Is There Any Way To Safely Sleep With A Baby In Bed?


January 9, 2024

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Many parents choose to share the same bed with their infant. After all, who wouldn’t love to cuddle with their little one?

It is, in fact, quite natural if you want to sleep in close proximity to your child. The practice is convenient for a lot of parents, especially if they need to feed their baby during the night. It also helps the little one fall asleep faster.

However, expert opinions are somewhat divided on this topic, primarily due to the fact that bed-sharing may lead to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This is a major cause of infant mortality in developed countries such as Australia.

So, is there a safe way to sleep with a baby in bed? That’s what we’ve addressed in this guide. If you are a concerned parent yourself, dive in!

Bed-Sharing Vs. Co-Sleeping - What’s The Difference?

Before we delve deeper into it, let’s address some of the basics, starting with the difference between bed-sharing and co-sleeping. Many people use these terms interchangeably, but contrary to popular belief, they are not the same thing.

Co-sleeping is a practice where you sleep in close proximity to the baby, either in the same bed or in the same room. So, if your baby sleeps in the same room as you but in a separate bed or a cot, it can be considered to be co-sleeping.

Bed-sharing, on the other hand, is a practice where you let the baby sleep on the same bed as you. In essence, it is a form of co-sleeping where the parents and the child share a single bed. It is in this situation that the risk of sudden unexpected death rises drastically.

What Is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?

SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, is a medical condition that leads to the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of a healthy infant. The exact biological cause of SIDS is presently not known; however, certain risk factors have been observed to increase the chances of sudden unexplained infant death considerably. These factors are listed below:

  • The baby was born prematurely or had a low birth weight
  • The parents are tired or unwell
  • The baby is less than six months old
  • One or both of the parents smoke
  • Both of the parents drink alcohol or take drugs
  • The child sleeps on the parents’ bed

The last factor mentioned is bed-sharing, and it is the most critical one out of all the others since sudden infant deaths usually occur when asleep. Of course, there may be a combination of other factors that lead to this condition, but bed-sharing is arguably the most common factor for SIDS.

How Can You Sleep Safely With Your Baby In An Adult Bed?

If you ask any expert, they will strongly advise against bed-sharing. This is because adult beds have many associated safety risks, such as a soft surface, loose bedding materials and so on. All of these increase the chances of asphyxiation and strangulation of the baby. 

However, if you have no other choice than to bed share, then there are certain precautions that you need to follow. These will ensure that your little one does not have any problems sleeping on adult bedding. 

First off, you need to remove any stuffed animals, soft pillows, quilts or loose bedding from the sleeping surface. And make sure the mattress is firm enough, and there is nothing soft underneath it, such as lamb’s wool underlay. This will reduce the chances of your baby suffocating while sleeping.

Next, you need to make sure that your infant always sleeps on their back, not on their side or tummy. This allows the sleeping baby to breathe freely at all times.

You should never swaddle or cover the baby’s face while sleeping since it naturally makes them feel hot and suffocated. Likewise, always dress the baby in light clothing to avoid overheating.

If you or your partner has long hair, you should always tie it at the back to prevent strangulation. Similarly, make sure that there are no gaps in the footboards or headboards that can trap your baby’s head.

While these measures do not guarantee a 100% safe sleep environment, they reduce the chance of SIDS considerably. And that is why you should strictly follow them when sleeping with your baby.

Other Alternatives To Bed-Sharing That You Can Try

No matter what you do, the risk of SIDS cannot be completely eliminated when bed-sharing. That is why you should try other co-sleeping methods which offer the same benefits but are safer than this practice.

One such alternative is room sharing, where you let the infant sleep in the same room but in a separate cot of their own. That way, you can get up to feed your baby conveniently in the middle of the night. It offers the same benefits as bed-sharing, minus the SIDS risk, which makes it a much better method to co-sleep with your baby.

You could also try sleep training your infant, which can help them to fall asleep faster and get more sleep. Additionally, it will help them to fall asleep without crying even if they suddenly wake up in the middle of the night.

Final Words

We understand that it is human nature to try and stay close to your infant at all times. But for your child’s sake, try to avoid sleeping with your baby in the same bed as much as possible. 

Never bed share unless and until there is no other choice. Even then, you should take the utmost care to make sure your baby is safe and comfortable. 

Your aim should always be to practise other alternatives that are much safer, a few of which have been mentioned in this article. These methods might just be good for the overall development of your baby.

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