The No Cry Sleep Solution, Second Edition
Checklist for Safe Co-Sleeping & Bedsharing (Excerpt)
Those in favor of bed-sharing believe that it can be done safely, and many millions of parents do safely share sleep with their babies. I’ve researched a wide array of available information on this topic to compile the safety list that follows.
To create a safe sleeping environment for your child, I recommend that if your baby sleeps with you, or any adult, either for naps or at nighttime, you should adhere to the listed safety guidelines. This list contains all the safety items I’m currently are aware of, but you should watch the news for ongoing research and news about this subject.
Safety List – Precautions for Bed-sharing
- It is much wiser to create a safe condition in an adult bed than to fall asleep on a sofa, recliner or chair with your baby in your arms, or lying on you, which all carry a high level of risk.
- Bed-share only with a healthy, full-term infant, or an older baby.
- If you choose to bed-share with a newborn it’s important that you breastfeed your baby, as the breastfeeding mother-infant pair is considered safest for infant co-sleeping.
- Avoid bed-sharing if either parent is a smoker, because second-hand smoke and smoke residue can affect a baby’s developing lungs and increase the risk of SIDS.
- Your bed must be absolutely safe for your baby. The best choice is to place the mattress on the floor, making sure there are no crevices that your baby can become wedged in. Make certain your mattress is flat, firm, and smooth. Do not allow your baby to sleep on a soft surface such as a waterbed, beanbag, soft pillow-top, or any other flexible surface.
- Make certain that your fitted sheets stay secure and cannot be pulled lose.
- If your bed is raised off the floor, use mesh guardrails to prevent your baby from rolling off the bed, and be especially careful that there is no space between the mattress and headboard or footboard. (Many guardrails are designed for older children and are not safe for infants because they have gaps that small babies can get stuck in.)
- If your bed is placed against a wall or against other furniture, check every night to be sure nothing has shifted to create a space between the mattress and wall or furniture where your child could become stuck. Make this part of your bedtime routine.
- The majority of professionals agree that newborns should be placed between Mother and the wall or guardrail. Yes, of course Father, siblings, caregivers and grandparents love your new baby every bit as much as Mother does! Once baby is a bit older it will be safe, but science shows that others don’t have the same instinctual awareness of an infant’s location as mothers do. Mothers, pay attention to your own sensitivity to Baby. Your little one should be able to awaken you with a minimum of movement or noise – often even a sniff or grunt is enough to wake a mother sleeping next to her baby. If you find that you are such a deep sleeper and you only wake up when your baby makes a loud cry, you should consider moving Baby into a bed-side cradle or crib.
- Use a large, firm mattress to provide ample room for everyone’s space and movement.
- With a premature newborn, or a newborn with special needs, you might consider a sidecar arrangement in which child’s crib, bed or mattress sits beside or close to your bed. Many 3-sided co-sleepers are now available to give Baby a designated space of their own attached to your bed.
- Well before your child reaches their first birthday make certain that the room your child sleeps in, and any room they might have access to, is child-safe. (Imagine your child crawling out of bed as you sleep. Even though they’re too young now, time passes quickly, and they eventually will!)
- Do not ever sleep with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol, if you have used any drugs or medications that could make you drowsy or affect your senses, if you are ill and unable to respond to your baby’s needs, if you are an especially sound sleeper or if you are suffering from sleep deprivation and find it difficult to awaken.
- Never swaddle your baby when bed-sharing. Your baby’s arms and legs should be free to move about. In addition, swaddling during bed-sharing can increase the risk of overheating.
- Do not sleep with your baby if you are a large person, as a parent’s excess weight has been determined to pose a risk to child in a bed-sharing situation. Examine how you and child settle in next to each other. If your child rolls towards you, or there is a large dip in the mattress, or if you suspect any other dangerous situation, play it safe and move your child to a bedside crib or his own bed.
- Remove pillows and blankets during the newborn period. (You might be able to use a small, firm pillow under your own head.)
- Do not wear any nightclothes with strings or long ribbons. Don’t wear jewelry to bed, and if your hair is long, put it up.
- Don’t use any strong-smelling perfumes or lotions that may affect your baby’s delicate senses.
- Do not allow other children or pets to sleep in bed with your newborn. Save this treat for when your child is older.
- Until your baby is past the newborn stage, when not actively breastfeeding they should be sleeping on their back, the safest position during the newborn sleep.
- Never leave your baby alone in an adult bed unless that bed is perfectly safe for your child, such as a mattress on the floor in a childproof room, and when you are nearby or listening in on your child with a reliable monitor.
- As of this writing there are no proven safety devices for use in protecting a baby in an adult bed. However, as a result of the great number of parents who wish to bed-share safely with their babes a number of new inventions are appearing in baby catalogs and stores. You may want to look into some of these nests, wedges, and cradles – but check the safety factors, watch the news and do your homework. Just because something is sold does not ensure that it is safe, and as of this writing there are no devices deemed safe for use in the family bed.
Excerpt from The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution (McGraw-Hill, 2020).
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