When it comes to parenting, there are definitely strong feelings about everything from sleep training, to breastfeeding, baby-wearing, and what type of diapers are the best. Because everyone has an opinion. From my experience, where a baby sleeps, how he falls asleep, and what parents do when a baby awakens at night are all topics you probably don't want to engage in with a casual acquaintance. Because the arguments that come with them have a way of bringing out intense emotions and opinions. Well recently, Hilaria Baldwin opened up about why she stopped co-sleeping with her 11-month-old son. And let's just say it opened up a huge can of worms on Instagram.
On Tuesday, May 14, the mom of four shared a photo of herself and her youngest child, Romeo, 11 months according to E! Online. "I co-sleep with my kids while nursing them. It’s usually about a year. I feel very safe with it because Alec and I are both very light, stationary sleepers," Baldwin wrote on Instagram. "Romeo has begun to move around much more than my other ones while he sleeps. So I’ve decided that, for his safety and our sleep, he is going to learn to stay in his crib over night."
Baldwin went on to share that she's going to miss the cuddles with her little guy at night. She also noted the photo was actually the last time Romeo was in bed with them. "It was tough, and there were definitely tears — both his and mostly mine...but I know that everyone has to grow up," continued. "We will just have to cuddle that much more during the day."
Some Instagram users left kind and supportive comments. One person wrote, "My babies were co-sleepers and nursed. They are now 13 &10 and I miss those sweet moments like crazy. Enjoy every cuddling second! 💚"
Others tried to come up with helpful suggestions so that Baldwin could continue bed-sharing with her youngest. "I bought a long bed rail with netting on it for the edge of my bed since my son likes to toss side to side," another person commented. "It stops him from rolling off the bed. It goes under the mattress and is very secure. Maybe try this and he can still sleep with you."
Others, though, criticized the mom of four for co-sleeping in the first place. "Co sleeping is very dangerous and not recommended," one person commented. "If you choose to do it them that is your prerogative however co sleeping is one of the leading factors for SIDS." To which another Instagram user pointed out, "When practised safely it can actually help reduce the risk of SIDS."
So here's the thing: The topic of bed-sharing is clearly a hot button for parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants be placed on their backs by themselves in a safe sleeping environment— which means a crib or a bassinet with a firm mattress and only a fitted sheet. (No loose blankets, pillows, bumpers, stuffed animas, etc.) This is to prevent accidental suffocation, which makes complete sense. And although the AAP recommends sharing the same room with your baby for at least the first six months (but preferably a year,) it does advise against sharing a sleeping surface with your baby.
Except, as plenty of parents discover firsthand, an infant doesn't always make it plausible to strictly adhere to these guidelines. Breastfed babies in particular, have a tendency to wake up often through the night to feed — resulting in exhausted parents. And an exhausted parent falling asleep while sitting and feeding a baby on a chair or a couch is a dangerous combination too.
Chances are, parents are going to fall asleep with their baby at some point. Which is probably why the AAP says, "bed-sharing is not recommended for any babies," but in the same breath goes on to list situations that make the practice particularly dangerous — as well as ways to make your bed a safer place in the event that bed-sharing inadvertently does happen.
Only bring your baby into your bed to feed or comfort. Place your baby back in his or her own sleep space when you are ready to go to sleep. If there is any possibility that you might fall asleep, make sure there are no pillows, sheets, blankets, or any other items that could cover your baby's face, head, and neck, or overheat your baby. As soon as you wake up, be sure to move the baby to his or her own bed.
The bottom line: No, bed-sharing isn't a recommended practice. But clearly, that doesn't change the fact that plenty of parents continue to do it. At the same, parents like Hilaria Baldwin are clearly making sure to avoid conditions that make bed-sharing more dangerous. Like deciding to stop because their little one has just become too wriggly.
Although it's impossible for all of us to agree about what sleeping arrangement is best for every family, maybe, just maybe, we can agree on this: The Instagram comments section isn't the place to preach to fellow parents about their baby's sleeping arrangements.