As attachment parenting seems to be becoming the norm rather than the exception, more families are now sharing a family bed instead of insisting that the children stay in separate rooms. Parenting experts say that co-sleeping does seem to promote better parent-child bonding. For moms who choose to breastfeed, the family bed also makes things easier, as it eliminates the need to get up for feedings through the night.
For families that co-sleep, safety issues for babies and toddlers are very important. At these ages, children need to be protected against possible harm such as smothering, falls, or sprains. The following are some safety guidelines for safe co-sleeping with babies and toddlers.
- Make sure that the bed is large enough. Each family member should be able to lie on his or her back, elbows bent, and hands behind the head without touching anyone else. The length of the bed should be at least four inches longer than the tallest person. If you have more than one child, it really is worthwhile to invest in a durable yet cheap superkingsize mattress. If this is still not enough room, you can also use zip and linked mattress to create even wider bed surfaces.
- Ensure that the mattress is firm enough to enable your baby or toddler to easily change sleeping positions throughout the night. A mattress that is too soft may prevent your child from turning on his side or back without assistance. This could cause your child to be stuck in a position that prevents him or her from being able to breathe or move freely.
- Avoid too many pillows, soft toys and other unnecessary items in the bed, especially if your child is too young to be able to get them off his or her face or chest.
- Make sure that your beds and mattresses do not include any materials which can be toxic or irritating to any family member. Keep in mind certain allergies to latex mattresses, or dust mites, or wool fills, among others.
- Never allow anyone who has taken stupor-inducing substances to co-sleep with your child. Such substances include, but are not limited to: alcohol, pain medication, sleep medication, sedatives, tranquilizers, and the like.