For parents wondering when is co sleeping safe?, there are many factors that need to be considered. But the #1 most important one might not be quite what you think…
To know when the right time to start co sleeping with your little one might be, you first need to know the differences between the types of co sleeping that parents might choose to practice as a family.
Because as it turns out, there are many different sleep practices that often get grouped under the “co sleeping” umbrella.
And while some—like enjoying the benefits of a bedside co sleeper—offer an ASTM, TÜV, and Confidence in Textiles certified-safe solution for helping baby catch some rest while sleeping by your side, other common co sleeping practices don’t offer the same safety guarantee.
“Bed sharing,” for example, references the practice of inviting a baby into your own bed to sleep during the night. Though bed sharing is often considered one form of co-sleeping, there are key safety differences between the two.
So let’s break down what those differences (and similarities!) happen to be…
Bed Sharing: What to Know About Safety and The Question When Is Co Sleeping Safe?
The American Academy of Pediatrics knows that keeping your baby close during the first year of their life carries a whole host of benefits (like making nighttime nursing a breeze and helping you easily respond to every crisis call).
That’s why they recommend room sharing with baby for at least the first 6 months of their life, and ideally through the first year.
But in the eyes of the AAP, room sharing is not the same as bed-sharing.
While bed-sharing with 6 month-old or younger babies can carry risks like concerns about comfy bedding, soft objects, or any other pillowy or quilted materials causing harm, room sharing does not create these same concerns.
When you room share, you offer baby the firm, made-just-for-them sleep space they need to feel comfortable, cozy, and safe all night long.
You get to enjoy the adult mattress and oh-so-plush bedding you’ve come to love, while giving baby a sleeping space all their own that is perfectly designed to support them and keep them safe.
Which is the kind of win-win that bed sharing does not always guarantee.
When Can You Start Room Sharing?
Because you’re sharing a space rather than sharing a bed, you can room share with baby from the first moment they come home from the hospital.
On the other hand, bed-sharing with 6 month-old or younger babies is not as easily recommended.
That’s because your baby has yet to learn the escape artist skills they need to untangle themselves from any soft fabrics that come their way. (Those escape artist skills will come one day! But not for a while down the road.)
That’s why many parents of young babies choose to confidently practice a form of co-sleeping that give baby a sleeping space that’s made just for them.
With a bedside co sleeper securely attached to your bed, this is the kind of confidence you get from the first day you bring your little one home from the hospital.
How to Co-Sleep Safely: Down to the Details
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be hard to co-sleep safely.
There are certain gold-star co sleeping practices that help you get stress-free nights of sound rest while supporting your baby’s body and mind.
Bedside sleepers deliver all the benefits of co sleeping like more bonding time with baby, easier nighttime nursing, and boosted support for baby’s healthy physical and mental growth. While also gifting you with peace of mind (which is one of the best gifts of all, can’t we agree?).
Bedside sleepers like the babybay attach snugly to the side of your own mattress, allowing you to sleep comfortably on the soft bedding you love while giving your baby a made-just-for-them sleeping space that properly supports their needs.
That means they can enjoy the firm mattress that’s safest for them—without you having to sacrifice any of your own sleep comfort.
The best part? Bedside co sleepers allow you to always be within arm’s reach of your baby all through the night. That means you’ll be able to soak up all the close-by-baby benefits of co sleeping, without a single moment of stress or worry.
When Is Co-Sleeping Safe with a Bedside Co-Sleeper?
The babybay bedside co sleeper has been lovingly designed to support your baby through nights of safe co sleeping as soon as they come home from the hospital.
That means that the babybay will be there to support all of your co-sleeping needs from the moment that your baby is born!
And when you feel it’s the best age to transition from co sleeping, you can be sure that your baby will be ready to get full nights of rest all on your own, with full confidence that you’re there to support them during every step of the way.
That’s why parents that wonder when is co sleeping safe? should keep this in mind: how you co-sleep matters when you’re trying to decide the right time to start.
So what is co-sleeping?
Whether you’re a preparing parent-to-be looking into all of the sleep set-up options out there, or have simply heard about co-sleeping on the playground and are wondering what’s up — let us introduce you to one of the oldest and most parent-loved sleep practices out there.
We’re about to break down the what, why, and how of co-sleeping, while giving you all the inside insights you need to decide whether co-sleeping is right for you and your family.
Let’s Start with the Basics: What is Co-Sleeping?
Co-sleeping is often used as a catch-all term to describe the experience of sleeping with your baby close by.
Co-sleeping may look a little different for every family. Parents may lay their child in a safe bedside sleeper that attaches to the side of their own bed, or they might share a bedroom with their child but encourage baby to sleep in a separate crib (this kind of sleep practice is more often — and more accurately — referred to as “room sharing”). They might even sleep with their baby nestled up against them all through the night.
