I bet you've heard that sleeping with your baby is dangerous and that you shouldn't do it. We've all seen the "Back to Sleep" campaign, which says the only safe place for your baby to sleep is flat on their back, in a crib.
For many, this is actually true. HOWEVER, it can be safe to sleep next to your baby if you follow all of the rules. This is your guide to figuring out if you can safely sleep with your baby and how to do so. You might find it's best for your family and helps you get more sleep.
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Co-sleep is an umbrella term for many forms of sleeping with your baby. Things that fall under co-sleep are, but are not limited to:
Despite what many people believe, bedsharing can be safe under the right conditions. It is considered safe for non-smoking, breastfeeding mothers who are not obese to bedshare. How is bedsharing safe? Well, first let's go over a few myths involved in this subject.
Myth #1: Your baby will die of SIDS
First of all, SIDS and suffocation are two completely different demons. Secondly, your baby is actually significantly less at risk of SIDS if bedsharing, or any form of co-sleeping is practiced. Babies greatly benefit from hearing their mother’s rhythmic heartbeat and breathing throughout the night. Newborns are not unconscious breathers like we are. They need to think about it. Hearing you breath is a reminder, and also sets a pace for them.
Myth #2: You will roll over onto and crush your baby.
You will be surprised how aware of your child you will be! It is completely natural for a breastfeeding mother to create a protective curl around their infant while they sleep, keeping them close to their body. Any time baby stirs or makes a sound you will be in tune to them and wake. Many mothers find themselves actually waking just before their baby, only to then realize their baby was ready to nurse. Talk about hormonal chemistry!
There is an exception to this that must be noted; If you are under the influence of over the counter or prescription drugs which may make you drowsy, DO NOT SLEEP WITH BABY. If you are under the influence of illicit drugs, alcohol, or are sleep deprived, DO NOT SLEEP WITH YOUR BABY. It should also be noted that ONLY the exclusively breastfeeding mother should sleep with her baby- not the father or anyone else.
Myth #3: You will never sleep again!
On the contrary, you could find yourself sleeping better with your baby right next to you in bed. Both you and your little one can sleep peacefully knowing you are comfortably close. You'll also find night nursing to be a million times easier. Some women, including myself, don't even have to wake up to nurse throughout the night. I wear an easy access shirt and keep one breast exposed, allowing my baby to pop on and off as he pleases while I sleep. Research also supports mother and baby both sleep better while bedsharing.
Myth #4: You will never get the baby out of your bed.
Fostering a secure independence begins with a healthy dependence. Part of this includes sleeping with or near your baby. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends co-sleeping for the first year of life. Especially during the first few months, having your baby in your bed will only help both of you get more sleep. Newborns are also not designed to sleep alone. When they are a bit older, not nursing so frequently , and ready to sleep on their own, it will be much easier to do so when they are not nursing frequently through the night.
Myth #5: Bedsharing will destroy your sex life.
Have you seen the internet meme floating around that reads, “Co-sleepers do it in the kitchen!”? Well, it's true. Or in the bathroom, shower, on the couch, down the hall, etc. You get creative. (I personally would resent being in a relationship where sex strictly had to take place in the bedroom or on a bed. How boring, right?)
Now that we have gone over some myths, let's go over some do’s and don’ts of bedsharing.
The Do’s of Bedsharing:
The Don’ts of Bedsharing:
Mothers have been bedsharing for thousands of years, all over the world. It is an instinctive, primitive parenting technique. I hope someday the negative perception of bedsharing in the U.S. will change and it will be socially normal and accepted once again. The links provided are a few of my sources and more reading material if you're interested.
How do you sleep? Do you cosleep? Bedshare? Let me know below!
I'm Kelly! As far as credentials go I am a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), Certified Lactation Educator (CLE), HUG trained, breastfeeding counselor, a mother of 4 beautiful kids, and advocate for families. My personal experience with breastfeeding fueled my passion, and generated my mission. I founded Successful Breastfeeding because I saw a need for a better, more thorough, and individualized support for breastfeeding moms- especially working breastfeeding moms! I provide an approach to breastfeeding support that you won't find anywhere else! Breastfeeding is not one size fits all, and breastfeeding support should not be either!Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
Kelly Maher, CLC, CLE
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