Parenting very much comes down to personal choice along with some well-advised guidelines we can follow when it comes to health and safety. But one of the biggest questions many of us have is whether or not we can or should bed-share with our baby.
The answer comes down to preference and following that guidance.
Should I Bed-Share?
That doesn't necessarily answer the question for us when many of us are excited about the idea of bed-sharing as we bond with our new-born, practise skin-to-skin, and establish breastfeeding. We are also heavily sleep-deprived as it is, and there is a certain convenience with having the baby right beside us. However, as with everything in life, bed-sharing comes with risks meaning we must familiarise ourselves with its safety over co-sleeping.
What Is The Best Practice?
The general advice is for a baby to sleep in a separate cot with a mattress that is clean, firm, and flat, in your room for the first six months. There is a subtle difference between bed-sharing and co-sleeping. Co-sleeping is essentially sleeping in the same vicinity as your baby so you can hear, smell, and see them. Bed-sharing is literally that, sharing the same bed with your baby and is not recommended if your baby:
- Is less than three months old
- Was premature, born before 37 weeks
- Had a low birth weight of less than 2.5kg (5.5.lbs)
Bed-sharing comes with risks if parents are smokers, have taken alcohol or drugs (legal or illegal) or any medication which can make you drowsy and is not recommended in these instances. The alternative is to use a co-sleeper such as a bassinet which attaches to your bed creating a safe space for the baby to sleep while keeping them close to you.
Do's And Don'ts
Because of the risks of suffocation associated with bed-sharing, if you choose to do so, there are a few rules recommended in order to keep the baby safe:
- Don’t use sleep positioners which include nests, cocoons, and wedges as they don’t prevent cot death and may be a suffocation risk
- Don’t use pillows or cushions to raise your baby’s head while they sleep as again they may risk suffocation
- The same goes for soft toys, loose blankets, or anything fluffy in a baby’s sleeping area including duvets and teddies as they may suffocate a baby who does not yet have the ability to move objects from their face; they also attribute to the risk of over-heating
- Don’t let pets or other children into the bed
- Make sure your baby can’t fall out of the bed and get trapped between the mattress and the wall
To Bed-Share Or Not?
The choice essentially is yours. Be guided by the recommendations from the HSE.