Co-sleeping?! (*Gasp!*) This is pretty much a bad word in the medical community: No one wants to talk about it, as it is so frowned upon and stigmatized — and not without reason, which I’ll get to. And I know parents often don’t tell me if they are doing this, because they don’t want to get a lecture, which will sound something like this: “In a crib or bassinet on their backs without any soft pillows, blankets or stuffed animals is certainly the safest place for an infant to sleep.”
But let’s be real here for a minute. If you’re a mom, you know that there are times you are so tired, you can barely see straight as you try to feed your baby or change them, and you doze off in the rocker only to startle yourself awake in terror that you might drop the baby or lean over on them.
So some people do make the choice to sleep with their babies (recent stats quote up to 24 percent!), and I want to make sure that if you do choose this path, that you know how to make it as safe as possible.
As I mentioned above, there are certainly risks involved, most importantly, increased risk of SIDS, accidental strangulation and suffocation — about 3,700 babies a year in the U.S. die from sleep-related events.
But here is what I would like to tell my parents who don’t talk to me about this: I am not going to shame you, I am a mom, and I totally get it. If nothing else, when I became a mom 4.5 years ago, my perspectives and attitudes on everything changed, and I sympathize with what you are going through.
So let’s make it as safe as possible.
- Remove all pillows and soft bedding. Ideally the mattress is firm, on the ground, and there is nothing around that can accidentally cover your sleeping baby’s face.
- If you take any sedative medications, smoke, use illicit substances, drink alcohol regularly or prior to bed time you should not share a bed with your infant, as these impair your awareness (this is obvious, hopefully).
- Preemie and underweight babies should not co-sleep, as they are in the highest risk group for SIDS.
- Never co-sleep on couches, recliners, sofas or waterbeds.
- Make sure clothing is lightweight and watch for overheating, as this is a risk of SIDS as well.
So please, don’t be afraid to start the conversation. We are here to talk to you about these things and help you make the safest decisions for you and your baby!
Amanda Magrini, MD, is a board-certified family medicine physician at Northern Nevada Medical Group’s Los Altos location in Sparks. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Nevada, Reno and her medical training at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. Dr. Magrini has practiced family medicine for seven years, including residency, and enjoys her specialty, because she likes taking care of the whole family, from newborns to grandparents. She likes preventative medicine, helping people take care of themselves and the relationships she is able to form with her patients. Dr. Magrini grew up in Sparks, NV and likes that it is a safe place to live with great educational opportunities and beautiful scenery. She thinks Northern Nevada is a great place to raise a family and looks forward to raising her own children here. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, camping, boating, running and traveling the world. Dr. Magrini is also very close with her family; she is married to her high school sweetheart and values spending time with him and the rest of her family. Disclosure: “The author is a licensed physician practicing with Northern Nevada Medical Group, but all opinions expressed are solely the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Northern Nevada Medical Group or any other affiliates of Universal Health Services, Inc.”