The diapers and the feedings are tough — but the hardest part of having a baby definitely comes down to figuring out the sleeping arrangements. No matter how much parents strategize and plan before the birth, they can't prepare for how their bodies will react to caring for a newborn all day and all through the night.
While the American Academy of Pediatrics does not endorse the idea of co-sleeping, many natural parenting advocates say that it's a method that can allow the parents and the baby to get the most rest while supporting bonding and breastfeeding. That sounds amazing, but the reason that doctors don't like the idea is that it can also be very dangerous.
Moms and dads need to be thoughtful about sleeping to make sure that they set up a safe sleep environment for the baby, whether it's in a crib in a nursery, a bassinet in the parents' bedroom or even in the family bed. And there are times when the option isn't a good idea even if precautions have been taken.
Parents need to be warned of any dangers because one bad night can lead to the worst-case scenario. If mom does any of these 20 things, baby should not co-sleep.
20 Really Deep Sleeper
The point of co-sleeping for most parents is to get more sleep. But the situation is dangerous if mom or dad is a really deep sleeper. Having the baby close doesn't matter if you are so deep into sleep that you won't arouse to respond to them.
It's easier to keep the crib as a safe sleeping space, but when the baby is in mom and dad's bed, they need to be fully aware of if the baby is in distress, even if the baby can't really cry. Most moms — even those who are regularly deep sleepers — naturally become light sleepers when the baby is small, whether he is in the bed or not. But that isn't always true, so moms need to be aware of how they sleep.
19 Blanket Issue
There are lots of warnings for new parents about creating a safe space for the baby to sleep in the crib. Other than a tight swaddle in the first few weeks, moms know that they shouldn't leave a loose blanket in the crib because the baby could suffocate. Since the baby doesn't know any better and he can be dressed warmly, that's no big deal in a crib.
But it's a different matter in the parents' bed. Most moms and dads really like to have their own blanket, but that can easily fall on the baby. They might get wrapped up and be unable to breathe. If parents have to have a blanket, they should not co-sleep.
18 Sleep Walker
There are some people who have some issues with sleeping. They have disorders that might be an occasional problem, but it can be a big issue if the baby is in the bed. Sleep walkers should probably not even try to co-sleep.
The issue is not necessarily the walking, but all too often, a person who sleepwalks isn't conscious of what their body is doing. That might mean that they could lay back down right on top of the baby. A parent who co-sleeps has to be aware of the baby's safety at all times, but sleep walkers just can't ensure their baby's safety.
17 No Co-Sleeping With A Smoker
Smoking is a really unhealthy habit, and we hope that most parents kick the habit before they even get pregnant. But if they haven't, it's really important that they think about the impact on the baby before they hold them and certainly before they sleep with them.
Parents should be really concerned about the effects of secondhand smoke. Not only could the baby get cancer or asthma later in life, but it is a big risk that breathing in second-hand smoke from the parents' clothes or sheets could cause their airways to close up. It's very dangerous, so even if the cigarette isn't lit, the baby should not co-sleep if either parent is a smoker.
16 Pet Problem
Many times, the family is already pretty full before the baby arrives. That's because a lot of people choose to allow their pet to sleep in their bed. At times there are two or three dogs to compete with for room, and unfortunately, most animals can sleep as deeply as a human, which means that they won't think about the baby when they turn over.
Any person who has woken up with a cat on their head knows that pets love to be snuggled, but that can mean that they might end up on top of the baby's face, blocking their airway. So if the pet sleeps in the bed, the baby should not — and be sure not to let them take over the crib either.
15 Danger During Adult Time
Adult time is hard to find when you have a baby. And some parents might not really have that in mind among all of the other responsibilities — and aches and pains — in the immediate postpartum period. But eventually, there is a need to connect as a couple, and having some privacy in the bedroom can go a long way.
On top of that, there is a real danger that the baby could get hurt during adult time. Sometimes things get moved around, and the mom might not be aware of what is going on with the baby. It's happened in some extreme cases, so it's a fair warning that the parents need to rethink adult time if the baby is in their bed.
14 Prescriptions Can Be A Big Problem
The majority of accidents that happen during co-sleeping happen when a parent is impaired. That can even happen with prescriptions, which can make a mom or dad drowsy, and that can harm the baby whether she is in the bed or not.
Prescriptions can help parents to sleep deeper, and that might seem like a good thing when they are exhausted and in need of some rest. But a deeper sleep means more dangers to the baby if she is co-sleeping, including rolling over on to the baby or doing something that might cause them to fall or be harmed. So if mom or dad uses prescriptions, the baby should not co-sleep.
13 Size Can Be An Issue
We know that moms might be holding on to a little bit of weight after giving birth, and many times that isn't a big deal. But we wanted moms to be aware that there are times when size can be an issue when it comes to co-sleeping. It's possible that the baby might be better off left in the crib.
The problem with certain sizes is not just about the bed since there might still be plenty of room in a king-size bed. It's about the fact that sometimes it can be a bit harder to feel what's going on by the skin. This applies to dads and moms, so talk to your doctor if you have a concern — it's better to safe than sorry when it comes to co-sleeping.
12 Mom's Long Hair
There are some factors that moms might not think about when it comes to co-sleeping. Their hair might be a big problem, although it wouldn't necessarily be a reason to keep the baby out of the baby. Long hair — which could be on mom or dad, we guess — can be something that the baby gets choked on or smothered with if it isn't secured in place.
