As many of you have read, I provide prenatal/newborn sleep consultations for new and expecting parents who are looking to start off their baby’s life with healthy sleep habits in mind. This is in addition to the sleep training consultations I offer for older infants and toddlers. I wish I had access to someone like me prior to my first daughter’s arrival because I definitely would have made this investment to gain the knowledge necessary to ensure my daughter slept safely and prop free.
While there are many different places that babies can fall asleep in (crib, bassinet, swing, car seat and rock n plays just to name a few), the safest places for your newborn to sleep is in a crib or bassinet. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep in the same room as a parent for the first 6 months of their life. This is an ideal situation and it can work for some families. But most often, by the time a baby is around 3 months old, they become very curious about the world around them and can often find it difficult to stay asleep at night due to their curiosity and the sounds that their parents are making while they sleep (cue daddy’s snoring). At this point, a move to a crib in their own room just across the hall from mommy and daddy may be what’s needed.
The Infant Co-sleeper: What You Need to Know
But for parents that are very committed to the idea of co sleeping with their child I make sure that they know the SIDS risks associated with bed sharing and how to possibly do it safely (see next paragraph). I’m also more than happy to discuss other opportunities to co sleep/share a room.
One of the frequently asked questions I am asked by my prenatal clients is what my recommendations are as far as co sleeping with babies and babies sleeping in the parent’s room. My advice regarding co sleeping with a baby is that you ensure your baby is sleeping in a safe space free of pillows, blankets, too soft mattresses and rolling or repositioning parents. The safest way to even begin to safely attempt to bed share with your baby is on the floor away from walls, on a firm mattress with no pillows or blankets and sans daddy. But this still is not a 100% guarantee that the baby will sleep safely considering a very tired mommy is sharing the bed. With this in mind, I do not advise parents to co-sleep in this manner and instead suggest a parent should seriously consider using a great alternative, a baby co-sleeper/bassinet.
Using a co sleeper/bassinet, parents can sleep soundly knowing that their baby is just within reaching distance. This option is great as it allows moms to breastfeed during the night without having to get up and get the baby. It is also convenient for if mommy needs to offer baby a reassuring careful touch to resettle baby back to sleep in the middle of the night.
I suggest that parents find a co sleeper that can attach to the bed for safety. It should also have the ability to raise the side closest to the bed to allow it to convert to a bassinet for naps and times when mommy will not be close by (some of those newborns can squirm quite a bit). I’ve noticed several brands out there that offer the ability to raise or lower the legs of the co sleeper so that it sits flush with even the highest of beds/mattresses. Some brands even fold up and come with a case so that you can bring it along with you on overnight trips or daytime visits where you can set it up for naps.
Co-sleeping – Different Strokes for Different Folks
Ultimately, the decision on where a child sleeps is up to their parents and their desires and requirements. What works for one family may not work for another and that is okay. My only concern is that I help all families that reach out to me to make informed, safe decisions about where their baby sleeps and, if one day they come to discover that their original sleeping plans no longer work for their family, I will be more than happy to help them decide upon and safe and healthy solution/alternative.