Posted by Claudia Grazioso on January 30, 2012
When I was pregnant with our first child, co-sleeping was all the rage. No one asked if we were going to do it, everyone just assumed we would. So many friends and acquaintances shared their stories of bonding, beautiful sleep with their infant safely snuggled next to them. I was embarrassed to say I wasn’t planning on doing it. I didn’t know how to explain that I am kind of obsessive, and I couldn’t imagine anything less restful than staying up all night worrying about whether or not I was going to roll over onto my child. Which, tragically, as recent news stories have proven, is not as unlikely as we’d like to think.
Infant deaths from co-sleeping have been in the news a lot lately, and at first I was hugely relieved that we had not done it. Our children slept in bassinets right next to me, and I still sprang out of sleep in between feedings to make sure they were breathing. I would have been a wreck with a baby in our bed. But I also started thinking about all of my friends who had done co-sleeping, and whose children were absolutely fine. Is the “co-sleeping controversy” just a media creation?
Maybe and maybe not. Some credible agencies are suggesting that parents refrain from co-sleeping. Though advocates feel that co-sleeping promotes better breast-feeding habits, helps parents and children synchronize their sleeping patterns, and — very importantly these days — gives working moms special time to connect with their infants, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has advised against it. They claim that the possibility of suffocation is a true risk. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics has also advised against it. The AAP instead recommends room sharing, as opposed to bed sharing.
It’s a hard call to make. Certainly bonding time with parents is key to a baby’s development. And let’s face it — infants all over the world sleep with their parents with no problems at all. Some experts claim that that is because of differences in bedding, mattresses and covers. In general, soft, plush surfaces are not safe for sleeping babies.
Here are some other safety guidelines to consider if you want to co-sleep: Always make sure your baby is asleep on his or her back, and that there are no covers over its head. Get rid of the super deluxe plush comforters and huge pillows. If you want to co-sleep, some experts even recommend sleep sacs instead of blankets. Make sure there is no way your baby can get trapped in your headboard, or between the bed and the wall. Don’t let other siblings sleep in bed with your infant. Here’s a crazy one: If you have long hair, tie it back so your child can’t get tangled in it. (Yes, apparently that has happened.) And here’s an obvious one: No drinking, no sleep aids, no nothing that would knock you out.
If you are unsure about co-sleeping, consider trying a bassinet in your room, or a co-sleeping bassinet that can attach to your bed, but still give your infant a separate, safe place to sleep. And let’s be honest, if you have a newborn, you’re probably not going to be getting much sleep anyway!