Benefits of Bed Sharing & How to Practice Safely

Bed sharing with our babies is vast becoming a common practice within our homes, but many are still unsure of how to do it safely.

I started bed sharing with Joshua when he was newborn, he just would not settle on his own and I needed to get some sleep so into the bed he came. He stayed in our bed for 19 months and if Zara hadn’t been born then he would probably still be there now. I mean, I wake up some mornings and he’s in our bed so I know he’d be a permanent fixture in our bed if he could.

Zara is now in our bed and even though I have been thinking about moving her into the cot, I’m pretty sure she’ll be in our bed for a while. As I’m still breastfeeding, bed-sharing just works and makes it much easier for night feeds. It means I can feed Zara, whilst lying down, and we normally fall asleep together. It’s a very special moment between us.

 

I’m first going to explain a little bit about the difference between bed sharing and co-sleeping. Many of us, myself included, assume that sharing a bed with a baby is co-sleeping when in fact it’s bed sharing (hello captain obvious). Co-sleeping is when you share a room with your baby but they sleep elsewhere, like a cot. I did write a post about my thought’s on this a while back, you can read it here, this was before I was aware of the difference.

I know that all the health professionals say that bed sharing is a big no-no and that’s because the Department of Health say that the safest place for a baby to sleep, for the first 6 months, is in a cot in your bedroom. This is to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, when you bring your newborn baby home you soon realise that all they want it to be close to their mother, they just spent 9 month tucked up safe and warm inside your womb so of course they’re going to want to stick to what they know.

Bed sharing with our babies is vast becoming a common practice within our homes, but many are still unsure of how to do it safely.

There are so many benefits to bed sharing with your baby and when done safely it offers a positive experience for all the family.

Less night-time crying

When you’re bed sharing with your baby, you find yourself quickly responding to their every move, and because they are right next to you it is much easier to comfort them quicker. If you’re breastfeeding it is very easy to nurse your baby whilst lying down so you don’t even have to get out of bed.

More time to sleep

With baby sleeping next to you, you can squeeze in a bit more sleep than if you are trying to settle your baby back into their cot. A baby will always sleep better when next to their mother so they tend to fall asleep a lot quicker.

Helps with bonding

Being close to you baby helps release oxytocin, better known as the love hormone. This helps both you and baby feel secure, loved and also helps you to relax. I generally believe that this is why I feel calm and sleepy whilst nursing, all due to the release of oxytocin.

Cuddles! Lots of them!

Being a mum to three doesn’t give me much time during the day to give my youngest lots of cuddles. I’m always busy doing something and I have to split my time between all three of my children. Bed sharing provides that time to have a lot of cuddles without being interrupted.

It helps incorporate a daytime/nighttime pattern

Baby’s don’t really know the difference between day and night, it’s something they learn over time. It helps to keep things noisy and bright during the day, then quiet and dark at night. Taking baby to bed with you reinforces that it’s time to sleep when it’s dark and quiet. Of course you don’t have to bed share to do this, but it does help.

How to Safely Bed Share

There are a few things to keep in mind whilst bed sharing, these things are unsafe and increase the risk of SIDS. Do not share a bed with your baby if you’re a smoker or if you have consumed alcohol. Alcohol affects your awareness and can cause you to fall into a deeper sleep, meaning you may not wake to baby’s cries. You even run the risk of rolling over where your baby is sleeping. It is also very dangerous to fall asleep whilst holding your baby, especially on a sofa or chair. You run the risk of dropping baby or even having baby slip down, get trapped and suffocate. With that being said, here are some guidelines to follow to practice safe bed sharing.

#1 Use a firm mattress and bed surface, ensuring your bed sheet in pulled tight.

#2 Keep baby cool, lightly dressed, and ensure they aren’t under your duvet. Use a sleeping bag or light blanket (tucked under their arms) to keep warm at night.

#3 Move your pillow away from where baby is lying. I can’t sleep without a pillow but I always make sure it is away from Zara, enough for me to lie on and be close to Zara but far away enough so that if Zara was to roll then she wouldn’t push her face into it.

#4 Tie back long hair. This probably wouldn’t cross your mind, but your hair can strangle your baby so for optimum safety keep it tied up (also saves baby pulling it out).

#5 Put baby to sleep on their back. Now that Zara has learnt to move around and roll in all directions she has took to rolling onto her tummy and sleeping like that. Even at 8 months old I panic about it and constantly wake to check on her.

#6 Never have baby sleep in the middle of the bed, keep them on the outside. The bed should be against a wall without a gap as baby could roll and become trapped. I use a bed guard on our bed to keep Zara from rolling off.

Do you bed share, or even co-sleep? What works best for your family?

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49 Comments

  1. My kids went into their own cribs in their own rooms from day one 🙂 I can barely share my bed with my husband LOL.

  2. bedsharing is getting more and more common isn’t it, not sure it’s for me but still; a really helpful post on how to do it safely.

  3. Both of my kids slept with us the first few years!! I am glad they are out of our bed now but I wouldn’t have done it differently. As a tired mom it was so much easier to have them right there especially my second who had bad colic.

