Move Over, Mom and Dad
Can Co-sleeping Work For Your Family?
The Family Bed Safety Checklist continued...
But many pediatricians, breast-feeding advocates and others harshly
criticized the results, claiming the study was unreliable in large part because
it didn't sufficiently consider underlying causes for the deaths or compare
like statistics for babies who slept in cribs.
If you do want to share their bed with your children, pediatric experts
recommend these safety precautions:
- Make sure your young baby sleeps on his back on a firm surface and avoid
placing him on top of soft, fluffy mattresses, waterbeds or comforters and
quilts. One of the major risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
is putting babies to sleep on their stomachs, especially on soft bedding or
- To avoid the risk of rolling onto your baby, never share a bed with any
infant or young child if you're intoxicated or on prescription or
over-the-counter medications that could interfere with your ability to awaken
easily, such as antidepressants, sleeping pills and some antihistamines.
Obesity is another risk factor for rollover accidents. If you are a smoker, you
probably shouldn't share a bed with your baby, because infants of smokers are
at increased risk of SIDS and childhood respiratory illnesses.
- Prevent your baby from falling off the bed by placing her between mom and a
guardrail, or between both parents. In "The Baby Book" (Little, Brown
and Company, 1993), Dr. Sears advises against the latter, saying fathers don't
exhibit the same keen awareness of a baby's presence while asleep.
- Make sure the headboard and footboard don't have openings in which a baby's
head or limbs could get caught.
One of the benefits of sleeping with your baby is that it's much easier to
handle nighttime feedings if you don't have to drag yourself out of bed to
rescue a hungry infant.
"We planned not to sleep with the baby," says Jessica Huff, a
mother of two from New York, "but within a week the baby was in the bed --
it was just so much easier." The choice between getting up to sit in a
chair and nurse or rolling over to do it was a no-brainer, she says.