Breastsleeping isn't a new phenomenon, but it's gained a lot of popularity lately as parents look to it as a way for both them and their baby to get more sleep at night. But even though it's a very natural thing to do, there are some place it's not safe to breastsleep, no matter how careful you think you're being.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended co-sleeping, but not bed-sharing, and has noted that bed-sharing is the greatest risk factor for sleep related infant deaths. But breastsleeping is still considered a safe option, as long as you follow safe guidelines. Dr. Cecilia Tomori, anthropologist with postdoctoral training in public health, Research Associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and author of Nighttime Breastfeeding: An American Cultural Dilemma tells Romper, that "the context of sleep and its environment is key here." She notes that McKenna and Gettler, the researchers behind breastsleeping, are discussing the arrangement as if it is being practiced "in the absence of all known hazardous factors."
But that doesn't mean anywhere without pillows and blankets is a safe choice. There are nine places where it is not safe to breastsleep, so make note of them if you've decided to adopt the practice.
1. The Couch
Nope. I know it's comfortable to curl around your babe with Netflix on, but it's not a good idea. Tomori says there are just too many unsafe conditions there, including a surface that may not be as firm as a mattress and the chance your baby could become stuck in the crevices or cushions of the sofa.
2. In A Bed Full Of Blankets & Pillows
I mean, a no-brainer right. According to Tomori, most breastsleeping moms develop the same position where they place their babies under their arms with their arms blocking the pillow, baby facing the breast, and their bodies curve around them. But it's still unsafe to have a lot of loose bedding like pillows and blankets in the bed, so clear some space for breastsleeping.
3. A Non-Firm Surface
Maybe you're sleeping on a big soft comforter or created a pallet of blankets on the floor — no matter what, it's not safe. Soft bedding can entrap or cover a baby's head according to Tomori and become a huge risk.
4. A Recliner
Not only is a recliner soft, it's just not safe. According to Kelly Mom, whether they are sleeping with a parent or not, no baby should ever go to sleep on a recliner as there are too many crevices they could become wedged in or they could fall off of it.
5. In Bed With Another Person Who Doesn't Know Baby Is There
Everybody in the bed needs to know that baby is breastsleeping. According to the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at University of Notre Dame, bed-sharing is only safe if both parents agree to the decision and are both aware of the little one. Even though the baby is sleeping alongside you while breastsleeping, your SO should still feel just as responsible for the baby so they can remain alert.
6. On A Pillow
Again, no soft surfaces. I know a lot of parents may use a nursing pillow to make breastfeeding easier, but it's just not safe for breastsleeping.
7. On A Beanbag
Those big, giant, beanbag chairs look incredibly comfortable, but they won't work for breastsleeping. The Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at University of Notre Dame has specifically warned against beanbag mattresses and other soft sleeping surfaces, so make sure to choose a firm bed.
8. On An Air Mattress
Although some air mattresses may be firmer than others, it's still not the best choice for co-sleeping, especially as it can act a bit like a waterbed when moving on one and the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at University of Notre Dame has advised against those.
9. Anywhere If You Are Impaired
Breastsleeping is only safe if the mother is fully aware. "No smoking, no impairing medications, alcohol or other substances that can make the parent impaired," Tomori says. So no matter if your bed is the safest spot in the world, if you've been smoking or if you're impaired in any way, breastsleeping there is no longer safe.