Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
23 Jan

Co-Sleeping: How to Do It Safely

babymotherLast week, I broached the topic of co-sleeping. The reception was almost unanimously positive, with plenty of you chiming in with your own c0-sleeping success stories. Before you toss the crib, however, realize that co-sleeping isn’t as simple as flopping down in bed with your baby and drifting off to sleep. Co-sleeping is a healthy, effective, and arguably “natural” way to raise independent children, but it must be done safely. Remember those studies I cited last week where co-sleeping was associated with infant deaths? Yeah, when co-sleeping is done poorly or incorrectly or unsafely, it becomes an effective way to harm children. Sadly, most parents no longer have access to the “village,” that treasure trove of knowledge full of parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and infinite cousins with parenting advice for days, so we read books, and articles, and magazines, and blogs for tips and knowledge. These aren’t the same, sure, but they are helpful in their own way. Certainly better than left to fend for ourselves.

So, how does one co-sleep safely?

First off, let’s go over what not to do. Let’s identify unsafe co-sleeping. It may sound like a lot of don’ts, but c’mon – these are our kids!

Co-Sleeping DON’Ts

Do not smoke, drink, or use drugs that affect judgment and awareness (prescription, illegal, or over the counter – think Tylenol PM), especially before bed.

Overlaying (where a sleeping parent absentmindedly rolls over onto the child) is a rare occurrence that pretty much only happens when the parent is too messed up to wake up and realize they’ve just rolled over onto a small human. A sober, alert parent will wake up if it ever happens. Heck, I sometimes have to hide the ball from Buddha (my lab) in bed at night to keep him from pestering me to toss it, and if I roll over onto it, I wake up in a flash. A huge part of the benefit of co-sleeping is the increased awareness of the baby’s position and status, but being inebriated removes that entirely.

Avoid tobacco altogether. 

You know how when a smoker comes into the room, you know it just from sniffing? That smell only lingers because the smoke itself – with all the tars and toxins – lingers on the clothes, in the hair, and on the skin of the person who smokes. Now imagine how much of that smoke the baby will be ingesting, and just how little smoke is needed to hurt the little thing. This goes for mom, dad, and, you know what? Just make the entire house smoke-free and don’t let people smoke around the baby. They’re a lot more sensitive to the stuff than we are.

Don’t let babies sleep next to other children or pets.

As sensitive as your dog is, there’s a good chance he’ll think nothing of walking all over this strange new creature in the night, scratching its tender feet, or laying a fluffy tail across its nasal passageway. Toddlers, who are even less thoughtful than dogs and have opposable thumbs, are probably even worse.

Do not co-sleep on the couch, sofa, loveseat, or recliner.

Couches are plush and cushy, and they have cushions that infant heads slip between all too easily. They’re elevated off the ground and relatively narrow, meaning the baby can easily fall off and crack something. I’ll make an allowance for rickety wooden rocking chairs, but avoid doing so in a room full of cats.

Be careful with very small, very young infants.

By virtue of their diminutive size, very small infants are more susceptible to being smothered, crushed, or otherwise roughly manhandled. Plus, if this is your first kid, or your first attempt at co-sleeping, you’re already going to be nervous about what to do and how to do it and likely sleep-deprived. Consider room-sharing for the first few weeks to months, where the baby sleeps in an adjoining cot or mattress. You can still reach out and touch those cute puffy cheeks, but you won’t worry about making any catastrophic mistakes.

Don’t co-sleep if you’re a heavy sleeper, are excessively sleep deprived, are obese (disregard if you’re a bodybuilder with obese BMI; just cool it on the pec popping) and/or have sleep apnea.

These conditions will all reduce one’s ability to stay apprised of what’s going on in the bed. You need to be sensitive to your child if you’re going to share the bed safely. They may also make any mistakes made all the more damaging. If you’re severely sleep deprived – which will happen fairly often – consider keeping an adjoining cot/bed/crib in the room next to your bed so that you can still room share when necessary.

Don’t use thick bedding.

Huge frothy comforters full of imitation goose down are unnecessary for most people and downright dangerous (suffocation, smothering, overheating risk) for young babies. Even normal pillows and blankets can be excessive for infants; consider that most crib babies are bedded down with minimal bedding, a sheet or light blanket at most. That’s kinda what the adult co-sleeping bed should look like, too.

