The Co-Sleeping with Your Baby Guide
4 min read
Last Modified 25 July 2023 First Added 11 October 2022
Spending quality time cuddling your baby is a special experience – one that you can cherish forever. It helps your baby to feel safe, loved, and secure when they are close to you. This is just one reason why many parents choose to co-sleep.
As a parent, or parent-to-be, you may have questions about co-sleeping; as a new parent, I used to wake up at night and check that my son was breathing. It’s so scary when you first become a parent as you have no idea what to do, but don’t worry. We’re here to help when it comes to sharing a bed with your baby.
Co-sleeping simply means you share a sleep surface with your baby. Whether it be whilst nursing, comforting, or sleeping, it means you and your child are close to one another.
This is a personal choice for every parent. For some, co-sleeping is a way to feel closer to your child and help assuage any sleep anxieties. For others, it is a last resort when sleepless nights take their toll.
Whether you plan to co-sleep or it happens naturally over time, it’s important to make sure that your baby’s sleep space is as safe as possible.
If you do choose to co-sleep, here are some safety precautions to help reduce the risks of sharing a bed with your baby.
Keep pillows, sheets, and blankets away from your baby, taking particular care to keep their head uncovered to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Anything that could potentially restrict their breathing or make them overheat should not be in your bed. If your room temperature is cool, invest in a safe sleeping bag for your baby, it’ll keep them snuggly and safe.
If you have the luxury of space, invest in a king-size bed so make sure you have plenty of room to co-sleep safely. When it comes to mattresses, a firm, flat mattress that mimics the bottom of a cot is the best choice. Take extra care to make sure your baby cannot be trapped by any gaps between the mattress and any surrounding walls.
It is important to always put your baby to sleep on their back. A recommended co-sleeping position to adopt is the “C” position, where you lie on your side and face your baby. Your body shape will look just like the letter C. Bring your knees up under your baby’s feet, then put your lower arm above their head to keep pillows away. This also stops you from rolling forwards and backwards.
To make the sleep environment as safe as possible, it’s important to keep others away from the bed whilst your baby is in it. Make sure older children and pets are kept well away to prevent accidents. It goes without saying, but never leave your baby unattended in an adult bed.
It’s also important to never fall asleep on an armchair or sofa with your baby, as research has shown it increases the danger of SIDS by 50 times.
The Lullaby Trust recommends assessing how appropriate it is to co-sleep before every bedtime, as any change in circumstances can impact your baby’s safety.
For the first six months of your baby’s life, it’s safest for them to sleep in the same room as you, in their own crib, cot or Moses basket.
If you have been co-sleeping during this time or after, as your baby grows into a toddler, you may find they no longer want to sleep in the same bed as you. Finally, you can stretch your legs!
As a parent, always listen to your baby, trust your instincts, and you’ll know when it’s time to sleep solo. For more advice on transitioning your little dreamer into their own cot, read our step-by-step guide to stop co-sleeping.
If you’re unsure which sleeping arrangements are best for you and your family, talk to your health visitor for more advice.