Room Sharing with Babies: Pointers for Parents

Baby holding the fence

There’s nothing sweeter than having your baby by your side when you go to sleep. It’s one way of forging that bond throughout your baby’s early years. But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises caution on this setup, saying that room sharing is OK, but bed sharing isn’t.

Understand the risks of sleeping with your baby and ensure a safer sleep for your infant with these steps:

Wait for At Least 6 Months

Ideally, your baby can sleep in the same room for a year, but it’s advisable to let your child sleep in a separate room after six months.

There are two reasons you should follow the AAP’s advice. The first one is to avoid the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The risk of SIDS is highest for infants under six months old.

About 3,500 babies die every year in the US due to sleep-related deaths, including SIDS. In fact, it’s the leading cause of death for babies aged one month to one year.

The second reason is that babies sleep longer and more comfortably in their own room. Before you give birth, take the time to arrange your baby’s own bedroom. Install a baby monitor and make sure the room is easily accessible from yours. If you don’t have a choice but to share a bed with your baby, say you’re staying at a relative’s house or at a hotel in Miami, recreate your baby’s bedroom with a rollaway bed.

Make the Crib a Safe Sleeping Space

Baby Room

A crib, bassinet, or portable crib can work as your baby’s sleeping space. Be sure to use a firm sleeping surface that meets the safety standards laid out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC).

The CSPC recommends a tight-fitting, firm mattress with a fitted sheet. When choosing a firm surface, opt for a hard surface that doesn’t indent when your baby is lying on it. Your baby’s crib should have nothing more and nothing less than that.

Stuffed toys may look cute in your baby’s crib, but they’re not safe. Keep loose bedding and soft objects like pillows, quilts, blankets, comforters, and bumper pads away from your baby’s sleep area. Avoid putting any object that might increase the risk of suffocation, entrapment, or strangulation in your baby’s sleeping area. It’s best to sacrifice cuteness for your child’s safety. Never let your baby sleep on a couch, sofa, armchair, waterbed, or old mattress.

The Don’ts of Bed Sharing

There are also some situations that intensify the dangers of bed sharing with babies. Don’t bed share with your baby if:

  • Your baby is younger than 4 months old
  • Your child was born with low birth weight or prematurely
  • You or anyone else in the bed smokes
  • The baby’s mother smoked during pregnancy
  • You drank alcohol
  • There are pillows, blankets, or any soft bedding on the bed

If you choose to bed share with your baby, be aware of the risks and study the “Caring for Your Baby at Night: A Guide for Parents” leaflet prepared by UNICEF. Follow these steps and ensure your baby sleeps soundly and safely.