Like most bad habits, co-sleeping with your baby is easy to start but very hard to stop. When you feel excited about finally having your little one home with you after nine long months of waiting, the time apart at night will be difficult. Not only that, but your baby will also be wailing away in the crib, and resisting the urge to go comfort him is the hardest part of sleeping separately. You and your partner might finally decide to bring baby into bed for a night. It’ll seem harmless at first, and you might try it for another night, and then the following night. The next thing you know, you and your partner will be falling off each side of the bed every night while your baby sleeps comfortably in the middle. The best solution is to not get into the habit in the first place. However, if you start co-sleeping, it’s important that you know the risks.

While there are certainly benefits to sleeping in the bed with your infant, you are putting him at risk for suffocation by doing so. There is a greater chance he will position himself in a dangerous way, which could lead to SIDS. Even more likely, you could suffocate your infant by rolling on top of him while you sleep. These risks are great, and experts recommend letting your infant sleep in the same room as you if you want to be close. Keeping a bassinet by your bedside is much safer, and you can still tend to your baby immediately for nighttime feedings. No matter how careful you try to be while your baby is in bed with you, it’s impossible to control your own movements while sleeping, so don’t be too confident that you won’t accidentally harm your baby.

Think about all of the times you toss and turn in an average night. You fall asleep facing one way, and you wake up contorted in a new position entirely. Now imagine a baby in the bed with you. Where would he end up the next morning? It’s risky to sleep with your baby in bed, so avoid the risks completely by keeping a strict rule against it. If you and your partner feel tempted, bring a bassinet close to the bed instead. Besides, it won’t be that different because your infant will still be close and easy to console.

Source: Martin Weber et al: Autopsy Findings of Co-Sleeping Associated Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy: Relationship Between Pathological Features and Asphyxial Mode of Death. Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health Volume 48 Issue 4 pp. 335-341 April 2012

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