Co-Sleeping: Our Expert On Where Is The Best Place For Little Ones To Sleep
This is not the first time I've written about where the “best” place for little ones to sleep might be. To be honest, there really is NO best place, as long as little ones are SAFE! That’s your priority when it comes to location – be it cot, their bed or indeed, your bed.
For starters, images like this from 2011 (City of Milwaukee Health Department) do nothing but frighten the life out of parents and parents-to-be. It’s scaremongering at its finest.
When it comes to where babies should sleep, the debate rages on. Some parents will decide that in order to get any sleep at all, bed sharing is the only way forward. Others will insist that they will never do it. Those against it, will dismiss it mainly on the grounds of fear of SIDS (once beds are shared safely, you should be confident that you’ll not run into any difficulties) while others fight it as they don’t want to get their little ones into bed habits.
Sometimes it’s all about getting as much sleep as possible for you all. As long as you are being safe about it
It is important to remind people though, that co-sleeping and bed sharing are two separate things.
Co-sleeping involves a separate cot beside your bed that you place the baby back into once feeding is finished.
Bed-sharing means that the baby physically stays in your bed for the night and makes very little use (if any) of their cot. It is a personal choice, but as long as you are doing either of them safely, you shouldn’t run into any difficulties, and everything should be fine.
Bearing this in mind, and in the context of your newborn, there are a number of options. From a quality sleep point of view, they are all valid, as long as they are are done safely.
The first thing to do is make an informed decision as to what your preference might be.
I believe bed sharing might appeal more to breastfeeding mums than to those who have decided to bottle feed.
I would also encourage mums of twins or multiples to consider buying a co-sleeper to have beside their bed. One baby will lie beside you and one in the ‘sleeper’. I think this is likely to be the easiest way of simply swapping their places over while you feed them during the night. Remember once again, to follow safe sleeping guidelines. The advice, which should be considered is, as follows :
*Remove all duvets and pillows.
*Make sure no adult has been drinking, smoking or taking drugs should they be sharing a bed with an infant. It is also advised not to sleep in bed with an infant if you smoked during pregnancy.
*Be aware of your own level of tiredness – get some rest during the day where possible to avoid overtiredness yourselves.
*Tie up long hair so it doesn’t potentially get wrapped around babies’ neck or limbs.
*It is not a good idea for siblings and older children to share beds with babies (particularly under one year old).
And if you still feel bed-sharing is not for you, then perhaps co-sleeping is a good option for your family.
A 'co-sleeper' is a small cot that is open on one side. It is ideal for newborns and it can be attached to your bed, or pulled right up beside it, as you sleep. Your baby can be easily transferred during the night for feeds and you don’t run the risk of falling asleep while feeding and being fearful of rolling on baby. (This rarely, if ever happens by the way but if you are nervous about bed-sharing (whether intentional or unintentional), it is good practice to move baby back into their sleeper after a feed).
If you are using this type of bedding for overnight sleeping, then during the day, your newborn is likely to sleep happily in a pram, downstairs. Just make sure the mattress in the pram is a good one.
As your little one gets older, you may then decide to remain co-sleeping, keeping them close in your room - you may just need a bigger cot!
In any case, the choice is yours to make and it rarely matters what your personal choice is – as long as you know of and reduce any risks.
Niamh O’Reilly is a sleep coach. She's also a baby and childcare guru, a 'parent nanny' and the answer to many a weary parent's woes. A regular in the Irish media, Niamh's book, No Fuss Baby & Toddler Sleep, is now available to buy from all good book stores or online from Amazon.com.