Don’t use overly soft mattresses.

Don’t use anything that you or the baby can “sink” into, like beanbag mattresses or those really soft beds that some people seem to like. Water beds are out, obviously, and not just because it’s no longer the 1980s.

Don’t co-sleep if not everyone is onboard. 

Co-sleeping is a family event. Both mom and dad need to be up for it for it to work. If there’s major anxiety about the method, I have to think it’s going to manifest as poor sleep (or worse).

Co-Sleeping DOs

Keep the bed low, preferably on the floor.

Make sure the bed is as low as you can manage it. This will make any falls less catastrophic, and as a bonus, it will force you to do more “floor living.” Those with carpeting can get away with higher beds, while those with hardwood flooring are advised to go a bit lower.

Use a firm mattress.

There should be minimal “give” to the sleeping surface. This will reduce the chance of suffocation.

Use a tight-fitting sheet.

Make sure the sheet fits well, without bunching up. Bunched up sheets can be a choking or suffocation hazard.

Breast feed.

Studies show that breast feeding makes for safe co-sleeping, while bottle feeding is associated with SIDS. According to James McKenna, the “breast feeding-bedsharing landscape is highly differentiated from the bottle feeding-bedsharing landscape.” (PDF) In his clinical experience, “breast feeding mothers typically keep their babies away from pillows, position their infants on their backs, placing them below their shoulders, while raising their arms above them,” and they “lay on their sides… in ways that can prevent accidental overlays.”

Put the kid next to mom, not wedged in between mom and dad.

By virtue of not having given birth, the dad is going to be less “connected” to the baby and possibly less aware during the night. Plus, a big advantage of co-sleeping is the ease of breast feeding, and you don’t want your baby getting confused in the middle of the night, reaching for the wrong breast, and ending up with a mouthful of hairy man nipple (although that would definitely establish a connection between father and child).

Place your baby on its back to sleep.

Sleeping in the supine position (on its back) is the safest way for a baby to sleep and reduces the risk of SIDS.

Eliminate any crevasses that the baby could fall into.

If the bed is up against a wall or headboard, make sure it is flush against the surface – no cracks or openings. Some people even pull their bed away from the wall to eliminate the possibility of getting stuck between the bed and the wall. If you can’t eliminate the crevasses, consider pulling the bed away from the wall. Products like these are also helpful for preventing falls or crevasse wedging.

Get a bigger bed.

When it comes to co-sleeping, bigger is usually better, particularly when you start introducing multiple co-sleepers.

Pay close attention to the list of don’ts up above.

Don’t do the don’ts.

I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of James McKenna’s book on the subject, Sleeping With Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping. It’s under $10, it’s a quick read, and it’s written by the premier expert.

And whatever happens, don’t feel like you have to co-sleep. Try room sharing, perhaps, which offers most of the same benefits as bed sharing. Convert cribs into side-cars that sit alongside the adult bed, thereby making it bigger. Just do what works for you and your family.

Now let’s hear from you guys. Co-sleepers: how did you do it? What did you learn? What didn’t you do? How did you determine co-sleeping was right for you? Everyone else: what made you choose the methods you chose? Let’s get a good discussion going. Let’s get our own village established.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I didn’t co-sleep with my first 2 sons (they are adults now) because I listened to the doctor abaout how “bad” it was. I now have a 2 yr old who has a seizure disorder and he has always been with me, first in the same room and now in my bed. I feel better knowing he is close in case he seizes during the night

    Tess wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  2. We co-slept for 18 months and at 3 years my son decides which bed to sleep in at night. Once a week (or less!) he picks our bed, the rest it’s his bed. Naps were done in his crib, unless I wanted a nap too! It was easy to transition him to his room, since his naps had mostly been there. I still love our co-sleep nights and love lying down with him as he falls asleep. I picture him in 3rd grade not wanting hugs and kisses in public, and treasure our snuggling time now.

