How should I sleep with my baby? Frequent questions about co-sleeping and bed-sharing
A lot of our users have asked us about sleep and babies, and to no surprise, because nights and breastfeeding are two of the issues that most concern families with babies (remember that we consider them to be babies from 0 to 3 years old).
Today the issues are co-sleeping and bed-sharing. A surprisingly controversial topic in Western culture, both for families and the scientific community, despite the fact that major health organizations such as WHO and UNICEF recommend and promote their benefits. In addition, they help to maintain breastfeeding because it allows us to rest more and maintain our milk production thanks to night-time feedings.
But one thing is to talk about co-sleeping and bed-sharing in general and another thing is to talk about all the doubts that come to us when we put them into practice. So we are going to try to reassure you about all of these doubts, or at least those that concern you the most.
Are there any different ways of co-sleeping and bed-sharing?
In Spanish, the word colecho does not distinguish between sleeping in the same bed (bed-sharing) with the baby or doing it in a co-sleeping crib or sidecar crib. On the other hand, in English it is different: “Co-sleeping” is to sleep in close proximity to the baby, but not necessarily in the same bed, and “bed-sharing” is to share the same bed.
In my opinion, it’s an important nuance because we often think we either sleep in the same bed or we have to leave the baby in a crib, and often none of the options convince us. The first one doesn’t convince us because we are afraid to crush or hit the baby; and the second one because we don’t want a physical barrier between us, or we are uncomfortable having to incorporate ourselves into each feeding.
The option of attaching a bed or crib to our mattress (with the correct safety measures) is an intermediate option that families choose, especially the first few weeks, or in case that do not comply with all the safety requirements for a safe bedding.
I have heard that for the first 3 months bed-sharing it is not safe, is it true?
There is a lot of debate, discussion and contradictions among the scientific community about this stage. The evidence is not clear. Some studies point to more risk, others point to information bias and systematic errors in previous evidence.
There is no clear evidence. What is unanimous is that from 0 to 3 months, co-sleeping by sidecar is safe and beneficial.
Dad wants to sleep with the baby, is it safe?
The evidence tells us that breastfeeding protects against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), that co-sleeping and bed-sharing help to maintain breastfeeding and that the safest thing for the first 3 months is sleeping with a sidecar crib. So our recommendation is that during these first three months the mother is the person who must sleep with the baby with a sidecar crib. From there, and respecting the rules for safe co-sleeping and bed-sharing, sharing a bed with your baby should not be unsafe.
My family and friends insist that if I sleep with the baby, he’ll be attached to my breast all night and I won’t get any rest.
Babies don’t wake up because of the breast, they wake up because their sleep architecture is very different from ours. The phrase “sleeps like a baby” is not very accurate, the truth is that it is very common for babies to wake up at night many months beyond their birth because of a maturity factor. Breastfeeding is an excellent way to help them fall back asleep for them and for us.
In fact, there is a study that states that mothers who breastfeed their babies sleep 45 minutes more at night than those who bottle-feed.
What are the standards for safe co-sleeping and safe bed-sharing?
-The baby should sleep on their back, never on their side or on their front.
-The mattress should be flat and firm. Do not use a water or air mattresses.
-Do not sleep on a sofa.
-Make sure your baby cannot fall out of bed or be trapped in a hole.
-Avoid the use of pillows, blankets with hair, quilts, cushions, anti-tip pillows, stuffed animals, etc…
-Check that nothing can cover the baby’s head.
-Avoid overdressing or underdressing the baby.
-Do not sleep in the same bed if you are a smoker or if your partner is a smoker.
-Never smoke in the bedroom.
-Do not sleep with the baby if you have used alcohol, drugs, sleeping pills, or medication that alters your level of consciousness and your ability to react.
-Don’t share a bed if you have a condition that decreases the level of response, such as diabetes or unstable epilepsy.
-Do not sleep in the same bed if you are very tired or if someone has a fever.
-Do not allow pets to share a bed with the baby.
-There is a higher incidence of SIDS in premature or underweight babies (sharing a bed).
-Breastfeeding is a protective factor for SIDS
We have renewed the entire section on sleep and breastfeeding in the app. You will find answers to your questions in:
Main screen > Our breastfeeding > Sleep and breastfeeding