It's tempting to keep your baby close for lots of cuddles when you sleep. When they wake up in the middle of the night, the last thing you want to do is get out of bed. However, co-sleeping, or sleeping with your baby in the same bed, is very dangerous. It could even cost your little one their life.
Every year, almost 3,500 babies in the United States die due to sleep-related incidents. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is one of those causes. While SIDS isn't completely preventable, avoiding co-sleeping creates the safest-possible sleeping environment for your baby.
Experts recommend that babies who are six months and under should sleep in the same room as their parents, but in a separate bed or bassinet. Some even suggest keeping your baby in your room for the first year.
Preventing other sleep-related deaths
The other major cause of sleep-related death in infants is suffocation. This usually happens during co-sleeping. No matter how careful you are, there's always the potential that you can roll over on top of your child, and statistics show that this dangerous trend is on the rise.
Statistics also show the number of parents who slept with their small babies more than doubled between 1993 and 2010. It is important to remember your baby should always sleep alone and in a separate bed.
Tips for safe sleeping
Here are some actions steps you can take to ensure your little one is as safe as possible when they are sleeping:
- Always place your baby on their back while they sleep. Do this until they're at least one.
- Babies should always sleep on a firm mattress especially designed for young infants.
- Be careful where you place your crib. Windows, air vents, cords, window treatments and other items may create safety hazards.
- Don't add any kind of soft bedding or toys to your baby's crib. A fitted sheet is all the baby needs for the first year.
- Don't rely on monitors to keep up with your baby at night. Have your little one sleep in your bedroom in a separate bed for the first six months to a year.
- If you feel sleep deprived, make sure you hold your baby in a safe location. Falling asleep in a chair or sofa can cause you to drop the baby.
- Make sure your infant stays cool at night. If they're too cool, add sleeves and pants instead of blankets.
- Stay up to date on the current crib and bassinet safety standards. Avoid using old baby gear and hand-me-downs that may not meet current standards.
Want more healthy tips for your kids? Check out our check list for immunizations by age.