"I'm nursing so we have to co-sleep" is a sentence I hear with quite a lot of frequency. While it does make nursing easier to have baby laying next to you at night, bed sharing is not safe. And no ease is worth the risk.
Believe it or not, I'm not here to bash or judge bed sharing. Quite the opposite actually. I totally get how magical it is to have that smooshy little baby all snuggled up next to you, smelling their sweet newborn smell all night. It's addicting. But you guys, there is so much research that shows how dangerous sleeping in the same bed as your baby is.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), bed-sharing increases the risk of sleep-related infant deaths. The same study showed that a large percentage of infants who die of SIDS are found with their head covered by bedding. Additionally, the risk of suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment significantly increases when the infant is sleeping in the adult bed.
It's so easy to think this would never happen to you. You'd never roll over on your baby. You're a light sleeper! You're so aware of baby right next to you! Guess what. All new parents, every single one, is exhausted and sleep deprived. It can happen to any one of us.
The Safest Place for Baby to Sleep
There are many options for where baby can sleep, however, bed sharing is not one of them. Whether nursing or bottle feeding, the safest place for baby to sleep is in your room (making breastfeeding easier), on a firm surface that is a bassinet, crib, or sleep safety rated play yard next to parent's bed.
Having baby next to mom's side of the bed makes it easy for mom (or dad) to pick baby up during the night for a feeding, whether from the breast or bottle.
What if I fall asleep while nursing?
You most likely will! And the AAP acknowledges that parents frequently fall asleep while feeding an infant. Should this occur, it's important that you place baby back on their separate, safe sleep surface as soon as you awaken.
I had many, MANY instances where I fell asleep while nursing my son in bed at night. We didn't bed-share, but when I would feed him at night, it was impossible to stay awake. I clearly remember several instances where I woke up startled to find my tiny baby asleep next to me, and I had absolutely no idea how long either of us had been sleeping for, OR how I hadn't moved my arm and injured him. You better believe that the second I woke up, that sweet baby was put right back in his own sleep space. And you guys, we were extremely lucky.
The safest way to co-sleep is to room share. Put baby's bassinet right next to your bed so you can easily get baby in and out for night feeds, keep the lights low and stimulation to a minimum (no diaper changes unless dirty - not just wet) to help baby fall asleep right after the feeding is over.
Recommended Safe Sleep Spaces for Room-sharing
Keeps baby as close as you like while still safely in his own separate sleep area, reducing the risks associated with bed-sharing.
Keep it simple. Your portable crib doesn't need a bouncer, mobile, changing table or vibrating rocker. It just needs a bassinet portion for when baby is under 4 months old. We love our Babytrend portable crib because of the lower price point, and because it didn't come with a million accessories. We used this as a bassinet until transitioning my son to his crib, take it with us anytime we travel, and we currently have it as daycare!