Hidden Dangers of Co-Sleeping with Newborns with Safe Sleeping Tips

Becoming a parent is a thrilling and transformative journey. The tender moments we share with our newborns are priceless, and some of these moments naturally occur during nighttime bonding. However, one practice that may seem harmless but carries hidden dangers is co-sleeping with newborns. We aim to educate the public about these risks and offer safer alternatives to promote the health and wellbeing of both parents and their infants.

Understanding Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping refers to parents and infants sharing the same sleeping space, which could be a bed, a couch, or any other rest area. For many cultures, co-sleeping is a common practice. It promotes bonding, makes breastfeeding more accessible, and allows parents to respond quicker to their baby’s needs. Yet, despite its perceived benefits, co-sleeping with a newborn poses serious risks.

The Dangers of Co-Sleeping

One of the primary dangers associated with co-sleeping is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as crib death. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), co-sleeping is a major risk factor for SIDS, particularly during a child’s first six months of life.

There are various ways that co-sleeping can inadvertently harm a baby. Parents might roll over onto the baby while asleep, pillows or blankets could suffocate the baby, or the baby might get trapped between the bed and the wall. Moreover, if parents are smokers or have consumed alcohol or drugs, the risks associated with co-sleeping increase significantly.

Safe Sleep Guidelines

The AAP has issued clear guidelines on how to create a safe sleep environment for infants:

  1. Babies should sleep on a firm sleep surface covered by a fitted sheet.
  2. The baby’s sleep area should be in the same room as the parents, ideally for the baby’s first year, but at least for the first six months.
  3. Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the baby’s sleep area.
  4. Babies should sleep on their backs until they are old enough to roll over.

These guidelines, known as the ABCs of safe sleep — Alone, on their Back, in a Crib — have been found to significantly reduce the risk of SIDS.

Understanding the dangers of co-sleeping is crucial to ensuring the safety of your newborn. While the urge to keep your baby close at all times is natural, it’s important to remember that safe sleep is paramount. Make your baby’s sleep environment as safe as possible by following the guidelines above. Consider using baby monitors or co-sleepers attached to the side of the bed as safer alternatives to co-sleeping.


Janet Donahoe obituary 1935~2023

A graduate of Wilson College and The Catholic University of America, Janet taught English and Latin in Pennsylvania and was a school librarian in Virginia. 

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