To Cosleep or Not to Cosleep: Infants and Safe Sleep

To Cosleep or Not to Cosleep: Infants and Safe Sleep

Infants and Safe Sleep: To Cosleep or Not to Cosleep

What is cosleeping? It’s any situation in which a committed adult caregiver, usually the mother, sleeps within close enough proximity to the infant so that each can respond to each others signals and cues. Cosleeping can include roomsharing, bedsharing, couch or sofa sharing (the latter being a dangerous practice which should be avoided). When talking about cosleeping, be specific about which form you are talking about. (McKenna, 2008)

Approximately 3,500 infants dye every year in the US from sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Roomsharing and safe bedsharing reduces the chances of an infant dying from SIDS or a sleep accident by half (AAP, 2016). That is huge and shouldn't be taken lightly.

The AAP updated it’s safe sleep recommendations in 2016 to state: "Recommendations call for infants to share their parents' bedroom for at least the first six months and, optimally, for the first year of life, based on the latest evidence.” (AAP, 2016)

AAP recommendations on creating a safe sleep environment include:

  • Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.

  • Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.

  • Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.

  • Avoid baby's exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.

Times to avoid bedsharing:

  • When the caregiver is overly exhausted, inebriated or desensitized by drugs.
  • When there are other toddlers or children in bed with the infant
  • Babies of mothers who smoked during their pregnancy.

Ultimately it comes down to what the parents, or caregivers, are comfortable with. These are guidelines based on history and science, but guidelines none the less.

I for one was happy to see the guidelines change. It makes sense to me from an evolutionary standpoint. What would our caveman ancestors have done? The infants surely wouldn't have been sleeping in the cave next door.

More questions about your infant or cosleeping? Schedule an appointment and let's get the conversation started.


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Safe Sleep Recommendations to Protect Against SIDS, Sleep-Related Infant Deaths. (2016, October 24). Retrieved from
  2. McKenna Ph.D., J. J. (2008, December 21). Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone | Neuroanthropology. Retrieved from


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