Bed-sharing and Co-sleeping: How to Make an Informed Choice

The research does show that bed-sharing can increase your baby’s risk of SIDS, just as unsafe bed-sharing practices can increase your baby’s risk of accidental death as well. However, research also shows the risk is lower than the possibility of your baby dying in a car accident or accidental drowning. This doesn’t include the additional risk factors that may be present. See my previous article for my in-depth research and statistics. It also assumes practicing safe bed-sharing techniques.

With this being such a divisive topic, it poses incredible challenges. I remember hiding the fact that I slept with my babies from certain people I thought would judge me. I remember sheepishly telling our pediatrician that I was bed-sharing, prepared for backlash. As my son grew older, I felt ashamed that we hadn’t figured out how to make something else work. Then I stopped that and I just trusted my intuition.

Girl, inform yourself and trust your intuition.

You and your partner are the ones that can make the best choice for your baby and your family. When armed with information, you’ll then be able to listen for what resonates and get rid of the rest.

Here are a few other things I’d like to share. Remember to see my previous article for the definition of SAFE co-sleeping and SAFE bed-sharing. 

DockATots and the like:

I don’t remember there being cool things like the DockATot when I was momming my newbies. Many of my clients have used things like the dock-a-tot, Moses baskets, and other such things to put their littles in while in bed with them. There is a lack of research on how these impact SIDS-related deaths as of now. But it appears to be on the horizon.

Most of us Bed-share at some point

Nearly 60 percent of mamas report that they bed-share at least sometimes. Or usually during feeding or after, even with all the warnings from the AAP, etc. If you’ve been avoiding it because you’ve been in fear, I hope reading this has helped. I’d also like you to know that if you’re feeding your babe in a rocking chair or elsewhere, the AAP recognizes that it’s more dangerous than feeding your baby in your bed (with their recommendation to put baby back in their own bed when done and/or after you wake up paragraph 4E in their guide). Interesting, right?!

If you prefer not to bed-share, you can use a carrier such as a ring sling or a wrap to nurse your baby in so you don’t drop them. Be mindful that they have clear airways and no material in or on their face. 

Bed-sharing for Non-Nursing/Bottle-Feeding Mamas

If you aren’t a nursing mom and would like information on bed-sharing for your formula-fed or bottle-fed babe, check out this article.

I’m sending out all the love and GO MAMA vibes I can to you. Encouraging you to let any fear you have to help you get clear on this topic, and any others you’re facing. We deserve and have the right to make informed choices, to trust ourselves and to empower ourselves to make the choices that work for our sweet families.

 

Additional links and resources:

^https://www.arnoldpalmerhospital.com/content-hub/cosleeping-vs-bed-sharing

^https://kellymom.com/parenting/nighttime/cosleeping/https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2018/05/21/601289695/is-sleeping-with-your-baby-as-dangerous-as-doctors-say

https://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/sleep-problems/sids-latest-research-how-sleeping-your-baby-safe

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162938

^^https://www.ncfr.org/ncfr-report/focus/why-rates-bedsharing-infants-are-rising

http://evolutionaryparenting.com/bedsharing-and-formula-feeding/

Dawn Herring
Dawn moved to Florida from Colorado after hearing a quiet, yet persistent voice inside that kept telling her she was “supposed to go live by the water.” A mountain girl at heart, having grown up in Vermont and then declaring Colorado her second home, she thought that was crazy. When she finally said YES, an opportunity in the Tampa Bay area showed up and she moved within a few short months. It was there that she met her husband Greg, and not long after, she became Mama to Savannah and Benjamin who are just a little over a year apart. She is so grateful for all that they’ve taught her, and the part they’ve played in inspiring her to serve women and families as a Childbirth Educator and Doula. She loves to ride her bike with the kids in tow, exploring nature with them, a good cup of coffee, baking, cupcakes, live music and anything that makes her laugh, including her amazing hubby who's great at it.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you so much for educating on bed-sharing! My husband and I fell into it after our son wouldn’t sleep any other way but on top of us. We knew nothing about it, and didn’t know anyone we could ask, and therefore did not safe sleep, out of a lack of knowledge. We are very fortunate that nothing bad came of it, and we learned about safe sleeping a few months later. Safe bed-sharing needs to be talked about more often if so many people (like you referenced in your article) are doing it at some point in their child’s life. We were very lucky to have our son avoid sliding down into the cushions of the couch while he was asleep on us, by the grace of God if you ask me, but not everyone has the same outcome we did. If there were less stigma around co-sleeping, far more people could avoid losing a child due to lack of knowledge. If you think about it, we have seen the same thing with sex education. When abstinence only is taught, far more teens end up pregnant than when safe sex is taught. It is time we learn from our mistakes and start educating more.

  2. I so appreciate you sharing your story Natalie! I believe it’s important to educate and inform and then let parents choose what feels right to them. The more access to the whole scope of bed-sharing/co-sleeping, the more informed choice they can make!

    And your analogy about sex Ed is so spot on too! Let’s face the reality of what’s happening and educate vs vilifying it.

    Thanks for sharing, Mama!

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