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How I (Unintentionally) Became a Bed-Sharer — And Nine Tips on How to Bed-Share Safely

How I Unintentionally Became A Bed-Sharer NashvilleMomsBlog

I totally planned on my son sleeping in a crib in his own room. I bought a beautiful (and expensive) crib. I set up a monitor. I got a noise machine. I hung a mobile. Then he came, and I put him in a bassinet in our room. It was only supposed to be temporary. Then, I started wondering how long I could keep him in said bassinet because I really didn’t want to put him in another room allll the way across the hall. Then, I stopped getting up out of bed to nurse him every couple of hours and started putting him in the bed with me. Sometimes, I would fall asleep and wake up in a panic to find that neither of us had moved an inch. Slowly, the panic gave way and I started really enjoying sleeping with my baby. This was around the three month mark, I think. Everything is so hazy from the early infancy epoch. And that is the story of how I became a bed-sharer.

I heard ALL the advice against sharing my bed with my baby. ALL. Of. It. I accidentally dozed off while holding him in the hospital, and they laid the law down hard. I could almost taste their disapproval. I was required to take a class before being discharged from the hospital—which was mostly about not sleeping with your baby accompanied by a few horror stories. I even saw a billboard quoting an autopsy pathologist about how she could be the last person to see your baby if you bed-shared. And how about this ad-campaign?!

Co-Sleep-2

All moms have heard about how we should never sleep with our babies. But we are doing it. LOTS of us. I asked around on several Facebook mom groups, and of the nearly one hundred responses I received, almost 80% said they had bed-shared at some point in their child’s early years. And I’m not talking about for a night or two, I mean for several months or years. Most cited convenience while breastfeeding as their cause. Some just plain loved it. Whatever our reasons, we are bed-sharing. I think it is time the conversation shifted gears from forbidding the practice to how to do it as safely as possible.

Telling mothers not to sleep with their babies is not entirely unlike telling teenagers not to have sex. They might listen to you—but you probably ought to teach them about safe sex just in case. Here are some of the best tips I have found in my quest for safe sleep—just in case.

  • This one seems like it should be obvious, but don’t sleep with your baby if you have been drinking or are under the influence of recreational drugs or prescriptions that may hinder your ability to wake easily.
  • Keep baby on mama’s side of the bed. Moms are more likely to wake if the baby is distressed. It’s in our programming.
  • Do not use down comforters or cushy mattress toppers. Only use the pillows your head is on. Be careful with sheets as baby could become entangled. I just sleep under a quilt. Make sure the bedding cannot cover baby’s head.
  • Put your mattress on the floor. It’s not the classiest-set up, but you will be thankful the first time your baby rolls off the bed. Trust me.
  • If you are uncomfortable with baby being in your bed but want to be as close as possible, use an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper or sidecar your crib. The sidecar trick involves securing baby’s crib to your mattress with the front rail taken off. This extends your mattress, giving you and your child a little separation.
  • If your child is under the age of one, do not bed-share with siblings. Use a co-sleeper or sidecar a crib instead.
  • If you have very long hair, tie it up.
  • Don’t sleep with pets.
  • Keep sleeping infants on their backs.

Got another bed-sharing tip? We’d love to hear it!

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6 Responses to How I (Unintentionally) Became a Bed-Sharer — And Nine Tips on How to Bed-Share Safely

  1. Amy
    Amy February 2, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

    My daughter is almost 5 and she’s been in our bed since about 6 mos old. Prior to that, she and I slept on the couch. Our co-sleeping relationship started from my severe post partum depression– I believed if I left her alone she’d die (PPD is a horrible thing). But then, we, including my husband, realized we loved having her close by because we ALL slept better. Now, she is starting to talk about her own room, so our bed sharing time is almost over…and I’m looking forward to having my bed back to just me and my husband, but at the same time I am SO SAD!!

  2. Avatar
    Katie February 6, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    I was definitely not planning on sleeping with my son in my bed, but it happened and I actually really enjoy it. As my cousin put it “do what ever gets you the most sleep”, he’s almost 5 months now and occasionally he’ll sleep in his crib but most of the time he’s still in my bed.
    I think the best thing I’ve done is set up bumpers on either side of him. It prevents him from rolling off the bed but mostly it prevents him from rolling into me which he has a bad habit of doing.

  3. Avatar
    ceri y February 9, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    Hahahahaha! I’m unintentionally Co-sleeping too but breaking most of these suggestions for safe sleeping. But I think that our ‘setup’is precisely why he wants to be in our bed. My son is 6.5 months old and started in the bassinet. Then, I’d nurse him, burp him and fall asleep accidentally while burping. Then, I experimented with side lying nursing and it was all over with. Neither of my girls I was very successful with this trick so when it worked I was ecstatic! More sleep for all! Plus, with a husband who has to be up early and two girls that need their school sleep, it is important to me that the house stay quiet. So, cosleeping it is!

    But back to that setup, he loves our down comforter. He can only sleep in the middle of us because I only nurse on one side. Our bedroom doesn’t afford the space for a side car setup, the dogs and cat have always taken up residency in our queen bed (good luck breaking that) and my husband is far more likely to smack the cold in his sleep than his sisters would be. But, my son does stay nuzzled up to me and the sheets occasionally cover his head (it’s okay though, in some cultures/climates this is completely normal), I know he is safe (even wearing his amber necklace). And, while I wish he slept through the night, I’ve never woke up tired because both of us get promptly back to sleep once latched. Oh, and one more thing, my nightly glass of wine ain’t going anywhere. Lol.

  4. Avatar
    Melissa February 13, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

    Another unintentional bed-sharer! I didn’t share with my daughter until she got a bad cold right at the 6 month mark. Then I started laying down to breastfeed her (she was also a happy spitter and rarely did she eat fully lying down before 6 months). Then she stopped sleeping through the night and sleep training wasn’t an idea I was comfortable with because she wasn’t eating well. Here we are 5 months later. I’m ashamed to say it but she did fall out of bed one night. We both cried; I cried longer. Then we moved our bed against the wall, filled any gaps between mattress and wall and daddy is the barrier on the non-wall side. Baby #2 is on the way in August so my daughter’s bed-sharing days are dwindling. Mommy keeps adding days though saying “one more week…”

  5. Avatar
    Amanda February 16, 2015 at 8:12 am #

    Another unintentional bed-sharer here! Wow, that ad!?! La Leche League has a great new book on sleep for breastfeeding families called Sweet Sleep. It has so much great info – and some facts about problems with research findings that fuel ads like that. It also has a similar thought as above – the majority of families share at some point, so let’s all know how to do it safely. Thanks for sharing and helping us remember we’re not alone in this choice. 🙂

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