Should You Cosleep with Your Baby?
As many new parents discover, babies are often happiest when they’re snuggled up against their mom or dad. In an attempt to keep your little one happy and catch some much needed shut-eye, it may be tempting to bring your baby into bed with you. This is known as co-sleeping or bed sharing. Doing so, however, is extremely dangerous. Research shows that it puts your baby at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other dangers such as suffocation or falling off the bed.
Safer Ways to Sleep
You can still keep your baby close at night without bed sharing. The safest place for your newborn is near your bed in a bassinet or crib. That way, you can easily check on and feed your baby during the night. Having your baby sleep in your room—on a separate surface—can reduce the risk for SIDS by an impressive 50 percent. Be vigilant about accidental co-sleeping, too. If you nod off while nursing or bottle-feeding overnight, put your baby back in his or her own safe sleeping area as soon as you wake up.
In addition, follow these safe sleeping guidelines:
Put your baby in a crib with only a firm mattress and fitted sheet—keep toys, blankets, pillows, and all other bedding out of your baby’s crib.
Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep.
Keep your baby’s crib in a smoke-free area.
Bonding with Your Baby
Despite sleeping separately at night, there are still many ways you can soothe and bond with your baby during the day. For example, wearing your baby in a carrier helps reduce crying, supports bonding with your baby, and aids your baby’s development.
In addition, skin-to-skin contact, also known as kangaroo care, is another way to keep your baby close while you’re awake. Simply hold your baby wearing only a diaper against your bare chest. Cover your baby’s back with a blanket to keep him or her warm. Skin-to-skin contact can help your baby sleep, regulate his or her heart rate and breathing, and reduce crying. It also has benefits for you, such as promoting breast milk production, reducing stress, and making you feel more connected with your baby.