As you know, we at WWC Education are passionate about safe sleep education. We often hear that co-sleeping is a popular choice when it comes to sleeping arrangements.
A common misconception with safe sleep messages is that they do not recognise the benefits of sleeping in a bed with your baby. As much as it is not recommended, recent research suggests a mother breastfeeding her baby in the same bed, positions herself in a way that creates a safe environment for the baby. This behaviour is not only beautiful, it is natural and instinctual.
“Breastfeeding mothers who share sleep surfaces have been observed to adapt sleep environments to the baby. Frequently the mother faces the baby, often in physical contact, with her upper arm above the baby’s head, and knees drawn up under baby’s feet, forming a C-shape (Ball 2006; Young 1999). This positioning facilitates breastfeeding while protecting the baby from being rolled onto or moving up or down the bed. These behaviours are not observed in mothers who artificially feed their infants (Ball 2006; Pemberton 2005; Young 1999)” – Red Nose Education.
Red Nose actively promotes breastfeeding for development and bonding. Their message to reduce risk is clear, and Red Nose proves some valuable reading on sharing a sleep space with your baby.
-Red Nose Provides the following information for parents sharing their sleep space with their baby-
- Sleep baby on the back from birth – never on the tummy or side. If the baby lies on his or her side to breastfeed, baby should be returned to the supine (back) position for sleep.
- Make sure the mattress is firm and flat.
- Bedding cannot cover baby’s face or overheat baby. Use lightweight blankets; remove pillows, doonas and other soft items that could cover baby from the environment.
- Sleep baby beside one parent only, rather than between two parents, to reduce the likelihood of baby becoming covered by adult bedding.
- Ensure partner knows baby is in the bed.
- As an alternative to bedding, an infant sleeping bag may be used so that the baby does not share the adult bedding. (N.B. Do not wrap baby if sharing a sleep surface as this restricts arm and leg movement).
- Make sure baby cannot fall off the bed. A safer alternative is to place the mattress on the floor, be aware of potential situations where baby can become trapped. Also, never push the bed up against this can be hazardous. Babies have died after being trapped between the bed and the wall.
- Never place a baby to sleep in a bed with other children or pets (see SIDS and Kids Frequently Asked Questions for specific advice about the safest way to sleep twins).
- Babies must never be left alone on an adult bed, put to sleep on a sofa, bean bag, waterbed, or a soft sagging mattress.
- Three sided-cots (a cot with one side down) may be available; these can be attached to the side of the bed at the same level so that the baby has a separate environment but is still in contact with a parent during sleep.
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Image: Photo and Video Sponsor of WWC – Courtney Holmes Photography