There is a rapidly rising movement among parents who choose to co-sleep with their babies. While we wouldn’t go so far as to advocate for this practice (and the American Pediatric Association suggests that babies not be allowed to co-sleep), there are a number of things you can do to mitigate the potential hazards for your baby if you choose to co-sleep.

Dr. Sears, a well known advocate of co-sleeping, suggests several things you can do to make co-sleeping safer. These include:

  • Making sure that baby is protected from falling out of the bed by either putting up a safe guard rail or pushing the bed against a wall and positioning the baby between mom and the wall.
  • Placing baby by mom rather than in between parents. The idea behind this is that mothers tend to be more sensitive to any changes with the baby, and are also less likely to roll over onto the baby.
  • Sleep in a king sized bed. This allows much more room for baby and parents and helps alleviate the danger of rolling over onto your baby. Additionally, it’s simply more comfortable for everyone involved.
  • Babies should be placed on their backs to sleep at all times, regardless of whether you are co-sleeping or not. Back sleeping has been proven to dramatically reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Keep older children out of the bed until baby is at least nine months old. Kids aren’t nearly as likely to wake up if they accidentally roll over onto their little brother or sister as parents are.
  • Make sure that the bed is tight to the wall unless you are using guard rails. Also make sure that there aren’t gaps between the mattress and headboard or footboard which baby can fall into.

An alternative to actual co-sleeping which you may want to consider is using a co-sleeper bassinette. Special bassinettes are available which attach directly to the side of your bed, allowing baby to have her own space while still sleeping very close to you. As baby outgrows the bassinette, you could place a crib directly alongside your bed, separating your sleeping spaces while still allowing a certain amount of closeness between you and your baby.