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There is a ton of information out there about crib sleeping and bed-sharing, and it can be a bit overwhelming. At Birthify, we believe knowledge is power and aim to offer all of the facts and safety measures so that you can make the best decision for your newborn. See our article on crib sleeping titled "Sleepy Times Dos and Don'ts."
What is Co-Sleeping?
Often the term "bed-sharing" and "co-sleeping" are used interchangeably; however, they are not the same. Co-sleeping simply means you are sharing a room with your baby, which could include sharing a bed, too.
How to Safely Bed-Share with Your Newborn
Ensure pillows, sheets, blankets, and comforters are away from your baby. Ensure the space in which your little one will be sleeping is clear of anything that could affect their breathing or cause them to become entangled if they change positions. Dress your baby in light or minimal clothing.
Have the right mattress. Water beds, memory foam beds, and extremely soft beds might increase the risk of suffocation in newborns. A more firm and standard mattress is typically a safer option.
Properly position your baby so they do not fall off the bed. Avoid putting your baby too close to the side of the bed, even if it is flushed to the wall. This will reduce the risk of getting caught between the mattress and the wall or the bed frame. Make certain your baby is sleeping on their back.
Avoid having any pets on or in the bed. Ensure all the pets are outside of the room with the door closed. If you have other older children, have them sleep in their room while you are bed-sharing with your newborn.
Be aware of tobacco, drug, or alcohol use. If you or your partner is a smoker, it is best that you do not expose your newborn to harmful chemicals by sleeping with them and bed sharing during or after smoking. In addition, if you have been drinking, using drugs, or feel extremely tired, consider crib sleeping.
Never let them sleep alone. One or more parents must be present the entire night to ensure the baby's safety while bed sharing.
Take caution with high-risk babies. Babies born prematurely or those with a low birth weight may be at high risk for SIDS.
Perhaps you want your little one close but not necessarily in the bed with you. It is not at all uncommon to share a room with your newborn. Plus, it makes those middle of the night feedings convenient! Simply keep a bassinet or a crib next to your bed so that you can still be close without sharing the same sleep surface.
When it comes to co-sleeping, the choice is yours, and we believe parents can know what is best for their families when armed with the facts. If you are not sure or need some extra support, consider a Perinatal Coach to help you with these tough decisions.
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