    Carrie wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  3. My first child slept with me sporratically. She just fell asleep best on her own. Probably because she was in NICU for the first week. Idk. My second almost always slept in a crib in the room next to me. And my last one coslept for about six months, when he liked the crib better. The first two slept in a bassinet in my room until they became too big to fit in it. They all used a crib in their own room for naps and that may have made the transition easier for them. They all still come in to sleep with me from whenever my husband travels-which is often. Btw they are now 15, 10, and 8. All are independent, smart, well adjusted kids.

    Debbie wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  4. Hi!
    Interesting to see this on my email listing from MDA!
    We are currently co-sleeping with our fourth child (going on our 10th year of co-sleeping with baby or toddler!). All these are great rec’s. I would also say that using that body pillow we all got when pregnant or forgoing a pillow altogether when they are teeny tiny works great for us too. We sleep on a queen sized bed that is about four inches off the floor. I keep a pillow on the floor ‘just in case’ that actually is used when my current toddler wants to get up before her mother is ready to roll out of bed.
    Be smart and enjoy it! They grow up quickly!

    brooke wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  5. Twin girls, queen-sized mattress on hardwood floor, cheap and VERY effective.

    Brian wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  6. We did co-sleeping with all 3 children, ending up at one point with five in the futon. It was VERY good as a family bonding experience. We all felt quite snuggly with each other. I later found that 2 of my 3 kids had high-functioning autism, which explained a lot. Without co-sleeping I think they would have been much less socially adept and much colder as human beings. They weren’t ready to leave the family bed until age 6, which seemed late at the time but knowing about their autism now seems about right. I’m glad we welcomed them until they were ready to leave. Really, really glad.

    Julia wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  7. Good lord, you need to read a book about co-sleeping? We called it the family bed in 1990 when our daughter was born. We had a platform bed with a futon, she slept between us on a baby blanket, with another over her, no pillow. We nursed whenever she needed to and I always woke up if she needed something. When we moved when she was 4, she moved to her own futon bed in our room and then when she was 7 she moved into her own room. She thrived and is an intelligent, independent young woman.

    Margaret wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  8. I love bed-sharing with my children. Co-sleeping with my first was the only thing that calmed my son. We all slept better and had a wonderful breastfeeding relationship. When I went back to work, having that connection in the night really helped him. My first son who is 3 now still comes into bed with us in the night when he wakes up. We have an open door for him anytime he wants and he can choose when he is ready to sleep in his own room all night (he starts the night off in his own room no problem).
    We now have a 6 month old who has been room sharing with us only because my 3 year old still comes to bed in the middle of the night. I agree it’s too dangerous to let them sleep together at this point because he rolls all over the place. I would love for my 6 month old to bed share with us but I’m not sure how to do it safely or what age would be more safe. I do lay down to nurse in the night with him but my husband will move him after an hour or so to his cradle which is next to the bed.
    If anyone has any experiences with siblings co-sleeping in the family bed that would be appreciated.

    Erin wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  9. I love this. I’m 11 weeks pregnant with my first and we are planning to use the Arm’s Reach co-sleeper bassinet. I don’t sleep well when I have someone else in the bed with me (I “lovingly tolerate” my husband in bed with me, but I don’t rest as well as when I’m sleeping in it alone!), and I’m a mega-sprawler and love being entombed in lots of covers, so our bed isn’t a good environment for an infant. I love the concept of the co-sleeper so I can soothe and nurse my baby in the middle of the night without getting out of bed or worrying about suffocating my child or losing rest because I’m overly conscious (read: tension) of someone else in bed with me.

    Michelle wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  10. We tried co-sleeping and room sharing with our son, and it didn’t work for us. I’m such a light sleeper that I would instantly wake up at the slightest little sniff or wimper. I was not getting any sleep until he went into his own crib in his room across the hall where I could hear him if he needed me, but not so close that I was constantly waking up all night long. A well-rested mama is crucial to a happy baby!

    Alice wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  11. We co-slept with all three of our boys and are so glad we did. It was a wonderful experience for all of us.

