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What do I need to safely bedshare with my infant?
The beauty of bedsharing is that very little is actually needed compared to conventional infant sleep arrangements. You don’t need a crib, a sound machine, a baby monitor, or a swaddle. Everyone is different and everyone will make different decisions based on their family’s needs for bedsharing, but for most people, very little is needed!
Before we go any further, please do your own research into bedsharing to determine if it’s right for your family. There is really fascinating research in bedsharing such as:
“The lowest SIDS rates in the world are in countries where bedsharing is traditional, for instance, parts of Asia and South Asia.”
The scary bedsharing and SIDS statistics recorded in the US include all bedsharing/co-sleeping arrangements, including situations where the infant and an adult were sleeping on a couch or chair, or the infant was sleeping with an adult other than mom, and statistics where mom was not sober. This is NOT safe bedsharing!
Bedsharing is the most biologically-appropriate form of sleep for mother and baby, and usually allows parents the most sleep, AND produces a really beautiful bond between mom and baby! But it needs to be done safely!
Before deciding to bedshare, research:
The Safe Sleep 7
And read Safe Infant Sleep by James J McKenna
All that being said, what do you need to safely and comfortably bedshare?
Here are my recommendations:
A firm sleep surface
This can be a firm mattress. But if your mattress is not firm, you can try flipping it over or purchasing a firm mattress pad.
We purchased this firming mattress pad and are very pleased with the results!
Hot tips: We also set our mattress on the floor, (just in case, heaven forbid, our baby ever rolled off, there would not be a far drop) and we have a King mattress, so there is plenty of space for myself, my husband, and our baby.
This is a must-have as babies tend to spit up and have blow-outs. Breastfeeding mothers also leak milk and sweat. Save your mattress, and invest in a good cover!
A nightlight is really nice to have, especially in the early days of breastfeeding. It’s nice to be able to glance at your baby to see if they’re latched or just to check and see if they’re ok. I’d recommend a red light as red light does not signal to your brain to wake up but still allows you to see.
It is not recommended to swaddle infants when bedsharing, but sleep sacks (with their arms free) are recommended. We use these sleep sacks because they have long sleeves, and we love them, but there are many other options.
Optional: A Bedside sleeper
If you really want to bedshare, but it makes you very anxious, you can invest in a bedside sleeper. These bassinettes keep your baby very close and easy to reach, but out of your bed. Our family does not use one, but if I was at all anxious about bedsharing with my infant, I would invest in one.
And that’s it! Again, not much is needed to bedshare. I believe many moms actually end up bedsharing whether they plan to or not. When talking with my own mother, she shared with all of her babies but described it as the norm. They had a crib next to the bed, but the babies ended up in the bed with them as it just made the most sense. When she was raising babies (in the 90’s), there was no messaging around safe sleep. Even today, many moms end up pulling their babies into bed with them and falling asleep, and it’s biologically healthy and normal! Just do it safely.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know if I forgot anything in the comments!
See my other posts on motherhood: