One way to nurture a healthy attachment with your baby is to sleep within at least an arms reach of your baby. There are different ways to do this:

  • Mother nursing baby in bedThe baby sleeps next to you on the same mattress in your bed (called bed-sharing), or
  • The baby sleeps next to you on a separate mattress either attached safely to your adult bed, in a bedside co-sleeper, or in a bassinet or crib placed beside your bed (called co-sleeping).

When done correctly and safely, both bed-sharing and co-sleeping are healthy and protective options that are backed by science.

Benefits of Sleeping Within Arms Reach of Your Baby:
  • Parent can easily protect and monitor baby throughout the entire night;
  • Parent gets more sleep;
  • Breastfeeding is easier;
  • Babies sleep and grow better;
  • Reduces the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome;
  • Increases your chances of having a successful breastfeeding relationship;
  • Helps your baby feel that their world is a safe place because you can easily comfort them while they sleep and when they wake.
  • Promotes better bonding; and
  • Babies grow up with a healthy sleep attitude.
Guidelines for Safe Bed-Sharing:
  • Place baby to sleep on their back.
  • Be sure there are no crevices/space between the mattress and guardrail or headboard that allows baby’s head to sink into.
  • Do not allow anyone but the experienced bed-sharing parent to sleep next to the baby, since only they have that protective awareness of baby. Place baby between the experienced bed-sharing parent and a guardrail, not between the parents, or next to an older child. The non-experienced bed-sharing parent should sleep on the other side of experienced bed-sharing parent, not next to the baby.
  • Don’t fall asleep with baby on a cushy surface, such as a beanbag, couch, or wavy waterbed.
  • Don’t bed-share if you smoke or are under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medications that affect your sleep.

Adapted from Dr. Sears