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Mar
01

Guidelines: Shared Sleep and Safe Sleeping

Author // Pathways Magazine

It is important to be responsive to a baby’s nighttime needs. Attachment Parenting International (API) advocates keeping baby in close proximity in a safe sleeping environment. In many cultures, it is considered normal and expected for parents to sleep with their children. Recent research has shown that some of the benefits include better quality of sleep for mothers and reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) for babies. Safe bedsharing includes a safe, firm mattress and parents who are not using drugs or alcohol and who do not smoke near baby. If a parent is not comfortable with the idea of bed-sharing, remember the key is close proximity and responsiveness to the infant’s nighttime needs.


Safe bed-sharing requires:

  • Not smoking around baby
  • Not using alcohol or drugs
  • A firm mattress free of fluffy bedding and stuffed animals
  • Using safety measures such as bed extenders or safe placement of the family bed
  • Avoiding gaps of any kind, for instance between mattress and bed-frame or siderails that may easily slide out from the mattress.
  • Never leaving a baby unattended in an adult bed
  • Never placing a baby to sleep on a couch or chair


Advantages to baby:

  • Studies indicate that cultures that cosleep have reduced incidence of SIDS
  • There are more periods of light sleep beneficial to creating stable heart rates and breathing patterns
  • Breastfeeding is better established through frequent nursings, which are facilitated by co-sleeping
  • Baby feels warm and secure, therefore cries less


Advantages to parents:

  • More sleep
  • Improves length and quantity of breastfeeding
  • Mother worries less about her infant
  • Parents develop a closer bond to baby

Available online at: www.attachmentparenting.org/idealsleep.shtml


Pathways Issue 9 CoverThis article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #09.

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