Q&A: How many blankets are too many when co-sleeping?
If I'm co-sleeping, what kind of blankets are safe to use on my bed? I know my baby shouldn't overheat, but I'm not sure how stripped the bed needs to be.
Co-sleeping, a centuries-old practice, can be a wonderful experience for both Mom and Baby. Done properly and safely, it can make nighttime less stressful for everyone. The key is to make sure you are aware of the recommendations. The topic is a hotly debated one. Some parents hesitate to mention that they are co-sleeping for fear of being scolded by a pediatrician, family member, or friend. The current, and somewhat controversial, statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports bringing the baby to bed for breastfeeding, but recommends placing Baby back in her crib or bassinet to sleep after feeding or comforting.
Dr. William Sears, world-famous pediatrician, father, and founder of the attachment parenting movement, hypothesizes that co-sleeping encourages better sleep for Baby and Mother and that they are physiologically connected. He believes that the mom’s respiratory rate and close proximity help the baby to arouse more easily. Another world-renowned expert, Dr. James McKenna, served on the AAP advisory board for this topic and voted against the association’s recommendations. Based on his extensive research, he concludes that co-sleeping or bed sharing gets a bad rap and has negative outcomes only when it is done unsafely. When there is a problem or accident with co-sleeping it is most often because safety guidelines were not followed. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure the bed is large enough for Mother, Baby, and Partner.
- Do not smoke.
- Keep other siblings from coming into the bed, too.
- Avoid water beds or overly soft mattresses.
- Do not use feather mattress tops.
- Take all extra pillows, heavy blankets, and comforters off the bed.
- Use only a lightweight blanket and/or sheet to cover you while sleeping.
- Do not place Baby between Mom and the edge of the bed or next to a wall.
- Remember: Parents should not be overly sleep deprived, medicated, or intoxicated.
- Do not fall asleep with the baby on a couch as it is narrow and tends to be softer than a bed.
- The bedroom should feel comfortable to an adult (about 72 degrees Fahrenheit). If the baby’s skin feels warm, you may be overdressing her.
- Do not put the baby to sleep on her tummy. The AAP recommends laying Baby on her back for sleeping (obviously she may be on her side for breastfeeding).
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns or questions.