Are There Risks With Co-sleeping?

Mom and Baby Sleeping

Cosleeping is sharing a bed with your infant. While cosleeping is widely practiced in many Eastern cultures, Western societies generally consider sharing a bed in this manner as questionable. However, when practiced properly, cosleeping is safer than leaving your infant alone a crib. So, which way should you go? Ultimately, the choice is yours, but there are some issues to consider.

Why Parents Choose Cosleeping

Supporters of cosleeping, as well as a number of studies, believe cosleeping:

  • Makes night time breastfeeding more convenient.
  • Allows you to get your sleep cycle to coincide with your baby’s.
  • During your child’s first few months, it helps your baby fall asleep easier.
  • Increases your child’s sleeping time at night. They wake up more often and take less feeding at a time. This increases you and your child’s sleep throughout the night.
  • Helps you retain closeness with your infant if you’re away from them in the daytime.

Risks of Cosleeping

Western countries, particularly the United States, frown on cosleeping. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends against such practices. Although they claim sharing a room is perfectly fine, sleeping in the same bed poses too many risks, including:

  • Suffocation can happen in your bed when your baby gets trapped between various parts of your bed and the wall.
  • Suffocation resulting from your baby being placed on his or her belly. This can happen on any sort of mattress or waterbed, as well as pillows and blankets.
  • Strangulation when your infant’s body passes through an area that traps your baby’s head.

Making Cosleeping Safe

Despite the risks, supporters argue that cosleeping is not only healthy for the children, but can also be done safely. Some precautions are:

  • To reduce the risk of SIDS, always lay your baby on his or her back.
  • Never cover your baby’s head.
  • Making sure your bed parts, including the headboard, footboard and mattress, fit together properly.
  • Instead of using comforters or quilts, try switching to sleepers.
  • Moving your bed away from curtains or blinds. Your child could be strangled by the cords if they’re too close to the bed.

Whether you’re for or against cosleeping, the fact of the matter is there are risks and rewards on both sides. If you’re in the United States where cosleeping isn’t recommended, it may be best to keep the practice quiet. Whichever path you choose, always take precaution to ensure your child’s health and safety.