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Co-Sleeping Safely

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Co-sleeping, which is when children share a bed with their parents, is a hotly debated topic. Some parents say that the risk of smothering a child is too great and choose not to take the risk at all. Other parents say that the ease of night feeding and soothing allows them to get more sleep at night, which makes them better parents during the day. Both arguments have merit, but no matter what side of the debate people fall on, one thing can not be argued: Those who choose to co-sleep should do it safely. 

Bedding

The rule for cribs -- no blankets, no stuffed animals, no pillows -- applies to an adult bed if an infant without strong head control is sleeping in it. Loose bedding can suffocate an infant who isn't strong enough to move her head to create an airway. Instead, use just a bottom sheet and in the winter, turn up the heat a few degrees and wear warm pajamas to bed.

Mattress

Adults can sense the edge of the bed when they're sleeping and avoid it. Babies don't have the same body awareness and when they learn to roll over will roll right out of bed. If only one child is in the bed, let him sleep between mom and dad to prevent a fall. If that isn't an option, place the mattress on the floor to prevent injury when Baby inevitably falls out of bed. Some parents don't like the aesthetics of a mattress without a box spring or frame, and it can look a little college dorm chic if not done carefully. Fix this problem by lifting the mattress a few inches off the floor with a low platform bed. The risk of injury to a baby is still reduced and the style of the bedroom won't be compromised.

Drugs and Alcohol

Parents under the influence of drugs and alcohol should not co-sleep. These substances make people sleep heavy and parents under the influence may be unaware of their child's nighttime needs or worse, may roll over on the baby and not realize it. Rolling over on an infant who isn't strong enough to make her presence or distress known could easily result in her death.  

Co-sleeping with Baby #2

Parents who share a bed with an infant and a toddler should never allow the infant and toddler to sleep next to each other. As any parent who's witnessed the late-night movements of their toddler can attest, toddlers are active sleepers. As a result, they can easily roll over on an infant sibling and suffocate her. A parent should always separate the two children in bed or offer the toddler a separate mattress on the floor so he can be close to Mom and Dad at night but not pose a risk to his younger sibling. 


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