Unfortunately, there are cases where the baby can get a hair wrapped around a finger or toe and end up having the circulation cut off. It certainly can happen more if the mom and baby are bed-sharing since the pillow can rub off mom's shedding hair. We're just saying that people with long hair need to be careful and think about their little one before they co-sleep.
11 Small Spaces Can Be Dangerous
A few times, parents have gone viral for actually crawling into the crib with the baby because they wanted to comfort them when they are struggling to get to sleep. But as cute and sweet that image is, parents should know that co-sleeping in small spaces can be dangerous.
The smaller the space, the more likely that the baby can get caught in a crevice, fall off an edge or get their airway covered. That's true in a crib or on a couch. There should definitely be ample room for anyone before even considering bed-sharing.
10 Pillow Talk
Babies don't care about pillows. But many adults like to have some cushioning behind their heads. They are used to having a pillow there, so even though they know that there isn't supposed to be a pillow in the crib, they will leave it in their bed even when they are sharing it with the baby.
Many people adjust their pillows without even thinking, especially when they are half-asleep. If that happens too close to the baby, it could cause a bad outcome. So if a mom or dad doesn't want to go without their pillow, they should forego co-sleeping so that the baby is safe.
9 Are You A Roller?
There are some people who go to sleep and wake up in the exact same position every time. But there are others who move around a lot. They might roll from side to side throughout the night or kick their partner. It's important to know what kind of sleeper you are before you share your bed with a newborn.
Because moms tend to sleep lighter and are more aware of their movements and the baby's, it might be okay. But for people who move around a lot in their sleep, there could be a danger in having the baby in the bed.
8 No Waterbeds Or Soft Surfaces
There are all kinds of beds out there, but not all of them are safe to share with the baby. There are some types where co-sleeping is out of the question, such as water beds.
The baby needs to sleep on a firm, flat surface. Beds that are adjustable heights might be bad since the baby could slide off and get stuck in crevices, and really soft things like water beds or bean bags can obstruct the airway.
7 No Drink Before Bed
Parenting can be stressful, and life with a newborn is definitely tough. Some moms might want to have the occasional adult beverage, especially since she can't do so while she is pregnant. But if she is going to have a glass before bed, she should definitely make sure that the baby isn't sharing it.
That's because of the possibility that she could fall into a deeper sleep than she normally does. There could be a problem with the baby that the mom doesn't wake up for, and that could end really badly. So the baby should sleep in her own bed those nights.
6 Worry About Crevices
If the baby stays in the middle of the bed with no one around, he might be just fine. But beds and sofas give the possibility that the baby could get caught in a crevice, and that can be really dangerous.
Moms need to be aware of the space between the mattress and the headboard of footboard or, if the bed is against the wall, the gap there could be a problem. Sometimes adding on a rail can keep the baby from falling off but add a potentially dangerous crevice. If the baby gets stuck in a crevice, his airway could get blocked, so if there are dangerous spaces, then the baby shouldn't co-sleep.
5 Sleeping With Siblings Is Dangerous
It's really cute when a big brother or big sister snuggles up to the newborn, but if one kid is already in the bed with mom, it's dangerous to add the newborn to the mix. While the parents might be really aware of the baby in the bed, an older baby or small child won't notice.
Anyone whose ever slept near a toddler knows that they don't sleep still, so they could give the baby a kick or worse. As nice as it is to have the entire family together in one bed, babies shouldn't co-sleep with an older sibling because of the potential for something to go wrong.
4 Are Curtains Nearby?
The entire sleep environment needs to be considered when mom decides where to put the baby to sleep. And while her bed might seem safe, she needs to think about whether the room is baby proofed.
Most moms work hard to make sure that the nursery and the living room are safe, but they might not think about the curtains in their own room. Loose cords can provide choking hazards, and if the bed is close to the curtains, those could be dangling dangerously close to the baby. Some baby proofing can make a big difference.
3 Daddy Dangers
As much as a mom might feel safe co-sleeping with the baby, she needs to think long and hard about whether it's safe for the baby to also share the bed with the dad. Any sleep issues that he has can be just as dangerous since he's so close.
While moms tend to be lighter sleepers after the baby's birth, dads don't have the same sensitivities. They may not stir to the sound of the baby monitor or even if the baby is right next to them. If the dad isn't on board and isn't able to co-sleep, then the baby shouldn't share the bed.
2 Mom's Nightie Could Be An Issue
Sleep clothes might not seem like a thing that matters when the baby goes to sleep. But mom's nightie could cause a problem if the family is bed-sharing, so it's important to pay attention to the details.
A t-shirt and shorts are usually just fine, but if the mom likes to wear cute pyjamas or a nightgown, her clothes might have bows or ties that could get inhaled or block the baby's airway. The family might still be able to bed share, but mom might have to change her nighttime wardrobe to do it safely.
1 Exhaustion Warning
Being a parent to a newborn is an around-the-clock job. At the beginning, the baby needs to be fed every two hours, and it can take months before the baby sleeps more than three or four hours at a time, which means moms and dads don't get much rest. While parents run on adrenalin for a while, at some point they reach exhaustion, and that can be a problem with co-sleeping.
When parents are exhausted, they are more likely to get into a deeper sleep and have trouble rousing at any move from the baby. It's safer to leave the baby in the crib when that happens — plus it can allow the parents to get a little more restful sleep before the baby wakes. This might be a good time for room-sharing, where the baby sleeps in a crib or bassinet near mom and dad, but having them in the same bed can be dangerous when exhaustion hits its peak.