they are bed sharing with you.

7.     Vaccination

baby vaccination

50% lower risk of dying from SIDS

Be sure that your baby gets all the suggested shots. Research has shown that infants who get their immunizations cut their risk of dying from SIDS while bed sharing in half.

8.     No Drugs

Avoid drinking liquor, using prescription drugs or drugs of abuse as they reduce your consciousness or may cause you to lie on your baby and probably asphyxiate them. Smoking while bed sharing is a major danger factor for SIDS.

One of the baby must haves is a crib to place next to your bed for nights when you had to have a glass or two of wine. That means the child sleeps independently from you. When you can’t completely wake up, it’s risky to continue bed sharing with them.

9.     Check their Temperature

sleeping baby

Don’t wrap up your infant in many clothes when bed sharing

Odds are, it’s not the Arctic in your home. Give the baby one extra layer of clothes than you would wear. Avoid swaddling the infant in many clothes when bed sharing. The increasing temperature is a danger factor for SIDS, and a restricted baby can’t successfully lift blankets from their covered head or use their little feet and arms to wave in the air for help from the adult beside them.

Place them to the side, never in the center of two grown-ups sharing the bed or close to other kids or pets. They may suffocate or get overheated. They may show this by feeling hot to the touch or sweating. Letting them sleep in a one-piece instead of covering them too much will prevent overheating.

10.  Sleep Training

The AAP’s suggestion that newborns stay with their parents, sharing their bed until they are six months old may kill any remaining chance of getting a good rest. That’s where bed sharing and sleep training helps balance it out.

Sleep training means encouraging the baby to fall back asleep by themselves if they themselves awake at night. The objective is for you both to get more rest, even though you may need to manage a few tears as you try to stop bed sharing.

At 4- to 6 months old, the baby is ready to start sleep training because by then, they don’t need evening time feedings and therefore less need for sharing.

11.  Check Your Baby’s Age

Children 0-4 months old are at a higher danger of SIDS. Those infants below 4 months of age are too young to be bed sharing. They may sleep in a crib or bassinet next to the bed. Don’t let the older kids sleep next to a baby younger than a year.

12.  Get a Pacifier

baby with a pacifier

Put your child to bed with a pacifier during the first year of life

The AAP advises parents to buy a pacifier for bedtime since research shows it decreases the danger of SIDS. However, parents should dodge the use of gadgets promoted to reduce the risk of SIDS because currently there is no supporting proof that they work. While bed sharing, give your baby a pacifier for bedtime in their first year of life. If your child dismisses the pacifier, don’t insist they use it. If the pacifier drops out during a night of bed sharing just let it be. Wait till they can successfully breastfeed.

One may ask, when should bed sharing stop? The appropriate answer is one that regularly doesn’t sit well with parents. Most kids will normally need to stop bed sharing somewhere in the range of three and seven years old. There will always be occasions when they want to be near you once more, especially when sick or feeling low. Don’t be frightened to let them sleep with you again for a few days of sharing the bed when they ask.

13.  Other Possible Dangers

Your long hair can be tied up and eliminate any choking hazards, including all jewelry and small toys. A parent who is a deep sleeper or large in size and can’t feel when the baby is close should let the child sleep close by but allow no bed sharing.

Conclusion

To continue sharing sleep time with your baby for longer, you need to follow these safe bed sharing tips. Laying down with your baby is a personal decision. If you’re experiencing difficulty creating a bedtime plan that is okay for the baby, consult your pediatrician. Since most parents can’t avoid bed sharing out of love for their children, making those moments safe must be our priority.

How do you plan to use this information now or in the near future? 

Author’s bio: Laura Casey is a blogger, mother, and housewife who shares her vast experience in parenting, motherhood, and pregnancy. Her articles have already helped a lot of people who deal with parenting. She draws inspiration from raising kids and Motherhood itself. She believes that Parenthood can connect people all over the world.

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