    Barb wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  12. i have to say I grow more and more impressed by MDA each time I pop in for a visit! It’s not JUST a ‘diet” site but encompasses a whole way of looking at how we approach living, activity, work, rest and even parenting through an evolutionary lens.
    I co-slept with all four of my now adult children ( don’t worry , although plenty of fears are thrown at you they will do so into their university years, they do just move on when THEY are ready!)and breastfeed them into toddlerhood. They are very even tempered, well adjusted, great to be around people! I am glad I listened to my own instincts and tuned out conventional parenting wisdom at the time. As a a nurse who co-ordinates prenatal nutrition programs now I really try to de-stigmatize extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping. We are after all mammals, everything in our biology and hormonal response is hard wired for keeping baby close. The saber-toothed tiger may not be lurking in the dark any longer but our biology hasn’t really caught up to that yet!

    cargillwitch wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  13. My husband and I slept with all 3 of our children. We never bought a crib. So easy to breastfeed them. We put a King and Double bed together when all three of them were with us. On their own they just decided to sleep in their own rooms. I slept lightly and my husband learned to. I am very happy we did it but acknowledge it’s not for everyone. They are now 19,17 and 14 and have never had sleeping issues, fears or bedwetting. Who knows if co-sleeping attributed to that. My advice to new moms is to do what makes you feel good. There is so much guilt going around and it doesn’t help anyone.

    Cristi wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  14. Our daughter was a preemie, and came home the day after her due date at 77 days of age (yes, 77 days hospitalized, it was very stressful, but she’s FABULOUS now)

    We did a lot of co sleeping the first year. During the day, she napped with me in a recliner, or while I wore her. At night, she usually slept on Daddy’s chest, although we would move her to her bassinet some nights. Moving her to her bassinet actually gave me the most scares – I would feel around for her in bed, when I was half asleep, and panic when I couldn’t find her!

    She woke up nightly, at 3am, hungry. I had to use a shield to nurse, so we’d go to her bedroom, sit in the glider together, and then I’d doze with her til 5am ish.

    Cosleeping ended for us when Daddy had to leave the house and move to the other end of the province for his Army position. My mom stayed with us, and generally did the 3am feed at that point (by then, we were feeding only formula, an allergic reaction to poison ivy killed my supply), and I *really* needed to have good sleep. So I started with getting her used to her crib for naps, and eventually, did CIO with her after my mom moved back home.

    Every family needs to figure out what works safely for them, and just roll with it. I hope that we won’t be in the same set of circumstances with future kids, and we’ll probably handle sleep differently then!

    Amy wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  15. I tried both co-sleeping and having my baby sleep in a bassinet in the same room and neither worked. In both cases the baby got plenty of sleep and me none. I was so supersensitive to any movement by the baby, I barely slept. Also, my second newborn made a barking noise when he slept and there was no way I could get any sleep with that next to me. In the end, both my babies slept in basinettes either one closed door or two closed doors away from me, and I was still awake in a flash when they made the slightest murmur. In fact with my younger son, I used to wake into silence, and think: “he’s about to cry” and sure enough, he did.

    Kathy wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  16. I’d be really interested to see how people think co-sleeping affected their relationship with their partner. Obviously the sleeping situation isn’t just about the baby – after all there are two other people in the bed!

    Evelyn wrote on January 23rd, 2013
    • Near as I can tell, having a baby in the house had a much greater impact on my relationship with my husband, than a baby in our bed did. Babies sleep through just about anything, once they are asleep. Neither of us was weirded out by having sex with a sleeping baby in the bed, so that was a non-issue. And we had a crib that was used when she slept during the day, so we could have moved her to the crib during sex if we wanted too. Besides, there are other rooms in the house. My husband is a very warm person, and snuggling up to him at night resulted in me being too hot and both of us being sweaty, so we didn’t snuggle together in our sleep before the baby. Heck, we have separate sheets and blankets.

      b2curious wrote on January 24th, 2013
    • It is all about the baby in my opinion. When you have a child you are sacrificing some things: time, money, food, material possessions, and yes part of the bed if you co-sleep. I have always thought of our family as 1 unit. We co-slept with our first two, and now with our newest addition. It’s been a great experience for everyone.

      Glen wrote on January 24th, 2013
  17. I have five grown kids. The oldest didn’t like being closed in, and slept mostly in a cradle next to our bed…. but I’d just pick her up and took her to bed to breast feed her and then (if I woke up) put her back into the cradle.
    But the more kids I had, the harder it was to get enough sleep….. and I’d usually end up going to sleep while nursing. Several hours later I’d wake up, turn around and switched the baby to the other side, and went back to sleep. It worked great.
    Somehow baby noises, or the slightest whimper will wake me…. even now, if grandchildren are visiting, a baby’s cry in the night will wake me up instantly… so, there was never any danger of me rolling onto a baby.

