New parents often find themselves losing sleep over late-night wake-up calls, whether to feed a hungry baby or lull one back to sleep. It follows that moms and dads may turn to co-sleeping with their baby to make nighttime feedings easier or to help a nursing mother and her baby get on the same sleep cycle.
Is co-sleeping with your baby safe? Evidence-based research and experts say no.
Co-sleeping puts babies at risk of suffocation and strangulation, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Although research is ongoing to determine if there’s a connection between co-sleeping and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), it has been shown that co-sleeping increases the likelihood of accidental death.
From January 1990 to December 1997, 121 infant deaths were attributed to a parent, caregiver or sibling rolling on top of, or against, a sleeping baby. Of those deaths, more than 75 percent were infants younger than three months old.
What should parents do if they want to avoid risk to their child but still get a good night’s rest? Consider having your baby sleep in the same room, just not in the same bed.
More tips for a safer sleeping environment:
- Place your baby to sleep on his or her back, in a crib or bassinet
- Avoid cribs that have gaps larger than two fingers wide
- Stick to the bare minimum: no pillows, thick quilts or draperies
When you’re comfortable to have your baby sleep in a separate room, consider buying a baby monitor and turning the volume on high, so that you can listen for crying or any unusual commotion.