When it comes to attempting to get a good night's sleep, having a family bed can be the answer. But before you embark on a family sleep over, there are safe family bed practices to consider, all in the name of sleeping soundly.
Many families opt for a family bed because babies like to be close to their mom. It makes sense, seeing as they just spent 10 months in her womb. For many kids, this need for closeness continues even as they hit more milestones. Some kids just sleep better when right next to you, and if your child is getting a restful sleep, that means you are, too.
The benefits of bed sharing also go beyond just getting enough sleep. In fact, according to a recent Romper article, kids who slept in the family bed turned out to be more independent, had greater family trust, and enabled them to have better sleep habits in the long run.
The benefits to having a family bed whether you have an baby, toddler, or big kid are there as long as it's done safely. Here are a few factors to consider to keep everyone safe (and sane) when sharing the family bed.
1. Consider The Ages Of Your Kids
According to Dr. Sears's website, Ask Dr. Sears, if you have more than one child, you shouldn't have everyone in the bed if the baby is under 9 months old. Older kids aren't as aware of their surroundings especially as they sleep and that could prove dangerous for the little one.
2. Make Sure Your Mattress Is Firm
A firm mattress is key when it comes to bed-sharing with kids younger than 1 year old due to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). According to KellyMom, you should avoid a waterbed as the family bed, sheepskin or anything really soft, and generally nothing your kid can sink into and suffocate. From personal experience, the firmer the mattress, the less it will bounce (and therefore wake you up) when your older kid tosses and turns in the night.
3. Avoid Too Many Pillows And Blankets
According to CafeMom, too many pillows on the bed is a bad idea due to suffocation risk. The same is true for blankets, which can also overheat your child. It's best to avoid any extra "fluff" for your youngest bed-sharers.
4. Keep Stuffed Animals Out Of The Bed
In the same vein as pillows and blankets, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warned that stuffed animals should be kept out of a baby's bed due to risk of suffocation. The AAP recommended you wait until your child is at least 12 months old before letting them sleep with a stuffed toy. After that, I still suggest no toys if you share a family bed — those Beanie Boos do not feel good when wedged under your back at 2 a.m.
5. Eliminate Space Between The Wall And Bed
The guidelines from the AAP also suggested parents keep the bed in center of room or have a safety barrier between wall and bed to avoid entrapment if your child falls As someone who has shared my bed with my kids for the last seven years, this also goes for toddlers and older kids.
6. Avoid If Either Parent Is Under The Influence
According to Kids Health, the risk of SIDS is increased if a parent is under the influence of drugs or alcohol when bed-sharing. This impairment makes parents less aware of the child in bed with them. Additionally, the organization recommended not bed-sharing if the mother is a smoker. Kids tend to sleep closest to mom and on the outside of the bed, not the middle. If mom is a smoker, that third-hand smoke is dangerous to little lungs.