Siblings Cosleeping and Bed Sharing {Part 1: Safety and Advantages}

by Mrs. BWF on December 6, 2012

We are huge fans of safe cosleeping here! It’s been done since the beginning of time and is normal and natural in most cultures.

“When my grandma was little she & her siblings & children that passed thru their home use to sleep in dresser drawers, hope chests & under their parents bed. That sounds scary & unsafe to most people, but in England during the war it was the safest place for children to sleep. It’s all about perspective! You can paint a scary picture about co sleeping when really it could be the safest spot, just like people advocate that cribs are safest yet can’t explain why babies pass in their sleep there too.” ~Janeen

Here are more pictures of BWF families enjoying safe cosleeping!

“I just had to share the sweetness I found in my bed this morning after getting ready for work.  Love watching my children’s sibling bond grow right before my eyes!” ~Jennifer C.

“My darling kids :) I handmade my co-sleeping baby bed to keep us from rolling onto him.” ~Jennifer O.

“We snapped these a couple of years ago, and let me say that this co-sleeping was supervised. We have a very “free” home when it comes to sleeping, as we live in a subtropical climate and it is warm most of the year. Our children don’t go to bed with pajams on a regular basis, mainly winter time, and they could sleep anywhere in the house, lounge, or each others bedrooms (ours too).”

There are great guidlines to follow to ensure safe cosleeping and bedsharing. Elizabeth Pantley has a great outline (as does Dr. Sears). Here are a few and to see more visit her website:

Your bed must be absolutely safe for your baby. The best choice is to place the mattress on the floor, making sure there are no crevices that your baby can become wedged in. Make certain your mattress is flat, firm, and smooth. Do not allow your baby to sleep on a soft surface such as a waterbed, sofa, pillowtop mattress, beanbag chair, or any other flexible and yielding structure.

Make certain that your fitted sheets stay secure and cannot be pulled loose.

If your bed is raised off the floor, use mesh guardrails to prevent baby from rolling off the bed, and be especially careful that there is no space between the mattress and headboard or footboard. If your bed is placed against a wall or against other furniture, check every night to be sure there is no space between the mattress and wall or furniture where baby could become stuck.

An infant should be placed between his mother and the wall or guardrail. Fathers, siblings, grandparents, and babysitters don’t have the same instinctual awareness of a baby’s location as do mothers. Mothers: Pay attention to your own sensitivity to baby. Your little one should be able to awaken you with a minimum of movement or noise — often even a sniff or snort is usually enough. If you find that you sleep so deeply that you only wake when your baby lets out a loud cry, seriously consider moving baby out of your bed, perhaps into a cradle or crib near your bedside.

Consider a “sidecar” arrangement in which baby’s crib or cradle sits directly beside the main bed.

Do not ever sleep with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol, if you have used any drugs or medications, if you are an especially sound sleeper, or if you are suffering from sleep deprivation and find it difficult to wake.

Do not sleep with your baby if you are a large person, as a parent’s excess weight poses a proven risk to baby in a co-sleeping situation. I cannot give you a specific weight-to-baby ratio; simply examine how you and baby settle in next to each other. If baby rolls towards you, if there is a large dip in the mattress, or if you suspect any other dangerous situations, play it safe and move baby to a bedside crib or cradle.

Remove all pillows and blankets during the early months. Use extreme caution when adding pillows or blankets as your baby gets older. Dress baby and yourselves warmly for sleep. (A tip for breastfeeding moms: wear an old turtleneck or t-shirt, cut up the middle to the neckline, as an undershirt for extra warmth.) Keep in mind that body heat will add warmth during the night. Make sure your baby doesn’t become overheated.

Do not wear nightclothes with strings or long ribbons. Don’t wear jewelry to bed, and if your hair is long, pin it up.

Never leave your baby alone in an adult bed unless that bed is perfectly safe for your baby, such as a firm mattress on the floor in a childproof room, and when you are nearby or listening in on baby with a reliable baby monitor.

“Co-sleeping doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. While I LOVE all the pictures posted about co-sleeping, I just wanted to say that you don’t have to sleep with your 3 year old, or several kids at once, to be a co-sleeping family. We happily sleep with our babies until they are around a year, then we spend a month or two gently transitioning them out of our bed and into their own. We are co-sleeping with baby #3 and it has been the biggest blessing. I can’t wait to get into bed and night to snuggle up with baby! We both sleep an awesome 9 hours or more together. Just wanted the mommies who are skeptic of co-sleep because they value their bed space and adult time to know that you can talior co-sleeping to fit your lifestyle. It’s all about what works best for YOUR family. Here is hubby co-sleeping with baby #3 when she is 2 weeks old.” ~Danielle

“Here’s a photo of my two gorgeous bubs (Samyel 16months old & Sean 5weeks old) – cosleeping while having their afternoon snooze together (with Mummy next to them). Love my gorgeous boys so much!!!”

“This is my 2 year and my 6 month old (3 months old at the time of photo).” ~Aleesha B.

Sleeping like a diva! Sent in by Elizabeth.

“These are my boys Avery and Gram! They are 17 months apart.” ~Jamie

What are some advantages of cosleeping and bed sharing? Here are some huge benefits as laid out by Dr. McKenna’s research (Notre Dame):

The baby will know that you are there, and can respond emotionally and physiologically in potentially beneficial ways.

Babies will breastfeed more often with less disruption to mothers sleep, and will receive more sleep as will the mother compared with solitary sleeping breast feeding babies – as recent studies show.

Babies arouse more frequently, but for shorter average durations than if the baby slept apart.

Babies cry significantly less in the cosleeping environment which means that more energy (at least theoretically) can be put into growth, maintenance and protective immune responses.

More breast feeding, which accompanies cosleeping, also can be translated into less disease and morbidly. Proximity of the infant potentially permits the parents to respond to changes in the baby’s status, such as if it were choking or struggling to breathe and, of course, proximity makes it more likely that if a baby was fighting to rid itself of blankets over it’s head, the parent might here the event and intercede.

Mothers who feel guilty of not having enough time to be with their babies during the day can feel better about nurturing and, hence, being in interaction with their baby during the night, and hence, further nurturing their relationships, as can Dad.

Given the right family culture, cosleeping can make mother, dad and baby feel very good, indeed.

“This is when Lex was days old, it’s nap time so he slept in the rocky. She crawled into bed with him and got behind him and wrapped her arms around him and fell asleep. My favorite! My babies at nap time. I was across the room sewing.” ~Kate


“My newborn and 19mo sleeping sweetly.” ~Nichola

Part 2 coming soon…TWINS Cosleeping!

For great support, ideas and info on sleep help with your children, check out The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley!


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