Though there are many ways to co-sleep, some are far safer than others. (Bedside sleepers, we’re looking at you and giving you a gold star!)
With a safe sleep tool like a bedside co-sleeper by your bedside, you’re able to sleep with your baby no more than an arm’s reach away. This makes nighttime nursing a breeze, while giving you up-close-and-personal insight into when (and how!) your baby needs a little extra support during the night.
When Did Co-Sleeping Become a Thing?
Though parents in many modern Western countries have popularized separate bedrooms and detached cribs, for thousands of years parents have been going to sleep with their newborn baby curled up close to their side.
In fact, parents from many different cultures have long understood that co-sleeping promotes healthy emotional and physical development while bonding you and your baby, easing the stress of nighttime nursing, and gifting everyone in the house a more restful night of rest.
(A full night of rest—now that’s something at the top of every new parent’s wish list!)
But as soon as mattresses and cribs became the new in-trend home fashion statement of the 19th century, parents in the Western world increasingly kicked children out of their own beds and moved them into mattresses and rooms of their own. In America, Canada, and Europe, some parents continue to boot children out of their own bedroom and encourage them to sleep through the night alone.
However, anthropologist John Whiting surveyed 186 cultures and found that solitary sleeping might be a Western trend, but it’s far from a universal norm. He discovered that almost 70% of children living and growing around the world sleep in the company of others.
That proves that co-sleeping isn’t just a trend — it’s the most popular and longest-loved sleeping practice in history.
Co-Sleeping Benefits: What Parents Like Best
When it comes to co-sleeping benefits, there are some that support your body, some that support your mind, and some that are fully focused on helping your baby develop healthily.
Research has shown that parents remain physiologically connected their baby long after they’ve given birth. Co-sleeping builds off this connection by setting parent and child in the close proximity they need to become responsive to breathing patterns and uniquely attuned to wakefulness.
Experts have also discovered that this kind of night-time close contact leads to a host of other benefits for baby, by helping them:
- Stabilize their body temperature
- Breathe more regularly (partly by matching their breathing patterns to their parents)
- Use energy efficiently
- Grow more quickly
- Feel more calm and experience fewer moments of heightened stress
It also helps mothers (especially those who are getting used to getting sleep after c-section) by making it easy to nighttime nurse without getting out of bed, or offer comfort without continuously needing to reach over crib bars.
But How Does Co-Sleeping Deliver All These Benefits?
To grow healthily in body and mind, your baby needs to be able to receive—and respond to—a ton of sensory feedback. When babies are shut alone in their room at night, they lose the opportunity to grow their sensory awareness during their sleeping hours.
But when babies are able to sleep close to others, they learn to bond and build meaningful connections while learning, growing, and developing an ability to separate and identify different sensory input.
This helps them breathe more regularly, while experiencing less stress overall by learning what it feels like to be safe, secure, and protected.
(And that’s good news—because when babies are less stressed, they put more energy into healthy growth and reap the rewards of a healthier immune system!)
Before We Go: What Is the Difference Between Co-Sleeping and Bed Sharing?
Many parents who start to explore co-sleeping will find another term pop up in their suggested searches: bed sharing.
Bed sharing is just as it sounds — it’s the practice of inviting your newborn not just into your bedroom, but onto your mattress as well.
Though bed sharing may boast some of the same benefits as other forms of co-sleeping — including increased bonding between parents and child and a less stressful night’s sleep for all — it can also be far less safe.
The feather-topped, super-soft, oh-so-pillowy mattresses that most of the Western world prefers can’t properly support your baby throughout the night. Your baby needs firmness and stability under their body while they sleep to ensure their body’s healthy growth.
Though baby will love having you nearby as they rest, they won’t love your sleeping surface. Nor will they love all the extra blankets, pillows, and other comfort materials that adults love to surround themselves with as they sleep.
As comfy as it might be for adults to tuck into a long night surrounded by a cloud of goose down, those comfort items can easily get wrapped around your baby throughout the night and lead to unsafe situations. That’s why parents should choose safe sleep for babies when setting up their environment.
By choosing a bedside sleeper that fits flush against their bed, parents can control the specifics of their baby’s environment. (The first step? Pick a bedside co sleeper that’s right for baby and right for your room!)
Baby can sleep securely nestled within an arm’s reach of their parents, but feel comforted and protected on a mattress that is firm enough to support them and ensure safe sleeping. They can receive, learn, and grow from all the sensory input they receive throughout the night — while their parents sleep soundly knowing that they are safe in a bedside sleeper built just for them.