The first nights at home with a brand new baby are always memorable, to say the least. Chances are, you won't do much sleeping though, as you adjust to the newness of your newborn. But if you plan to bed-share with your little one, you'll at least be in the comfort of your own bed and, just maybe, you'll both get a little bit more sleep. However, learning how to prepare for your first night of bed-sharing will help make the transition from hospital to home as easy — and safe — as possible.
Although bed-sharing is a hotly debated subject, most parents, advocates, and experts agree that it can be done safely and that most accidents happen when parents ignore the guidelines for safe bed-sharing. With the proper precautions in place, you'll have less to worry about, and more time to get some precious sleep.
These tips aren't necessarily all intuitive, in fact, some of them may be news to you. But whether you think you've created the safest bedroom possible or are just now removing the duvet cover from your bed, it's of the utmost importance that parents prep their bed for bed-sharing just like they would prep the rest of their house for a new baby.
1. Baby-Proof Your Mattress
According to Dr. Sears, you should ensure that your mattress is flush against the wall, with no gaps or crevices the baby could fall into. Installing a mesh guardrail along on side — with the mother on the other — will ensure they don't roll off the bed as well. Furthermore, using a firm mattress with no quilting, is the safest option.
2. Ditch The Extra Blankets And Pillows
Your bed should have tightly fitting sheets, and a lightweight cotton blanket on top. Only use one pillow, and steer clear of fluffy, heavy blankets. If you're worried about warmth, dress in warmer pajamas and put your baby in a warm onesie or swaddle.
3. Quit Smoking And Don't Drink
Secondhand cigarette smoke from either parent is unsafe for bed-sharing, according to the safe co-sleeping guidelines from James McKenna, founder of the Mother Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory.
4. Make Sure Both Parents Are On The Same Page
Furthermore, ideally both parents should be on board with bed-sharing. A supportive environment, where both parents are on the same page is safest.
5. Transition Older Siblings Out Of The Bed
If you have older children who usually share the family bed, transition them out before your new baby joins you. McKenna also recommended that babies under a year should not sleep with anyone besides the parents.