    Ursula wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  18. I’ve performed CPR, twice in my career, on babies who have died from co-sleeping. In both cases, the father accidentally suffocated the child. For very young children and infants, I don’t think it is worth the risk.

    Lancaster wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  19. I don’t know if it was already mentioned, but those that bed share with an infant, should only do so if they are actually breastfeeding. A mother who is breastfeeding matches her sleep cycle with her child. Even if a mother is pumping and giving a bottle, it’s unsafe to sleep with an infant if it’s only fed from a bottle. Toddlers are fine, but not little babies.

    Angie wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  20. My question is : if you choose to co sleep
    How do you have mommy and daddy time / interaction . Especially if you work outside the home and are dog tired .

    Christa Whitaket wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  21. I originally got a co-sleeper crib hoping to have the best of both worlds. It didn’t work out. When Matt would wake, I’d be so groggy that on numerous occasions I hit his head lifting him out.

    We were also having an obnoxious time getting comfortable breast feeding. If I was comfortable, he wasn’t and vice versa.

    What finally ended up working was having me and Matt on the futon together while dad was sleeping the the main bedroom. Nap nursing ended up being the best solution. I roll over and give him boob.

    Sarah Jane Smith wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  22. I feed homemade formula and co sleep with my adopted daughter. She is thriving! I know exactly where she is, we have a queen bed and three of us sleep blissfully together every night. My 16yo slept with us until she was almost five, 12yo for about nine months, 10yo for four years. This one is welcome as long as she wants!
    Just enjoy your babies people!

    Sally wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  23. I have slept with my son every single night since he was born. He is now 16.5 months and I cannot imagine him not being in bed with us. We have an Arm’s Reach Co Sleeper, but have rarely used it. When he was very small I kept all the blankets at my waist and below and off him completely. I would wear a cardigan at night to keep my arms warm and allow easy access to breast feeding. I also think you have to find what works for you…my son and I are very comfortable with our arraignment. I have no intentions of putting him in his won bed until he chooses.

    badjes wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  24. We co-slept with both of our babies and it made the sleepless nights easier. I’m a midwife and lactation consultant and know personally and professionally the benefits of co-sleeping. Thank you for writing about this- I love finding positive references to breastfeeding in the most unlikely places!

    Kristina wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  25. In regards to supine sleeping position, I would like to say if parents are not sure whether infant burp or not, there would be a chance of aspiration pneumonia due to spit-up or reflux. Babies sleeping on their back are more prone to aspiration pneumonia. Therefore, we always kept them on their right side for sometime after feed.

    ThyFere wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  26. There was nothing more beautiful then co-sleeping with your children, My husband & I did it with our first and found it so rewarding, comforting, easy that both of us were able to bond with our children from day dot.

    I personally found it easy to breast feed and could do it with ease from our bed without having to get up and change rooms. So when our next baby arrived it was a natural that he was in the bed with us from day dot, the only thing we did differently was that we placed him in a toddler bed next to ours which gave us more room. Now both children are in the their own rooms and beds with no problems and sleeping soundly.

    The closeness we all share is just pure bliss and have no qualms that this is what we all should be doing with our newborns.

    Tracy Hopkins wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  27. My parents coslept with me, so it all seems normal to me! They broke the “rules”, though. They had me in the middle, and (although I don’t rmember, of course) I did experience the “hairy man boob” once, haha! I was a very clingy child, but I might have been that way anyways, who knows!

    Katie wrote on January 23rd, 2013
  28. Well done, Mark! Give the babies their primal sleep bonding benefits!!! Yes, this is crucial for so many benefits listed; inner security for life & that sense of being connected starting when we need it most. For 2 years I wrote articles & edited a magazine on birth, breastfeeding, baby development, bonding & attachment parenting. I loved learning how all research pointed to our first and true nature being all about loving, touching, breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, heart-to-heart and face-to face, breath-to-breath contact. Excellent to raise awareness on co-sleeping being primal, baby! Blessings, Claire

    Claire Kellerman wrote on January 24th, 2013
  29. I must say, after years of agreeing with most things that you post, I heavily disagree with this post.

