Google+ Authentic Parenting: Cosleeping Safety Guide

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cosleeping Safety Guide

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.

Are you a new parent? You want to cosleep with your baby, but you have heard it is dangerous, so you are hesitant. Or maybe you have been cosleeping but became doubtful after some criticism. (here are some responses if that happens again). Indeed, numerous campaigns have led us to believe to put a baby to sleep Alone, on his Back in a Crib. But for a breastfed baby, there is no better place in the world than close to his mother. If you respect these simple guidelines, cosleeping can be made perfectly safe.

General knowledge

  • Cosleeping mothers automatically adopt a protective position when sleeping with their infant, by bending a knee under the child and folding their hand under their head, thus creating a safe secluded sleeping space for the little one.
  • Cosleeping is extremely beneficial to the breastfeeding relationship, 
  • Both mother and baby get more sleep when cosleeping, since neither has to get out of the bed for feedings.
  • With your baby close to you, you will be able to detect the slightest change in temperature or breathing, and act quickly when he becomes ill.
Bedsharing or Cosleeping? General Guidelines

  • Air out your room for an extended period during the day.
  • Keep the room temperature moderate. Generally 16 degrees Celsius is recommended, but this is just not doable in some climats, so just assure a comfortable, fresh atmosphere.
  • Try to put your baby to sleep on his back.
If you have decided you will be bedsharing, you can put your baby either in between you and your partner, between you and the wall, discuss this with your partner and see if he is as aware of the baby as you are. If for some reason you decide to sleep alone with your child, you should always makes sure he cannot roll off the side you are not 'guarding' (a nursing pillow of the sausage kind may do the trick - this can also be very handy f you are flipping your baby from side to side to nurse at both breasts).
  • Reduce the bedding to a minimum: a small duvey (or sheet and blanket) and one pillow per adult. Your baby does not need his own pillow just yet (not recommended until the age of two, and even then, you'll see when your child is ready for a pillow).
  • Dress your baby lightly, go from what you are wearing and add no more than one piece of clothing to that. If you are sleeping in full length pyjama's, put your baby in a pyjama too. If however, you sleep in the nude, only put on his nappy, or maybe a light onesie (as cosleeping babies tend to be more on top of the duvey than underneath). Sleeping close to you, your baby will be warm enough and if he's feeling chilly, he'll just scoot over closer to you.
  • Check the bed for any splits the baby could roll into while he's sleeping and prop them up with sheets or towels. If you have a particularly hazardous bed, you could opt for a matress on the ground.
  • If you want your baby in bed with you, but are still a bit afraid, you could get a baby nest, which is a donut shaped semi soft matress for your baby. This puts your baby on a surface a little higher than you, and you can put him in between the pillows. You will have to be a little more awake to get him out for feeding though. 
Using a cosleeper
You can also opt for a cosleeper, if it makes you or your partner feel more secure. Also, when they learn to crawl, the cosleeper can act as a safe secluded space, as they tend to practice their acquisitions in their sleep.
You can get a special cosleeper that attaches to a side of your bed (they are usually quite small, so they won't last until your baby is two), or you can get a regular crib that has a removable side and put it next to the bed (preferrably in between the big bed and a wall, so it can not scoot away during the night), in this case, put a sheet or beach towel under both materesses, so your baby won't hurt himself on the wood when he comes over for a drink.
If you are using a cosleeper, it might be wise to put a thin blanket on your child (no duvey).

Cosleeping Don'ts

  • Do not smoke in a room where your child sleeps
  • Do not cosleep when you drank alcohol or have done drugs
  • Don't sleep with your infant on the couch
  • Do not sleep on a soft matress
  • It is not recommended for extremely obese people to cosleep, as obesity might induce sleep apnea.
  • It is not recommended for sitters or third parties to sleep with the baby, as their awareness is not the same as that of a mother.
  • Don't allow older siblings to sleep with an infant under nine months.

read on:
Sleeping In The Same Bed, The Breastfeeding Co-sleeping Connection

Image: Driki on Flickr



  1. Thank you for information on cosleeping safety - this is very important!
    Cosleeping with my new baby has helped me to get through the most "difficult" first month. My baby is three months old soon and is now happy sleeping in his Moses basket being swaddled. Can't praise swaddling enough - another authentic technique is a saviour of our quiet nights :-)

  2. You mention that it is ok to sleep with baby between you and the wall. I had understood that this was not a good idea as baby could potentially slip down between the mattress and the wall. I had learnt the rule that bed railsor a cosleeper should always be used if the baby is to sleep on the 'outboard' position of the bed.

  3. Just common sense, really. But sometimes, common sense varies from a person to another.

  4. Tami, you can cosleep with your baby wall side, you just have to make sure that there is no space between bed and wall, and to put a sheet or towel in the crack between the matress and the wall. But personally I much prefer to have her between us.
    The wall option however is a good option for women with a heavy sleeping partner. Some men are just not aware that there is a baby in the bed and then it is much much better to have the baby against the wall

  5. I just stumbled across your blog and I love it.


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