There are risks with bed sharing and many new parents think they’ll never bring their baby into bed with them. However research shows that many parents do, and for all kinds of reasons. By far the most common reason is to breastfeed during the night. Breastfed babies need to feed frequently because breast milk is easily digested, and so they need to be fed night and day.
Some parents bed-share as it’s easier to respond to their wee one,. If their baby is poorly, parents may also want to bed-share so they can keep a close eye on their little one. Bed-sharing is also a normal cultural practice for many families from around the world. Although there are positives to bed-sharing, when it happens accidentally, without thought for babies’ safety, it can be very dangerous.
It’s never safe to bed-share if you smoked during pregnancy or if you or your partner smoke, and it’s extremely dangerous if you or your partner have consumed any alcohol or legal or illegal drugs such as methadone or medicines that cause drowsiness. It is also never safe to bed-share if your wee one was or is premature or weighed less than 2.5kg at birth.
Because adult beds aren’t designed for babies, you need to be extra careful that nothing gets in the way of them having a safe sleep. So if you do decide to bed-share, make sure you remove any pillows or heavy bedding so they don’t get tangled or trapped and keep your baby away from any gaps between the bed and the wall and other furniture.
Before you bed-share, double check that you’re happy that it’s safe for your baby. You might want to consider a three-sided ‘bedside’, or ‘side-car’ crib that attaches to your bed. This could be an option if you want to be close to your baby, but you have concerns about bed-sharing safety.
It’s important that all parents are informed about bed-sharing and think about how to manage their wee one’s night-time care, including talking about it with their partner. So if you have any questions, why not chat to your midwife or health visitor? It’s never too early to start thinking about it. And they’ll be able to tell you what to consider before bed-sharing, and how to do it more safely. Or if you want to do your own reading, you’ll find lots of helpful information about caring for your baby at night here and also here.