One of the most common questions my clients at Goodnight Baby ask is about when they need to move their babies out of their room and out of their own little cots. In a more hushed tone it sometimes follows, as if they’re sharing a dirty little secret: “In fact, when should they get out of my bed?” While I am a sleep expert, you know your family and your child best and thus a decision about where your child needs to sleep is up to you. Or rather, it’s up to you and your partner… Unless you are a single parent. Discuss the pros and cons of why you want to do it or why it might not be best for your family.
It is common misconception that if you want your child to sleep, they need to sleep in their own room. I am here to tell you that sleep can happen either way, BUT if you choose to co-sleep or bed share with your child, you need to do it safely. The reality is that new research shows that co-sleeping with younger babies is associated with higher risk of Sudden Infant Death.
How to bed-share or co-sleep safely
Start them out in a co-sleeper
For newborns the safest option is to use a co-sleeper. But once your baby can sit up at around 5 months this is no longer a safe option as the open sides of the co-sleeper are quite low and your baby is top heavy. If your baby looks over the side of the co-sleeper she can fall out. It’s also the reason why you should move your cot to a lower level at around the same time.
Older kids can fall out of bed
Once your baby can roll and move around more (between 5 and 8 months), your bed can be dangerous and then it’s best for baby to sleep on a mattress or on a very low bed, because there’s still a chance that she can fall out. Adult beds are not designed to ensure baby’s safety.
Choose the right mattress
Make sure your mattress is firm and that there are no cracks or gaps between the headboard, footboard or sides where your baby can get wedged in.
Don’t overcrowd the bed
Co-sleeping is NOT safe with baby and/or pets and other children. Other children and pets cannot take on the responsibility of caring for an infant.
Make sure everyone knows
Never sneak a baby into your bed without your partner being aware of it. If you all co-sleep you must acknowledge and take responsibility and both should see themselves as primary caregivers.
Be wary of medication or substances
If you have taken sedatives, medication, drugs, or alcohol you should not co-sleep with your baby. Of course there are other considerations as well, such as you and your partner’s space and time and the influence on each other’s sleep (either it’s you waking up your baby, or your baby waking you or your partner unnecessarily). Choose what works best and is the safest for you all. Whatever you choose, you and your child can sleep with good sleep habits.