Bed Sharing With Baby – Safely

how to bed share safely with baby

When I left the hospital with our two day old baby Luca, the one BIG (and only) advice I was given was the following: DO NOT BED SHARE. Little did I know then, we would be bed with our baby -safely.

They said “maybe your mother, grandmother or friend says they’ve done it successfully and with no issues but absolutely do NOT follow their advice. Keep baby sleeping in the crib on their back and with no additional blankets, pillows or toys. Bed sharing is not safe. 

Mama-and-Baby-in-Bed
In bed with Luca as a newborn

That first night home from the hospital was a nightmare. Putting theory into practice was harder than I imagined. The night ended with our baby Luca finally sleeping a few hours on his own in the bassinet come dawn. 

I’d been with Luca all night trying to put him down once he fell asleep. However every time he’d touch the stiff surface of the bassinet he’d wake up. It didn’t help that his startle reflex was very sensitive to any movement at all. 

I thought to myself – how are other families doing this?!

We had gotten this gorgeous bassinet in anticipation of Luca’s arrival and sent MANY pictures of us with it to friends and family. I was sure that having our baby sleep in the bassinet instead of in bed was as simple as “just deciding one over the other”. 

baby in bassinet
We had no idea what was about to happen

Babies arrive with their own opinions right out of the womb! 

We had a baby who DID NOT want to sleep away from his mother. We had brought home a strong willed one. Luca and I started sharing the bed full time by the end of the first month of parenthood. 

Bedsharing has been a journey with both its ups and down. Anyone who says it’s easy is lying. I do however wake up more rested than if I had to get out of bed every time he’d wake. After all is said and done I strongly believe it was the right decision for us. I will share the reasons why I personally love bedsharing further down in this post.

With time I’ve realized that we were ‘blessed’ (cue eye roll)  with what society would refer to as a “bad sleeper”.

This is a baby who prefers full body contact aaalllll niiiiiiiight looooooong and wakes every 2 hours well beyond infancy. I thought this was the norm for ALL babies but when more and more people around me were becoming parents a different picture was emerging for me. 

Others had babies who just seemed to sleep through the night with no issues very early on. Although those true unicorn sleepers are probably few and far between, I’ve made my peace that Luca is far down on the hourly sleeping graph and high up on the hourly waking graph.

Does this sound like your child?

There seems to be a strong divide between the moms who’s children sleep in cribs and those who bed share. It’s important for me that the readers of this blog understand I am not suggesting that bed sharing is a must for every family.

(What is a must though are these 5 FREE Self Care Ideas for a Bad Day)

Instead, I want to offer a place of support for those mamas who want to bed share but are scared of the backlash from society. 

I am the first to admit that bed sharing is not for everyone.

It is not a 100% cure for burnout. Bed sharing does not guarantee 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. 

However,

Bed sharing is a beautifully bonding experience between child and parent. It has plenty of positive ramifications for secure attachments. Bedsharing can be safe if guidelines are followed. 

For those of you who think they’d enjoy bedsharing but are on the fence I’d like to share a few informational points that might just tip the scale in favor of bed sharing with your little one. Make sure to continue scrolling to read why I personally love bedsharing.

bed sharing safely with baby
Luca 4 months old bed sharing during a family trip to Minnesota

7 Amazing Facts about Bed Sharing Safely

Sources are listed at the bottom on this post. 

Your Friends are Doing it

In the USA roughly 68% of babies enjoy bed sharing at least some of the time. (Your mom-friends have co-slept, they are just not admitting it to anyone).


Helps Prolong Breastfeeding

Any bed sharing during the first year significantly increases the length of breastfeeding (I highly recommend reading the Womanely Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League)


Other Cultures Bed Share

Japan is commonly known for having the lowest rates of SIDS yet bed sharing is the norm. A contributing factor being their maternal smoking rate is close to 0% and their breastfeeding rates are up at 70%-75%.


The Car is Riskier

A low risk baby (born normal weight and sleeping with parents who don’t drink, smoke or take drugs) is almost double as likely to die in a car accident than of safely bedsharing


The Bubble

When a mother and breastfeeding baby bed share the mother’s breathing creates a bubble of carbon dioxide around the baby that reminds them to breathe, decreasing their chance of SIDS. 


The Research

Many studies related to SIDS include babies who slept in unsafe settings. These settings include a parent in bed who drank alcohol or did drugs; or a parents who fell asleep with the baby on the couch. It also includes infants who were born premature and underweight and therefore are HIGH RISK and should NOT be in bed with you as a new born. 


Fear of Clingy?

Bed sharing will not create a clingy child. If your child is clingy early on it’s most likely a character trait of their existing personality. It is developmentally normal for most children to have a strong preference towards being near their parents and that immediate dependence is will naturally fade with time. This is regardless of your sleeping arrangement or wether your toddler was taught to soothe on their own at an early age. In fact studies show that the TRUE component to emotional wellbeing as an adult is forming a secure attachments early in life with your primary caregiver.


I want to reiterate that there is NOT a one size fit all sleep solution. I DON’T believe that bed sharing is for everyone. 

But I do think there is a lot of unnecessary fear around the topic of bed sharing and it’s time for the topic to no longer be so taboo.

My Bed Sharing Story

You made it to the segment onto why I LOVE bedsharing. Despite its ups and downs I feel a sense of pride and fulfillment when my toddler Luca (now 27 months old) is laughing and giggling in bed with me. There’s no fear of being left to his own devices. 

bed sharing with toddler

My arm is wrapped under his head while he tosses left and right. He will often have a toy in his hand while switching between nursing and playing with his gadget. The night in which I am writing this post he chose his dinosaur and managed to poke me in the eye with its tail. Ouch!

Eventually he will calm down, the nursing becomes more consistent and all of a sudden I look down at him and he’s dozed off to slumberland. 

There’s no rocking, no back patting, no crying it out. I just lay in bed scrolling on my phone while I let the nursing do it’s magic. I get to relax too. 

Now at 27 months he will roll away from me within 15 minutes of falling asleep. I can consistently get up in the evening (around 8pm) to do my thing and 90% of the time he’ll stay asleep until I return for the night. 

If you are at the beginning of your parenting journey and really struggling send me a message below. Hopefully I can share resources and tips that might just help you to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

I promise you there is an end to everyone’s tunnel. Its hard to see sometimes for me too.


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Sources:

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2 thoughts on “Bed Sharing With Baby – Safely”

  1. Being a Granny remembering hours of rocking, back patting and singing til we both colapsed, it sounds just wonderful And so right lying down with your baby letting him learn to calm him self with his mommy always by his side. Also very interesting about the ”carbon dioxide bubble” around the baby that reminds them to breath! Keep on going following what suits you and your baby best. Lots of love:-)

    1. Thank you Mormor! I must imagine as a grand mother you have great insight. The special benefits of breastfeeding for an infant while sleeping with mother are amazing and I wish they were better talked about.

      Take care!

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