Safety First

If you've decided to co-sleep with your baby, you need to know how to do so safely. Read on to learn what to keep in mind before you settle down for slumber.

Mom co-sleeping with baby

There have been a few recent and tragic cases of babies dying in their parents' bed, so you must know the basics on how to keep your little one safe while easily meeting her needs at night.

Mothers, particularly breastfeeding mothers, are so in tune with their babies you might think they are the same person. When a baby stirs, so does the mother, and she can often nurse the baby and get her back to sleep with minimal sleep disturbance. Co-sleeping moms report feeling less fatigue than their peers who get up out of bed at night to tend to their babies. It's a win-win situation, but you have to ensure your sleep situation is safe. Here's how.

How to keep it safe

Never, ever co-sleep when you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This includes prescription drugs and any herbal remedies that make you drowsy.

Position the baby between mother and the wall. Dads are great sleepers -- too great, it turns out. They don't have the physiological wiring to sense the presence of a baby in their sleep and can roll over onto her. Same goes for older siblings, too.

Make sure your mattress is flush against your bedroom wall. You don't want any space between the mattress and the wall for your baby to get trapped in.

Make sure your mattress is firm, and if it isn't -- buy a new one. You don't want anything too soft. When you think about how firm a crib mattress is, you'll want a similar environment for your baby in your bed.

Fluffy blankets, stuffed animals or pillows should not be anywhere near the baby. Again, you are replicating a crib sleeping situation, and you wouldn't put those in bed with an infant. Dress her warm enough so you can leave her uncovered, if need be.

Consider investing in a co-sleeper -- that is, a crib of sorts that you can slide closely to the side of your bed. This way, you can share sleep space if you want, or you can gently roll or move your little one into her own area for sleeping to alleviate any worry you might have.

Keep her on her back to cut down on SIDS risks, just like you would if you were putting her in her own bed.

Meant to be

Scare tactics aside (there have been attempts by various organizations to equate co-sleeping with danger), a sleep-sharing experience is what newborn babies expect. Done properly, it can be one of your favorite memories of your child's first years.

More on baby sleep

Baby sleep positioners unsafe
Early bedtime means better baby sleep
How much do new babies sleep?

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Wish your photo had shown the baby sleeping on its back. Side sleeping while bed sharing could increase a baby's risk of SIDS.