Every time a co-sleeping tragedy pops up in the news, it's followed by a host of comments from moms and dads who have been co-sleeping for years with no problems. Sharing a bed with baby, they say, is fine if you do it the right way!
It's a fair comment -- parents have shared the bed with baby for centuries, so it can't be all bad. But what exactly is the "right" way to co-sleep? What is safe co-sleeping? Is there really such a thing?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says no. The AAP even suggests breastfeeding moms put baby back in their crib after a night-time feed.
Still thinking about doing it? Some studies have shown it can be good -- especially for breastfeeding moms -- so it's really a mom's decision.
If you're on board, here are some guidelines experts say should definitely be followed.
1. Don't drink or use illegal substances while co-sleeping. Studies have found a link between SIDS, cosleeping and recent parental use of alcohol or drugs.
2. Don't co-sleep on the couch. Babies need firm surfaces to sleep on.
3. Avoid blankets and stuffed animals in the bed. What applies to a crib should also apply to the family bed -- these hazards are not conducive to safe sleep for baby.
4. Pull back long hair. I never thought of this one, but the experts at the University of Notre Dame's Behavioral Sleep Laboratory warn that a mother's long hair can actually get tangled around an infant's neck!
5. Make sure both parents are on board with co-sleeping. If your partner isn't comfortable with the idea of a family bed, find out WHY. Maybe they have a reason to think your baby won't be safe (do they move around in sleep a lot, for example?).
6. Don't co-sleep with older kids and a baby at once. The term family bed can be misleading. Experts generally warn against older children being in bed with infants and their parents because older kids might not be aware of the baby's presence and safety requirements.
7. Consider a co-sleeper. Babies don't have to be in the bed to be sharing a bedroom with you -- there are a number of co-sleepers out there that attach to the bed, allowing baby to be within arm's reach but protecting them from a parent rolling over on them, as well as offering that firm mattress and blanket-free space.
Do you co-sleep? What are your best co-sleeping tips?
Image via elisabet ottosson/Flickr