Guidelines for Safe Cosleeping

Baby isn’t born yet, but some things you have to plan ahead for like where Baby is going to sleep!

If you’ve considered cosleeping (which actually means sleeping in the same room – “bedsharing” means sleeping in the same bed) but you’re a little scared, consider this:

“Heron’s 1994 study of middle class English children found children who never slept in their parents bed tended to be harder to control, less happy, exhibited a greater number of tantrums and were more fearful than children who always slept in their parents bed. Lewis and Janda in a 1988 study determined that males who co-slept with their parents between birth and five years of age had significantly higher self-esteem and experienced less guilt and anxiety.” //

Now, before you go rushing off to the nearest parenting or sleep expert, take a look at the work of University of Notre Dame’s Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory.

They use both traditional anthropological research techniques as well as medical research techniques to “cut through myths and controversies to provide…accurate scientific information on…safe co-sleeping practices.”

They’re looking at the past and present, what’s safe and what’s not, and what works and what doesn’t within each family to understand “normal, healthy infant sleep.”

Now those are real experts in my opinion.

Below are the Safe Cosleeping Guidelines according to Dr. James J. McKenna, Director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory:

How to Create Safe Sleep Environment

– It begins in the womb: no smoking while pregnant!

– Breastfeed to protect newborns from death.

– The cosleeping parent should be informed and committed.

– Babies should sleep on their backs.

– The sleeping surface should be clean, firm, and not have any toys or pillows.

– Do not place Baby to sleep on top of a pillow.

– No smoking around Baby!

– Baby should not sleep on couches or sofas, even with an adult around.

How to Safely Cosleep (specifically, bedshare)

– Bottlefeeding babies should sleep on a separate surface near Mom, not in bed with her.

– Both parents should agree to bedsharing, and feel comfortable with it.

– Parents must be aware Baby is there. If Mom or Dad is sleeping, wake them up so they can acknowledge Baby is in bed with them.

– Infants (less than one-year-old) shouldn’t sleep with older siblings.

– If an adult is unable to arouse easily due to sedatives, medications, alcohol, etc. should not cosleep with Baby.

– If Mom has excessively long hair it must be tied up so it doesn’t get wrapped around Baby’s neck.

– Extremely obese parents who find it hard to feel exactly where Baby is or how close they are should consider a cosleeper attachment rather than sleeping in bed with them.

– If, in the unlikely scenario you baby dies from SIDS, which happens in both risk-free solitary environments and risk-free cosleeping/bedsharing environments, ask yourself – would you blame yourself? It’s uncomfortable, but worth considering.

If you want to bedshare but aren’t quite ready to share your bed freely, consider the as an option. You can keep Baby in bed with you while assuaging many of your safety fears.


According to Dr. McKenna, human babies should not sleep alone. If you can cosleep safely, why not?

That was a lot of info, but now you can consider yourself informed. Now the question remains – are you committed?

Happy co-sleeping!



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