The possible Risks of co Sleeping with a Baby

There are certain topics on which parents have strong opinions. Co-sleeping, or sharing a bed with a baby, is one such topic. For whatever reason, most parents feel either stongly for or against the practice, and although co-sleeping has been practiced for hundreds of years in cultures all over the world, the topic is still controversial and hotly debated.

Supporters of co-sleeping believe that sleeping next to the baby encourages breastfeeding and makes nighttime feeding more convenient for mother and child. They also believe that it helps babies fall to sleep better and awaken less during the night. They consider it a crucial time for bonding, especially for parents who may be away from the baby during the day.

Despite the perceived pros, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, warn that babies who sleep in adult beds with parents may be at risk for suffocation and/or strangulation.

There are four primary risks to co-sleeping:

* suffocation caused by an adult rolling on top of or next to a baby
* suffocation when an infant gets trapped or wedged between a mattress and headboard, nightstand, wall, or other rigid object
* suffocation resulting from a baby being face-down on a waterbed, a regular mattress, or on soft bedding such as pillows, blankets, or quilts
* strangulation in a headboard or footboard that allows part of an infant’s body to pass through an area while trapping the baby’s head

Because co-sleeping is an choice to be made on an individual basis by each parent, below are some suggestions to consider for co-sleeping with a greater degree of safety:

* Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS.
* Always leave your child’s head uncovered while sleeping.
* Make sure your bed’s headboard and footboard don’t have openings or cutouts that could trap your baby’s head.
* Make sure your mattress fits snugly in the bed frame so that your baby won’t become trapped in between the frame and the mattress.
* Don’t place a baby to sleep in an adult bed alone.
* Don’t use pillows, comforters, quilts, and other soft or plush items on the bed.
* Don’t drink or use medications or drugs that may keep you from waking and may cause you to roll over onto, and therefore suffocate, your baby.
* Don’t place your bed near draperies or blinds where your child could be strangled by cords.

If you do choose a co-sleeping arrangement for you and your baby, it is suggested that you have the baby transition to their own crib half-way through their first year. A six month old baby will transition better and more quickly to a crib then will a 2-3 year old toddler who has never slept alone and has become dependent on the presence of his parents in the same bed. For the parent who stills believes in a close proximity during bedtime, bring the crib into your bedroom for an additional phase in transition.