Sharing a bed with your baby can be risky but there are things that can be done to make sure it is as safe as possible.
If you think you might ever share a bed, or even if you don’t plan to, here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure your bed is as safe as possible for your baby:
- Do you or anyone in your household ever smoke?
Smoking increases your baby’s risk of sleep-related death, especially while bed-sharing. For support in quitting smoking, visit www.quitnow.ca.
- Have you or your partner recently drunk any alcohol?
Heavier sleep increases the risk that you will roll over onto your baby, which can cause suffocation. It’s best to have another adult on hand to help with your baby if you have drunk any alcohol.
- Did you smoke while you were pregnant?
Smoking during pregnancy increases your baby’s risk of sleep-related death, especially while bed-sharing.
- Have you or your partner recently used any drugs or taken any medicine that might make you sleep heavily?
Heavier sleep increases the risk that you will roll over onto your baby, which can cause suffocation. It’s best to have another adult on hand if you have taken any drugs or medicines that make you less alert.
- Was your baby born premature (before 37 weeks) or small-at-birth (weighing less than 2.5kg or 5.5lbs when born)?
Premature and small-at-birth babies have an increased risk of sleep-related death when sharing a bed, even with parents who don’t smoke.
If you answered YES to any of those questions, then bed-sharing is especially risky for your baby. Your healthcare provider can help you develop a safer sleep plan for your baby.
If you answered NO to all of those questions, review the below checklist before you bed-share. Keeping these things in mind can help make sure that you are bed-sharing as safely as possible.
- Baby is moved far from any pillows and duvets or blankets.
- Baby sleeps on his or her back
- Baby is not swaddled
- The mattress is on the floor to reduce the risk of falls. The mattress is firm and clean (no waterbeds, pillow tops, feather beds or sagging mattresses)
- Baby sleeps on the outside of the bed, not between the parents.
- There is space around the bed so baby cannot get trapped between the mattress and the wall or bedside table.
- Both parents are aware that the baby is in the bed and are comfortable with this decision.
- If either parent has long hair they tie it back, so it can’t get tangled around the baby’s neck.
- Other children or pets aren’t sharing the bed with the baby.
Babies are gifts, and all families share a goal to love, care for, and protect their babies. Read this message from Dr. Shannon McDonald, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at First Nations Health Authority, to learn about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome prevention for First Nations and Aboriginal families.
Remember… NEVER leave your baby alone in an adult bed; adult beds are not designed to keep babies safe.
Make every sleep a safer sleep, day or night… so you can sleep soundly too.
Author's bio: Today’s blog post is based on expert information from Perinatal Services BC and the Ministry of Health. It is one piece in a three part series raising awareness about sleep related infant death.