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Is Bed-Sharing OK for My Baby?

I'm pregnant with my first child. I'm thinking about letting my baby sleep in bed with me and my husband. Is this OK?
- Natalia

It's not the safest option for your family. Experts recommend room-sharing without bed-sharing to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths in infants.

Bed-sharing — letting your baby sleep in the same bed with you — is one type of co-sleeping, which is when parents sleep near their baby so that their little one can detect their presence by seeing, smelling, or otherwise sensing that they're nearby.

Most experts agree that co-sleeping (sleeping near your baby) is a good thing to do, but people often disagree on bed-sharing. Fans of bed-sharing say it helps a baby fall asleep, is easier on nursing mothers, and promotes the bond between parent and child.

But besides making a baby dependent on being with his or her parents to fall asleep, bed-sharing can be dangerous. Adult beds can be unsafe for babies. Parents can roll over onto the baby, the baby can be suffocated in the bedding, or the baby could get trapped between the mattress and a wall or headboard. An infant could even fall off the bed entirely. Studies show that bed-sharing may increase the risk of SIDS, especially for babies whose mothers smoke.

Instead, enjoy the benefits of sleeping close to your baby by room-sharing, which means having your infant's sleep space near your bed, but not in your bed. You can keep your baby near you by having him or her sleep in a bassinet, crib, or play yard. And products are available that attach to the side of the bed so that babies are within reach of their parents but still in their own safe space.

If you do choose to bed-share, be sure to:

Do not bed-share if you are a smoker or have taken any drugs, alcohol, or other substances that could make you groggy and less responsive to your baby (such as nighttime cough medicines, certain pain medications, antidepressants, or sleep aids).

Reviewed by: Rupal Christine Gupta, MD
Date reviewed: October 2014

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P    Sleep and Your 1- to 3-Month-Old
P    Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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