The only thing more hotly debated than babies themselves is how we raise them. Even when it comes to sleeping habits, parents have different preferences. Should you co-sleep with your baby or put the baby in a bassinet or a crib or in his/her own bed to sleep? Confused? Know that each sleeping option has its own pros and cons and this decision depends on each parent, their parenting style, and living conditions.
A good reason to co-sleep is that the voice and the warmth of the mother soothe the kid and the mother feels safe having the kid in close proximity.1 2 On the other hand, it has its risks of accidents and health issues.
To keep your baby safe, a child-friendly bedding is highly recommended. Also, letting kids sleep in their own beds or in a different room gives you your much-needed privacy and sleep.3 Here are a few ways you can create a safe environment for your sleeping baby.
Safety Measures To Keep Babies Safe
1. Use Safety-Approved Bedding
Child-friendly, safety-approved bedding should be used whether you co-sleep with the baby or the baby sleeps on his/her own bed. Prefer fitted thick sheets in cotton for the mattress so they cannot be easily pulled off by the baby.4
Do not use pillows, bumpers or soft toys for comfort in the sleeping area owing to choking hazards. Also, kids who sleep under duvets or who lie flat on a bed covered with excessive bedding or soft bedding are prone to the risk of thermal stress.5
2. Know How To Co-Sleep
Co-sleeping is found to be beneficial as it provides the emotional support, comfort, sense of security, care, and warmth the baby requires. By sleeping close to the baby, you can always keep an eye on the baby and breastfeed when required. The physical presence of the parents reduces the stress levels and also the sense of fear in infants.6
Despite these benefits, know how things can go wrong in co-sleeping.
- Sleeping with your baby on a couch can be highly dangerous with a high risk of sudden death when the baby is caught between the sofa and the cushions.7
- The infant can have serious health consequences when one or the other parent smokes and co-sleeps.
- There is also a high risk of the baby choking if the parent sleeps after alcohol consumption or if they are extremely tired and bedding materials like pillows, bumpers, and duvets are used for support in sleep.8
3. Watch Out For The Hazards Of Sleeping Separately
Some parents find co-sleeping an unsafe option. The last thing a young mom or dad wants to worry about is tossing and turning at night due to fatigue and hurting their baby. If you opt for the baby to sleep in a separate room, the cribs with child-safe bedding and adequate protection against accidents or falls will be a safe sleeping arrangement to consider. There have been many instances of accidents when babies slept on beds not designed for child safety.9
- Ensure that no loose bedding, soft toys, pillows, blankets, quilts, and bumpers are kept in your baby’s sleeping area and are kept away from the baby’s face.
- Keep your baby’s room closer to your room so that you can be aware when the baby cries.
- Do not keep any electrical or electronic gadgets like toy spinners that can pose a risk to your baby’s safety.
- Place a baby monitor on a stable counter or a table nearby.
- Dress your baby in comfortable clothing so that the baby’s sleep is undisturbed.10
4. Check The Baby’s Sleeping Position
Do not put your baby to sleep in a prone position when the baby is asleep on the bed. Babies should be put to sleep supine, i.e., on their back, for safety reasons. In a prone position, babies tend to re-breathe the carbon dioxide they let out, which can have a toxic effect and can even cause death. Some babies stir in sleep and can move to prone or side positions later. They can be left in that position as they tend to come back to the supine position if they have started to roll over.11
Whether you co-sleep or have your baby sleep in a separate room or crib, you should always ensure that the baby sleeps safe and sound. With all these measures in place, your baby will have a good sleep every night, which will help in the baby’s growth and development.
|↑1||McKenna, James. “Sleeping with your baby.” New Beginnings (La Leche League International) 26, no. 1 (2009): 4-9.|
|↑2||McKenna, James J., and Lane E. Volpe. “Sleeping with baby: an internet‐based sampling of parental experiences, choices, perceptions, and interpretations in a western industrialized context.” Infant and Child Development 16, no. 4 (2007): 359-385.|
|↑3||Gunn, Alistair J., Tania R. Gunn, and Edwin A. Mitchell. “CLINICAL REVIEW ARTICLE: Is changing the sleep environment enough? Current recommendations for SIDS.” Sleep Medicine Reviews 4, no. 5 (2000): 453-469.|
|↑4||Gilbert-Barness, Enid, Linda Hegstrand, Sunita Chandra, John L. Emery, Lewis A. Barness, Ralph Franciosi, and Robert Huntington. “Hazards of mattresses, beds and bedding in deaths of infants.” The American journal of forensic medicine and pathology 12, no. 1 (1991): 27-32.|
|↑5||Flick, Louise, Deborah K. White, Caroline Vemulapalli, Barbara B. Stulac, and James S. Kemp. “Sleep position and the use of soft bedding during bed sharing among African American infants at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome.” The Journal of pediatrics 138, no. 3 (2001): 338-343.|
|↑6||Colarusso, Calvin A. “Challenging case: Family relationships and issues.” Pediatrics 107, no. 4 (2001): 873.|
|↑7||Byard, R. W., S. Beal, B. Blackbourne, J. M. Nadeau, and H. F. Krous. “Specific dangers associated with infants sleeping on sofas.” Journal of paediatrics and child health 37, no. 5 (2001): 476-478.|
|↑8||Blair, Peter S., Ed Mitchell, Peter J. Fleming, Iain J. Smith, Martin Ward Platt, Jeanine Young, Pam Nadin, P. J. Berry, and Jean Golding. “Babies sleeping with parents: case-control study of factors influencing the risk of the sudden infant death syndromeCommentary: Cot death—the story so far.” Bmj 319, no. 7223 (1999): 1457-1462.|
|↑9||Scheers, N. J., George W. Rutherford, and James S. Kemp. “Where should infants sleep? A comparison of risk for suffocation of infants sleeping in cribs, adult beds, and other sleeping locations.” Pediatrics 112, no. 4 (2003): 883-889.|
|↑10||Schlaud, Martin, Maren Dreier, Anette S. Debertin, Katja Jachau, Steffen Heide, Birkhild Giebe, Jan P. Sperhake, Christian F. Poets, and Werner J. Kleemann. “The German case–control scene investigation study on SIDS: epidemiological approach and main results.” International journal of legal medicine 124, no. 1 (2010): 19.|
|↑11||Mitchell, Edwin A., Bradley T. Thach, John MD Thompson, and Sheila Williams. “Changing infants’ sleep position increases risk of sudden infant death syndrome.” Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine 153, no. 11 (1999): 1136-1141.|