Updated: Jun 18, 2019
You do not have to look very far these days to find a variety of groups that support an assortment of sleeping options when it comes to your baby or child. Whether it be co-sleeping, room sharing, bed sharing or independent room sleeping there is always an array of opinions and talk out there.
As a certified sleep consultant, my number one importance is sharing the safest and most healthy sleep recommendations at this time. It is important that you speak with your pediatrician or health care provider and coming to a decision that works best for your family. In the end, it is your final choice, but having all the factors will make for a much more educated and peace of mind for a long lasting decision.
Last fall the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with updated safe sleep practices. For more in depth information you can find the latest regulations for safe sleep HERE.
Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
Avoid baby's exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.
Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
Do not use home monitors or commercial devices, including wedges or positioners, marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development.
Never fall asleep on the couch, sofa, recliner or other surface where baby could easily fall out of your arms, wedged into a crease or easily rolled over on by parent or others.
Let's Break It All Down: Room Sharing vs. Co-Sleeping vs. Bed Sharing
The newest sleep guidelines lay out that room sharing should be considered for the first 6 months and ideally up to one year as it can reduce the risk of SIDS significantly. Sharing the same room, but baby having their own personal crib or bassinet with a fitted tight sheet and no other items found in the crib or bassinet. This way baby and parents feel safe and close, but giving everyone their own personal space.
Room Sharing: Sharing the same room, but baby having their own crib or bassinet. It may be an arm’s length away or on the other side of the room from parent’s bed.
Co-Sleeping: A term used by many, but misunderstood by the word co-sleeping. It is best described as sleeping in close proximity to your child. Some define co-sleeping as simply sharing the same room and others view it as sleeping in the same bed or sharing the same sleeping spaces.
Bed Sharing: Sharing the same bed with baby or child.
Sidecar Sleeping: Attaching baby or child’s own crib to the side of your bed. Three sides of the crib are left intact and the front side is removed and usually attached to the side of the bed the mother is sleeping on for easy access. You can also find commercial sidecar cribs to fit your needs if this is something you have considered and discussed with your health care provider.
Co Sleeping Factors To Be Considered:
Remember this is defined differently it does not always mean the baby or child is in the bed sleeping with parents.
Co-sleeping is not always a good fit for all families, asses your family’s needs and discuss with your doctor what may be the best fit for your situation.
A breastfeeding mother tends to feel less stress and easier to nurse on demand.
Parents feel they can relax and catch extra sleep.
Baby can catch more sleep and in the early stages wake to eat and back to sleep during the night.
Sleeping in the same room as baby can reduce SIDS by up to 50%.
Bedtime and overnight sleep can be less stressful and enjoyable for parents and baby or child.
Know Your Products:
Now days, in every magazine, fb group or online store you will find that miracle product that will cure your babies sleep and have them sleeping through the night. Many of these products are geared to be used as sleeping devices in parent’s bed, or placed in the crib for baby to catch extra zzz’s. Remember babies should always be laid on a flat surface with a tight and fitted sheet. One ‘miracle’ product that I see and hear about often from my clients and others is the dock-a-tot. Sadly, this device is misinforming many mothers and parents. This is not recommended to be used a permanent sleeping area. This product is intended to be used during supervised time when parents are fully aware and awake to watch their little one as they lay in the dock-a-tot. Research the product and discuss it with your health care professional before moving forward with any new products for your baby or child.
As you can see there are so many ways to understand and breakdown co-sleeping and what the definition means to each individual family. Evaluating your family dynamics, researching and discussing with your health care provider and pediatrician can go a long way. Always remember every family situation will be different and not every family will feel that each of these options is ideal for their own family. In the end, a gentle reminder to layout the safest and healthiest sleep recommendations before deciding which may be the best for your baby or child.
If you have more questions or still wondering what may be the best fit for your family, please reach out to me and let’s discuss your options. I work with families on every spectrum and I work to find a plan that will meet the needs of your child and family. I love to hear from you, email me firstname.lastname@example.org also, check out other blogs that address all topics related to families and children at www.serenitysleepers.com