Although it is widely practiced in other countries around the world, co-sleeping with a baby is not as widespread here. A lot of parents choose to have their child sleep in a bassinet or cot either in the room with them, or in their own room.
But many mums and dads do choose to co sleep – but there must be awareness around safety and the risks of doing so – you can also read the SIDS guidelines here
safe co sleeping

Why Co-Sleep?

  1. It can help encourage breastfeeding to establish or continue, as the mother and baby are right next to each other allowing for easy access to milk.
  2. Mum can get a bit more rest, as she doesn’t need to get up and go to another room to feed in a chair, which can wake her up more. Many mothers find that once baby latches on in a safe side-feeding position, they both end up falling asleep again.
  3. When baby sleeps next to mum, their heart rate, temperature, and breathing rates tend to be better than sleeping alone.
  4. If baby has any trouble breathing, or is ill, has their mum right there if they need any intervention
  5. A baby that is unsettled and hard to get to sleep will be comforted by their mum being right there, which could lead to a better night’s sleep for all.
  6. If you find that co-sleeping isn’t for you, there is also an option to purchase a special co-sleeping bed that fits against your bed. This way baby is right there, but not on your mattress.

Tips For Safer Co-Sleeping

While co-sleeping is still considered to give your baby a higher risk of suffering from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and it is not therefore recommended – if you do choose to co-sleep, there are ways that you can do it that can improve the safety of it. These do not make it 100% safe to co-sleep with your baby, but if you decide to give it a go for the reasons outlined above, these are the steps you should follow.

1) Don’t wrap them

If a baby ends up on their tummy or side they have no way of turning over or lifting their head up, which is a suffocation risk.

2) Use a safe sleeping bag

This allows you to keep the doonas, sheets and blankets off your baby which can easily end up over their head.

3) Ensure the mattress is firm and big enough

You want to ensure that there is enough space for everyone in the bed to be comfortable. The bed should be firm to touch so that the baby doesn’t sink down too far – and never co-sleep in a water bed.

4) Keep the bed clear of clutter

Keep your sheets pulled tight and get rid of any unnecessary cushions or stuffed animals which will keep your baby’s risk of choking to a minimum.

5) Ensure baby sleeps on their back

As per the SIDS guidelines, a baby should always be put on their back to sleep.

6) Avoid putting baby in between two adults

The baby can end up getting covered by blankets or doonas in this situation, and they can get very hot with all that body heat. Place them next to their mum on the side, ensuring that the bed is against a wall so that baby can’t fall out. You can wedge a body pillow in between the bed and the wall to reduce the chance of your baby slipping down the side.

7) Ensure the adults are not smokers or under the influence

This is important as it means that the parent will be able to hear and respond to the baby as needed. Children of smokers have a higher risk of SIDS than non smokers.

8) Keep other kids out of the bed

While a mother can generally feel where her baby is, even when sleeping, an older child in the bed doesn’t have the same instincts and may accidentally roll on to the baby.

9) Keep the sides and floor safe

Ensure that baby can’t fall out of bed by keeping them close to you with enough room for them to move about. You can also place cushions or another mattress on the floor if you are worried about them falling out. Some parents decide to lower their bed for the duration of the co-sleeping so that falls aren’t an issue.
Please also read the SIDS guidelines for sleeping with a baby here  

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