  4. I’ve heard so many horror stories of parents rolling unto their kids and suffocating them so I never co-shared. These are some great tips though for those who do.

  5. I don’t have children and won’t be having any, but I don’t know if I could do this, one of my cats is a needy sleeper and I’ve had to start shutting my door haha!

  6. This is a great post! I have done this with both my boys. They slept in our bed until they could turn over themselves, after that I moved them into a baby bay type of bed attached to ours, where I just had to stretch out my hand and hold theirs for them to calm down again (unless they were hungry 😉 )

  7. I always shared the bed with my kids because I nursed and it was the only way I could sleep. My DIL always put my grandkids in their crib and they’d cry when they’d get sleepy to go to their beds. That would have never worked with my kids lol. This is a great list and I’ll share it with my daughter who is TTC.
    Terri Beavers recently posted…Apple Pie Jam Canning & Preserves Level EasyMy Profile

  8. As a mom of two, I find it so interesting to read the different viewpoints for bed sharing or not. Your posts includes a great list of ideas. However, I am not an advocate of bed sharing. I like my own space and I think kids need their own space too. Not to say that we don’t cuddle or have sleepovers together in our bed every once in a while.

    1. I was never fond of bed sharing when I had my first baby, but when number 2 came along there was no chance of sleeping if he wasn’t in our bed. So we had to introduce bed sharing. Each parent to their own, we all do what we can to keep our babies happy.

  9. Wonderful information, and oh, how I love the name, Zara! It is such a sweet name for the child, I hope she grows to love it as well. Thank you for sharing!

  10. I don’t have children, so I really don’t know if or if not this would be something I would consider doing! I can see why people would, and why you wouldn’t. It seems like a personal choice dependent on your situation!

  11. I have bed shared with my last two kiddos. I plan to again with this little one I’m expecting. The benefits are really good. I love the less night time crying. Since I breastfeed, it makes middle of the night feedings a lot easier.

  12. My son would not settle without me being close by so he co-slept with us. Honestly, when I was really tired I needed it as he did, but it’s those times when you are so exhausted that it is most worrying.

  13. I have always bunked with my children until they are at least 4. No, we do not have an intimate life, but we enjoy the feeling of being close to our children and it makes us feel closer too. Our bed is a CA King and that gave us enough room to make it to where we but the children in the middle with rolled up blankets under a blanket that we spread out for them to lay on. That kept them in one place and safe, and it kept us from being so out of it that we were to roll over and harm them. Even if they rolled over, they would not smother either. We made the bed as a divided evenly 3 areas. It worked out perfectly. Our youngest is 2. We’ve NEVER had issues with anything happening to them either. Now what happens to us when we get kicked in the face, privates or anything else, or even when they lay on us to where we can’t move, that is a whole different matter when they get big enough. My son lays on my husband when he gets a chance. He’ll throw his body over my husbands neck and lay there like it’s his throne! My husband wakes up, can’t move and then the next thing I know, my husbands arm is stretched clear across the bed and patting me to wake me up to move him so he can get up. It’s the funniest thing EVER!

  14. I breast fed my Son so he always ended up in my bed after the 3am feeding. Sometimes it is nice to have them so close.

  15. We bedshared with number one till he was basically 4. He would rather we stay in bed woth him now but he’s like an octopus. Baby 2 bedshared up until being about 10 weeks old but she is much happier in her cot. I occasionally get a sleepy cuddly nap mid day but she won’t in the night and just wakes up wanting to play.

  16. I admit that I have feelings about this that are informed by the poor marriage I was a part of. I can understand how it could be beautiful and good. But I would put time limits on it and goals to move away from it as well. I definitely wouldn’t stay that way for long with a partner. If the baby has supplanted your partner in the bed, it sends all the wrong signals if it isn’t limited to a very specific time and that you honestly worked to move away from that.
    David Elliott recently posted…Top Ten Things To Know About ParentingMy Profile

  17. No matter what they say, if you think bed sharing will help you and your baby, I think that’s the way to go. You’re being safe anyway, so there’s no harm in bed sharing.

  18. When I had the twins, I had no choice but to go with bed sharing. Two demanding babies, I just needed them near otherwise I wouldn’t be able to sleep at all. It’s good so long as you know they’re safe on the bed.
    Elizabeth O. recently posted…The best sex of our livesMy Profile

  19. I loved sharing my bed with my newborn! I think it’s an essential time for bonding. My daughter is nine now and I really miss when she was little. Precious moments!

  20. I know the official advice is don’t bed share at all but there should be information like this so people who do share can do it safely. I didn’t bed share (apart from a few exhausted middle of the night feeds when I fell asleep) But I often work up to find a toddler had sneaked in my bed tho!

  21. I absolutely love bed sharing with my little guy. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My little guy, wakes up all smiles next to me. <3

  22. These are great reasons to share a bed with your child. It is so important to tie your hair back or put it in a bun if your are sleeping with a child. I actually thought about this when I would lay with my children. Thanks for sharing the information and tips.

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