    I am a pediatric emergency medicine doctor. I have, unfortunately had to pronounce many a child dead after being in the same bed as their parents.

    Your comment about overlaying “pretty much only happens when the parent is too messed up to wake up” is absolutely, completely, 100% wrong. I would say that most deaths that I’ve had to take care of were completely sober, non-obese, well meaning parents.

    Yes, there are thousands of people who have coslept without issue. All it takes is one death however to make it not worthwhile, in my opinion, to recommend.

    I STRONGLY suggest that you retract this post. This really is a cause of death that can easily be avoided. Please don’t advocate for this on your website as it potentially could lead to more infants dying. From someone who is on the front lines and has had to tell many a parent that I was sorry I couldn’t save their baby, there is nothing worse than seeing the grief and guilt in a parents eyes that rolled over onto their child and caused their death.

    mm wrote on January 24th, 2013
    • I have a question… how many children do you see that have been injured in car crashes? Do you also go on forums about cars and post about their horrors? What about alcohol? Lots of children are injured by drunk parents, drunk drivers? Do you post like this on Bacardi’s website? How many children die from co-sleeping each year vs car crashes vs alcohol related abuse, vs abuse in general, vs accidents of other kinds (such as the playground)? I’m willing to bet it’s not a heck of a lot but I don’t know, I’m genuinely curious. I also believer that there are benefits to sleeping with your child, like increased empathy, that could be huge, especially for boys who will spend the rest of their lives being told to suck it up and tough it by every other male they meet. A little tenderness can go a long way, how long? We don’t really know, but I’m curious about that too.

      -Tim

      Tim wrote on January 24th, 2013
    • Just devil’s advocate, what do you tell people that had children die in cribs? I personally know a couple of parents that pulled a cold child out of a crib. If you research this you’ll find research that supports co-sleeping, and also research that condemns it. Same with cribs. The American Academy of Pediatrics (status quo) advises to not co-sleep. For that matter, the same applies with Paleo/Primal lifestyles.
      I’ve yet to see pamphlets on how eating large amounts of meat and fat is good for you and fasting recommendations at my doctor’s office. I think most of contributing to this site are people trying to the best for ourselves and our families. Anything that happens accidental in the way of people trying to do the right thing (within reason)is unfornunate, but it happens.

      Glen wrote on January 24th, 2013
    • You did not indicate how many of those cases, where a child died after being in the same bed were due to overlays. Or did you just assume that, since they were sleeping with their parents, that it was an overlay? In the cases where asphyxiation was the cause, how many were due to a parent accidentally rolling on the child? Or did the parents violate one of the don’ts listed in this article? Without that information, your post doesn’t carry much weight. We are aware that sometimes children and babies die after sleeping in the same bed as their parents. We are also aware that sometimes children and babies die when sleeping in their own beds and cribs.

      b2curious wrote on January 24th, 2013
  30. Both of our daughters insisted on sleeping with us when they were younger. Now 22 and 10 years old, each kept sleeping in our bed until they were about 7-8 at which time they naturally decided they wanted their own bed. I used to worry that having them sleep with us was somehow ‘wrong’, although i culdn’t really think why – just dogma I suppose. Reading that co-sleeping is a natural phenomenon, and is actually beneficial for everyone (children and parents), makes a lot of sense and lets me feel better about not insisting they take to their own bed earlier. Thankfully, they like their own beds now, as it would be a bit of a squeeze otherwise.

    steve wrote on January 24th, 2013
  31. I’m gong to have to call BS on don’t co sllep if your obease or have sleep Alena. I am technically obese not supersoze or anything like that and I have sleep Alena and we safely cosleep and have been doing so for almost 5 years. I think that your comment is unfounded der and rude.

    alicia wrote on January 24th, 2013
  32. This article goes completely against the American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations on Infant Safe Sleep. There is NO way to safely co-sleep with your infant. Why risk it? Put the baby in a safe crib and room share!

