This is a beautiful image of motherhood, and it is likely something many women have done. But is it safe?
According to safe sleep guidelines, no. Falling asleep on a lounge carries a number of risks including entrapment, suffocation, and falls.
How high is the risk?
This is hard to measure, it is likely something many tired mothers and fathers do without intending to do so. Some may be left feeling guilty afterwards knowing they hadn’t followed safe sleep practices. Guilt doesn’t help your parenting.
What are the alternatives?
Laying in bed with baby is a far safer option if you are going to sleep with your baby; while not recommended by SIDS, it remains a lower risk to sleep with baby if planned in a bed than unplanned on the lounge.
For mothers that want to sleep safely with their babies and still follow SIDS guidelines, all that is required is that baby has a separate sleep space. This can be achieved by taking the side off a cot and attaching it to the side of the adult bed, or by purchasing an arms reach co-sleeper. Just be sure that the space remains safe by checking there are no gaps between the cot and the adult bed.
What if the baby isn’t close enough?
Sometimes baby remains unsettled even in a cot directly next to the bed, and it is very tempting even for those who are against bed sharing to bring baby in with them. If you choose to do this, don’t feel guilty about your choice, research actually shows there is no increased risk for SIDS for breastfeeding non-smoking mothers who follow safe sleep guidelines.
How to keep it safe
The easiest way to plan bed-sharing, is to think of the adult bed much like a big cot. The safety principles remain the same for baby. This means:
- A firm mattress (no waterbeds)
- No heavy bedding or pillows near baby
- No gaps between the bed and walls or furniture
- Baby should sleep on the mothers side and not between parents
- If using a rail to prevent falls, ensure it is newborn safe (many carry a risk of entrapment for babies under 18months)
- Keep an adult between older children and baby
- Grandparents should not bed-share with children under 2 years
- No pets in the bed
- Never bed-share if under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or if extremely fatigued
Research does not support bed-sharing for mothers who are obese, smoke, or bottle feeding. However the SIDS safe alternative of using a cot with the side off attached to the bed (or arms reach co-sleeper) is a very good option for those who wish to bed-share but are not in the low risk group.
Why plan to bed-share
Having a plan in place of how you are going to safely co-sleep is beneficial for all parents, even for those who plan to use the cot every night. Many parents end up bringing baby in bed for a variety of reasons, such as:
- the baby is unsettled
- the mother is too fatigued to continue getting up and down
- Baby is sick
- There is additional stress such as travel and the baby isn’t in their normal routine
In these cases, it is far better to know how you are going to safely bring baby to bed, then to end up sleeping with baby in unplanned and unsafe scenario’s.
Need help setting up a safe sleep space for you and your baby? Bundle of Care can assist you to find the best solution for your unique situation. Contact Bundle of Care to make a booking.