Parents of newborns are instantly introduced to the world of swaddling. At the hospital, soon after your baby is born, nurses hand you a perfect little baby burrito, swaddled to perfection. There are a ton of benefits to swaddling, but when you come home from the hospital and put your baby to sleep in your bed, you may wonder, should you swaddle if you're bed-sharing? Is it putting your baby's safety at risk?
Romper spoke with Christine Stevens, a Certified Sleep Coach and author of 7 Tips to Help Your Child Get the Sleep They Need, who works with children and adults, helping them get their much needed sleep. She notes that when it comes to bed-sharing, there are safety issues to keep in mind. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (APA), bed-sharing remains the greatest risk factor for sleep related infant deaths, Stevens notes. The APA guidelines suggest that babies sleep on a separate firm surface close to the parent's bed, at least until they turn 1, which is when their risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) decreases considerably.
Stevens recommends that parents use a bassinet, co-sleeper, or portable crib as a safer alternative, which is still convenient. "Babies get their own separate sleeping space, but can still be within arm's reach," she adds.
So what about swaddling when bed-sharing? "Babies can be swaddled," Stevens notes, "if they are sleeping in a separate sleeping space, such as a bassinet, co-sleeper, or portable crib." She suggests that swaddling is a great tool for parents to use when their baby is under 12 weeks of age, but if the baby starts to roll, keeps pulling their arms out of the swaddle, or just seems to hate swaddling, then it's time to stop.
Many parents still choose to share a bed with their babies. As a breastfeeding mom, I often would fall asleep with my daughter at my breast, and I never had any issues. But according to Kelly Mom, you shouldn't swaddle your baby when bed-sharing, because it could cause your baby to overheat and will not allow the baby to move around to alert you if you are too close.
If you are bed sharing, remember to make your bed safe for co-sleeping. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, this includes assessing your sleep habits, keeping the baby away from pillows, and always putting baby to sleep on her back and away from the edge of the bed.
When it comes to putting your little one to sleep, the ultimate decision is yours, but just remember to take all safety measures into account.