By Sadiya Jamal, D.O.

If you just had a baby, you’re probably extremely tired, and you may even be sleep deprived. The idea of co-sleeping with your newborn may seem like a good idea for convenience, especially if you’re breastfeeding, but there are many risks associated with co-sleeping you need to know.

Why You Shouldn’t Sleep With Your Baby

The Risks of Co-Sleeping
As much as it may seem like it makes sense to keep your baby close to you at all times, the risks are too high. Co-sleeping with your baby substantially increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation, and strangulation. There isn’t a way to make an adult bed safe for a baby, and as attuned as you may feel you are to your baby’s every move at night, there may be nights you’re just too sleep deprived and won’t notice if your baby’s face becomes covered by a pillow or blanket or that you accidentally rolled on top of baby when you shifted position in your sleep. Newborns can’t roll out of the way. Older babies able to roll over could fall off an adult bed, which could cause serious injury. So it’s just not worth the risk to co-sleep with your infant.

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Safe Sleep Practices for Baby
Having a safe place for baby to sleep is important and can help prevent SIDS and accidents. You can help your baby sleep more safely by following these tips:

  • Put babies to sleep on their backs. Putting your baby to sleep on the side or stomach is not safe. Also, never assume a caregiver knows this; be sure to let your caregiver know you prefer your baby sleep on his or her back.
  • Keep baby’s crib as empty as possible. Be sure to use a firm crib mattress and avoid anything that could cause suffocation like thick blankets, pillows, fluffy padding, or stuffed animals.
  • Don’t let baby get overheated. To keep your baby warm, simply use a sleep sack or swaddle blanket. Also, don’t put anything on your baby’s head for sleeping.
  • Have your baby sleep in your room. Having baby nearby in a crib or bassinet for at least the first six months will help you keep a close watch on him or her. This also makes it easier for breastfeeding moms to nurse and put baby back to sleep separately.
Safe Sleep Practices for Baby

Never forget your baby is depending on you to keep him or her safe. As much as you want to keep your little one close to you, it’s important to make sure your baby has his or her own safe sleeping space. You’ll feel more at ease knowing your newborn is safe.

Dr. Sadiya Jamal is a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in The Woodlands. Her clinical interests include counselling first-time parents, ADHD, development, and newborn care.