Co-sleeping is often a necessity for most parents especially those parents who have special needs children. I have found that by having my children close I am better able to meet their needs while maximizing my rest time making me a better mother during the day and at night. There are many ways to co-sleep in my opinion co-sleeping is keeping your baby at an arms reach from you at night. Some ways you can co-sleep is to have baby in bed with you, have baby in a crib or side car next to the bed, have another normal sized bed next to your bed. For those of us with special needs children sleeping near our children can mean the difference between life and death for them.
The following are some ways to safely co-sleep
- Take precautions to prevent baby from rolling out of bed, even though it is unlikely when baby is sleeping next to mother. Like heat-seeking missiles, babies automatically gravitate toward a warm body. Yet, to be safe, place baby between mother and a guardrail or push the mattress flush against the wall and position baby between mother and the wall. Guardrails enclosed with plastic mesh are safer than those with slats, which can entrap baby’s limbs or head. Be sure the guardrail is flush against the mattress so there is no crevice that baby could sink into.
- Place baby adjacent to mother, rather than between mother and father. Mothers we have interviewed on the subject of sharing sleep feel they are so physically and mentally aware of their baby’s presence even while sleeping, that it’s extremely unlikely they would roll over onto their baby. Some fathers, on the other hand, may not enjoy the same sensitivity of baby’s presence while asleep; so it is possible they might roll over on or throw out an arm onto baby. After a few months of sleep-sharing, most dads seem to develop a keen awareness of their baby’s presence.
- Place baby to sleep on his back.
- Use a large bed, preferably a queen-size or king-size. A king-size bed may wind up being your most useful piece of “baby furniture.” If you only have a cozy double bed, use the money that you would ordinarily spend on a fancy crib and other less necessary baby furniture and treat yourselves to a safe and comfortable king-size bed.
- Some parents and babies sleep better if baby is still in touching and hearing distance, but not in the same bed. For them, a bedside co-sleeper is a safe option.
Many of you have heard that it is unsafe to sleep with your babies. I would encourage you read the research. There is a reason why it used to be called crib death. I have found the research shows that less babies die in bed with their parents then do when put in a crib in another room. Obviously use common sense and do not sleep with your baby if you have the following:
Do not sleep with your baby if:
- You are under the influence of any drug (such as alcohol or tranquilizing medications) that diminishes your sensitivity to your baby’s presence. If you are drunk or drugged, these chemicals lessen your arousability from sleep.
- You are extremely obese. Obesity itself may cause sleep apnea in the mother, in addition to the smothering danger of pendulous breasts and large fat rolls.
- You are exhausted from sleep deprivation. This lessens your awareness of your baby and your arousability from sleep.
- You are breastfeeding a baby on a cushiony surface, such as a waterbed or couch. An exhausted mother could fall asleep breastfeeding and roll over on the baby.
- You are the child’s baby-sitter. A baby-sitter’s awareness and arousability is unlikely to be as acute as a mother’s.
- Don’t allow older siblings to sleep with a baby under nine months. Sleeping children do not have the same awareness of tiny babies as do parents, and too small or too crowded a bed space is an unsafe sleeping arrangement for a tiny baby.
- Don’t fall asleep with baby on a couch. Baby may get wedged between the back of the couch and the larger person’s body, or baby’s head may become buried in cushion crevices or soft cushions.
- Do not sleep with baby on a free-floating, wavy waterbed or similar “sinky” surface in which baby could suffocate.
- Don’t overheat or overbundle baby. Be particularly aware of overbundling if baby is sleeping with a parent. Other warm bodies are an added heat source.
- Don’t wear lingerie with string ties longer than eight inches. Ditto for dangling jewelry. Baby may get caught in these entrapments.
- Avoid pungent hair sprays, deodorants, and perfumes. Not only will these camouflage the natural maternal smells that baby is used to and attracted to, but foreign odors may irritate and clog baby’s tiny nasal passages. Reserve these enticements for sleeping alone with your spouse.
For more information check out:
www.askdrsears.com -information about all kinds of parenting issues from Dr Sears and his wife Martha who is an RN. They have first hand experience with their 8 children who are now grown.
www.cosleeping.org/ -links to a variety of websites with co-sleeping information.