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At what age does it become safe to bed-share with my baby?

By Dr. Denise Gassner (she/her), Infant and Child Sleep Expert

What is Bed Sharing?

Bed-Share or bed sharing is when an infant, toddler, or child shares the sleep surface with a parent or caregiver.

Bed sharing | Co-sleeping | West End Mamas

Is it safe to bed-share?

Though many cultures around the world participate in regular bed-sharing practice, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), from a safety perspective it is not recommended before the age of 12 months due to increased risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) reported in bed-sharing relationships. However, the AAP notes that room sharing is a safe and highly encouraged practice, with babies up to at least 6 months, and preferably a year, sleeping in a crib, bassinet, or sidecar (a small sleeping area attached right next to the parents’ bed) in the parents’ bedroom.

“Accidental” bed-sharing (whereby a parent falls asleep while holding the baby, while nursing, for example)) or bed-sharing due to seeing no alternative (parents feel that there is no other way that parents and baby can sleep) is very common, particularly during the fourth trimester (0-3 months of age). Bed-sharing can be practiced with safety precautions in mind to minimize the risks.  Our sleep consultants recommend that any time you think that you may fall asleep with your baby in your arms or on a joint sleep surface you ensure you have no loose sheets or pillows nearby, that your baby is not located near the bed’s edge, that there is plenty of space (this may require parents to sleep separately to avoid crowding), that your mattress is firm (avoid nursing on a sofa or armchair if feeling drowsy), and that you return your baby to their own sleep surface when possible. 

Safe sleep practices 

Other considerations for safe sleep practices include avoiding smoking or use of alcohol or medications that may increase your drowsiness and increase your arousal threshold, making sure your baby’s sleep space is clear of any clutter or loose fitting sheets, positioning your baby for sleep in the supine position (on the back), using a sleep sack/swaddle instead of a blanket, and using a pacifier at the initiation of sleep – this has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of SIDS and can also calm your baby by initiating the sucking reflex.

Sleep Support

If you have any questions or looking to get some sleep support, please contact us. We are here to help! You can also book our virtual sleep support services directly online.

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