Safely co-sleep with your baby

Sleeping together with your baby in one bed, also called ‘co-sleeping’, has many advantages. You do not have to leave your bed while breastfeeding and your baby does not feel alone. However, paying close attention to safety when co-sleeping with your baby is important. 

It is safe to sleep together. But sleeping together is no longer safe if you take certain medications or are excessively overweight. The temperature in the bedroom also plays a big role in safety, as does the material of the bed. In this article, you will read how you can sleep safely together with your baby.

Health and lifestyle habits

If you want to co-sleep, it’s essential to scrutinize your own health and lifestyle habits as well as those of your (bed)partner.

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Co-sleeping isn’t safe when:

  • You smoked during pregnancy. If you or your (bed)partner smokes, never fall asleep with your baby near you. Smoking increases the risk of crib death.
  • You have been drinking alcohol.
  • You take medications or other drugs that make you sleepy and less alert.
  • You have an illness or condition that may make you less aware of your sleeping baby.
  • You are exhausted and therefore may be less responsive to your sleeping baby.
  • You are excessively overweight.

It’s best not co-sleep with your baby for the first few months if:

  • Your baby is born prematurely
  • Your baby has a fever.

This way you can co-sleep safely

When co-sleeping with your baby, it is important to pay close attention to the temperature in the bedroom and the material of the bed such as the mattress and pillows.

  • Make sure you have a firm mattress. A soft mattress and a water bed are not suitable for co-sleeping.
  • Make sure your baby cannot fall out of bed.
  • Put your baby to sleep on its back.
  • Make sure your baby can’t get a blanket, or pillow over its head.
  • Make sure your baby does not get too hot. Don’t dress him in too many clothes. The ideal bedroom temperature is between 60.80°F and 64.40°F.
  • Never let your baby sleep on its own in an adult bed.
  • Both you and your bed partner need to know that the baby is sleeping in the same bed as you. 
  • If you co-sleep with multiple children, make sure you or your (bed)partner are between the baby and the older child.
  • Do not let pets sleep in the same bed as your baby.
  • Never sleep with your baby on the couch or in a lounge chair; it is not safe.

Source: Sharing a bed with your baby – a guide for breastfeeding mothers. Unicef UK baby friendly initiative in coörporation with Foundation for the study of infant deaths

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