Safer Bedsharing Guidelines for Cosleeping Families
If you would like to share a bed with your baby always make sure that it is an informed decision and one that has been fully discussed and planned with all members of the household. The following is a list of guidelines that should always be followed to minimise any risks to your baby:
1. The mother should be breastfeeding. If the baby is formula fed it is not safe to bedshare with them, they should have their own sleep surface, such as a cosleeper crib.
2. Both parents should be non-smokers and the mother should not have smoked during her pregnancy either.
3. Neither parents should have consumed alcohol.
4. Neither parents should have consumed recreational or prescription drugs, including post-birth painkillers.
5. Neither parents should be ‘excessively tired’ (some experts believe this to be less then 5 hours sleep in last
24hrs, while others say this should be left to the parent to decide based upon their own instinct).
6. The mother should always sleep between her partner (and any older siblings) and the baby. The baby should never be in the middle of the bed, only the mother possesses a special ability to easily arouse to her infant and not roll onto them.
7. Always ensure that the sleeping surface is firm. Never fall asleep with a baby on a sofa, bean bag or waterbed. Avoid memory foam mattresses too.
8. Prevent the baby from rolling onto the floor, if possible sleep on a mattress on the floor, or a futon style bed.
9. Keep all pillows well away from the baby. The baby should always sleep at the same level as the mother’s breasts, not her head.
10. The mother should lie on her side and form a protective frame around baby with her body.
11. Keep duvets and blankets well away from the baby to prevent the risk of smothering. Many mothers sleep in onesies or dressing gowns to keep themselves warm.
12. Ensure the baby does not overheat, dress in appropriate clothing, such as a babygro and a sleeping bag.
13. Make sure both parents tie any long hair back and do not wear nightclothes with loose ties or belts.
14. Consider a separate sleeping surface if the baby is small for age or is premature.
15. Consider a separate sleeping surface if the mother is significantly overweight.
By Sarah Ockwell-Smith – Our resident Baby and Toddler Expert.