    Mark wrote on January 24th, 2013
    • And much of the dietary advice on this site goes against the American Heart Association recommendations. They seem to think we should eat a variety of grain products and eat foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol. So what’s your point?

      Given that countries where bed sharing is common, SIDS rates are extremely low, and that in Japan, a decrease in SIDS and overall infant mortality rates parallel an increase in bed sharing, I’m willing to believe that there is a safe way to bed share with an infant. That, among impoverished communities, where there are a bunch of other risk factors – many of the don’ts listed in this post, there is a positive correlation between bed sharing and infant deaths from SIDS or accidental asphyxiation. This, however, is not enough to convince me that bed sharing, in and of itself, is inherently dangerous, any more than I believe that eating red meat, in and of itself, is inherently dangerous.

      b2curious wrote on January 24th, 2013
  33. We co-slept with both of our boys after I took a masters level anthropology class with a professor who was adamantly for it (as well as breast feeding). If I remember correctly her position was that (this is the late 1990s) co-sleeping deaths were caused by alcohol, or obesity and she felt we westerners were missing out on an empathy/bonding generating experience that was largely safe. I figured we’d give it a shot in part because I loved that professor and in part because I am a nut who’s always up for something odd/new/different.

    That said, I’m pretty sensitive person and my wife is a very light sleeper, and we had an enormous king size bed where the baby essentially had its own zip code to frolic around in. Plus neither of us smoke or drink to excess, though we were obese by the time the second child came around and that didn’t go away until we went primal/paleo two years ago. Today the boys are 12 and almost 10 and both are well adjusted young men with straight A’s, one is passionate about math and the other loves stories/acting.

    -Tim

    Tim wrote on January 24th, 2013
  34. We threw out our box spring and put our queen mattress on the floor. Next to it we put a twin size mattress where my now 4y old daughter sleeps. This works best for us. Of course it took me 18m from the day she was born to realize this was the only way that would make waking up 5 times a night stop. I am from Southern Europe where cosleeping is the norm. Had I known before I wouldn’t have bought a crib at all. When we switched from a crib to co sleeping on the floor we could finally get a good nights sleep. She kept breast feeding and nobody had to get up.

    Eni wrote on January 24th, 2013
  35. I co-slept with my son until he was 8 months old. It was a wonderful experience, and made it easier on me since my son was up every 2-4 hours to nurse. My son is now 4 and he is a definite independent little man, but still wants his hugs:)

    katschmitty wrote on January 24th, 2013
  36. I reallywas enjoyed this article, thank you. I shared a room with my daughter and son when they were born and nursed them both. If they slept in the bed with me it was in my arms and I was only half asleep. It worked for my daughter. My son on the other hand sleeps better by himself. We transitioned him to his own room at 10 months and we all get a good night’s rest now. He only wakes up to nurse, around the same time every night, then it’s back to sleep.

    Nicole wrote on January 24th, 2013
  37. In the early 80s I slept with my baby on a futon on the floor, just as you recommend here. It was perfectly safe, and I got more sleep nursing him in bed rather than getting up three times at night to feed him. He grew up to be a very secure and sociable and successful man.

    shannon wrote on January 24th, 2013
  38. The bed on the floor is important because babies do roll out of bed. If they roll onto the floor two inches below, no problem.
    I also noticed that even as a small infant, my son could scoot himself up the bed if he wanted to, for example if his head got under the blanket. This made me less worried about suffocation. He rarely slept between me and his dad; usually he slept between me and the edge of the futon (again, only a few inches from the floor).
    The one downside was that when we traveled and occasionally slept on a “real bed,” he often rolled out of it! But even kids who sleep in cribs do this.

    shannon wrote on January 24th, 2013
  39. I can see how you could roll over onto a baby and smother him if you were in a very soft (normal) bed, but if you are on a hard bed on the floor, this would seem very unlikely.

    Regular beds with springs are too soft for me anyway.

    shannon wrote on January 24th, 2013
  40. Good message. I always had my kids sleep with me & only breast fed. No problems whatsoever. Did it with 4 kids. They sort of didn`t want to get out of my bed though so getting them into theirs took longer than usual but I slept great all those years with babies. Glad to see this information. They preach against it now. Renee

    Renee wrote on January 24th, 2013

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