If you're anything like me, preparing to have a second child is a big deal. As you get ready to welcome baby number two, you naturally have a ton of questions about what to expect when they arrive and how things will change for your family. To make this adjustment easier, you might decide to continue breastfeeding your toddler and your new baby (tandem breastfeed), and wonder what, if anything, will have to change about your current breastfeeding and sleeping arrangements. So, can you tandem breastfeed while co-sleeping? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think because, well, this is parenthood we're talking about.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, continuing to breastfeed your toddler once your baby is born can be a great choice for some families. Tandem breastfeeding can help "ease your older child’s adjustment to the new baby," which can be a really hard transition for your toddler. It can also be a way for moms to continue to feel connected and close to their toddler while they simultaneously adjust to being a mom of more than one child.
Sleeping arrangements, however, are another story and may have to change when you add a new baby to the mix. Why? Well, because according to experts, babies and toddlers have different needs when it comes to safe sleep. The AAP recommends all babies sleep in the same room as their parents (what they call co-sleeping), but not in the same bed as their parents (what they call bed-sharing), until a baby turns 1 year old, or longer, if desired.
While bed-sharing with your baby can make nighttime feedings a lot easier, Dr. Rachel Moon, chair of the AAP Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, advises parents to "only bring your baby into your bed to feed or comfort," and then to put them back in their own sleep space as soon as you are finished.
Toddler sleep guidelines are another story entirely, though. Once your child has reached their first birthday, bed-sharing is a matter of personal and family preference. According to a study published in Pediatrics, bed-sharing with your toddler is not dangerous. And if it works for you and your toddler to continue to bed-share after baby arrives, it's totally OK to continue to do so and as long as your baby doesn't join you.
If that sounds like a lot to consider, well, that's because it totally is. As you navigate the challenges of adding a new baby to your family, you will have to make many choices and adjustments along the way. For your family, tandem breastfeeding and safe co-sleeping might just be a way to ensure that everyone gets a good night's sleep.