Co-Sleeping with Baby



The idea of having your baby sleep beside you in your bed (also known as “co-sleeping”) may be warm and comforting. But is it safe? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warn that infants should not co-sleep with their parents.


Co-Sleeping Risk


During co-sleeping, a baby can be hurt by:

·         Getting trapped by the bed frame, headboard or footboard

·         Getting trapped between the bed and the wall, furniture or other object

·         Falling from the bed onto piles of clothing, plastic bags or other soft materials

·         Suffocating on a waterbed, mattress or soft bedding (pillows, blankets, quilts, etc.)

·         Having a parent roll on top of the baby      
·         Having the flow of breathable air blocked by blankets, pillows, toys or another’s body.


Co-sleeping and SIDS


Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant younger than one year old. About half of SIDS deaths occur when the baby is sharing a bed, sofa or sofa chair with another person.


Other potential problems


Co-sleeping may keep parents from getting a good night's sleep and a baby who co-sleeps may have trouble falling asleep:

·         When s/he is alone at naptime

·         When s/he needs to go to sleep before her parent is ready




·         Never put a baby to sleep in an adult bed.

·         Never place your baby on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress or other very soft surface.

·         Never place pillows, comforters, quilts or other soft/plush items on top of, around or under your baby.

·         Never sleep with your baby if you smoke, have been drinking, or have used medicines or drugs that make it hard for you to wake up.

·         Never overdress your baby for sleep or overheat the room.



Here are ten recommendations for safe sleeping based on the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Policy Statement (SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Expansion of Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment, 2011).

  1. Back to sleep for every sleep—To reduce the risk of SIDS, infants should be placed for sleep in a supine position (wholly on the back) for every sleep by every caregiver until one year of life. Side sleeping is not safe and is not advised.
  2. Use a firm sleep surface—A firm crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet, is the recommended sleeping surface to reduce the risk of SIDS and suffocation.
  3. Room-sharing without bed-sharing is recommended—There is evidence that this arrangement decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent. In addition, this arrangement is most likely to prevent suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment that might occur when the infant is sleeping in an adult bed.
  4. Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib to reduce the risk of SIDS, suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation.
  5. Pregnant women should receive regular prenatal care—there is substantial epidemiologic evidence linking a lower risk of SIDS for infants whose mothers obtain regular prenatal care.
  6. Avoid smoke exposure during pregnancy and after birth—both maternal smoking during pregnancy and smoke in the infant’s environment after birth are major risk factors for SIDS.
  7. Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth—there is an increased risk of SIDS with prenatal and postnatal exposure to alcohol or illicit drug use.
  8. Breastfeeding is recommended.
  9. Consider offering a pacifier at nap time and bedtime—although the mechanism is yet unclear, studies have reported a protective effect of pacifiers on the incidence of SIDS.  The protective effect persists throughout the sleep period, even if the pacifier falls out of the infant’s mouth.
  10.  Avoid overheating—although studies have revealed an increased risk of SIDS with overheating, the definition of overheating in these studies varied. Therefore, it is difficult to provide specific room temperature guidelines for avoiding overheating.

 To learn more about SIDS or the Back to Sleep Campaign see our page on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Young Child Ministries