5 Tips for Safe Bed Sharing

5 Tips for Safe Bed Sharing

Bed-sharing can be beneficial for the whole family. It promotes breastfeeding, bonding, and healthy sleep habits. Many families say they sleep better when their baby is close to them during the night. Here are 5 tips for safe bed sharing.

The number one concern with bed-sharing is safety, and rightly so. Safety should be the number one rule in bed-sharing. Taking plenty of precautions is the best way to ensure that your baby is safe while bed-sharing, but what precautions should you take?

Here, I'm giving my suggestions for safe bed-sharing based on what I have encountered during my family's own bed-sharing adventures, but the most important thing is to use common sense. Also, trust your mommy instincts; If something doesn't look or feel safe, change it before you regret it.

1.) Don't do drugs

In all seriousness, alcohol, recreational drugs, and medications that cause drowsiness do not mix with bed-sharing. This is true for both you and your spouse. If you need to take special medication, find a safe spot for the baby to sleep that is not in bed with you.

2.) Breastfeed

A study by Durham University found that breastfeeding is an essential component to safe bed-sharing; Mothers who breastfeed naturally assume a safe sleeping position with their babies, while mothers who bottle-feed their babies are much more likely to turn their back to the baby, place the baby too high up in bed, or assume other unsafe sleeping positions.

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3.) Remove soft bedding

Suffocation from overstuffed blankets and pillows is one of the leading causes of infant sleep death. Remove heavy blankets and pillows from your bed. Instead, wear warmer clothing to bed and use lightweight, breathable blankets such as 100% cotton sheets.

4.) Use secure top bed rails or bumpers

Some bed rails create a crack between the mattress and the rail; there is a risk with these rails that your baby could roll into the crack and become trapped. Mattress top bed rails offer a safety barrier without cracks.

Bumpers offer another alternative. They take up some space on the bed but offer a softer barrier than rails. Some lay over the fitted sheet while others go underneath.

5.) Move your bed close to the ground

While as many precautions should be taken as possible, it's important to remember that the risk of falling while bed-sharing is always present. One of the most important things you can do in bed-sharing is keeping your bed low to the ground. Many bed-sharing families ditch the box spring (or put it in storage) and set the mattress on the floor. This ensures that if your baby does fall, the risk of injury is minimal.

Vanessa Pruitt, PLMHP, MS

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