This is a question that comes up often, and part of my job as a certified sleep consultant is to educate families around the world about all things sleep, including safety. For a long time, co-sleeping has been an important discussion in the world of safe sleep. In order to help you make an educated decision, here’s what you need to know:
At what age is co-sleeping ok?
The risk of death while co-sleeping is at is highest between the ages of 0 – 12 months old. After 12 months, your baby will be stronger, will be able to roll over on their own, and have enough mortality to move away from an uncomfortable and dangerous position. However, adult mattresses, pillows, and blankets will still pose a risk of suffocation until your child is old enough to sleep on a toddler bed, at around three years old.
Are there benefits to co-sleeping?
Lots of families resort to co-sleeping because it makes breastfeeding at night easier, it reduces the number of times caregivers have to get up to care for the baby, and for lots of babies, this is the only way they’ll sleep. Many studies have shown that choosing not to co-sleep doesn’t affect mother-infant attachment, including this study from 2021. The thing is bed-sharing increases the risk of SIDS by a threefold. The risks far outweigh the benefits.
How do you safely co-sleep?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is, there is no way to make it safer. On your Google search for a co-sleeping journey, you will likely read about the Safe Sleep Seven. Breastfeeding organizations have promoted these guidelines, claiming they make co-sleeping safe. There is no evidence that the Safe Sleep Seven work, so proceed with caution.
Co-sleeping is a personal choice. If you are aware of the risks, but you have chosen to co-sleep because it works for you and for your family, and everyone is happy, I respect your decision. As your sleep coach, my take on bed-sharing is that the risks are immense, compared to the benefits. Want to build a bond with your baby? There are a million ways to do that. Is co-sleeping the only way everyone at home gets some sleep? There are safer ways to teach your little ones to sleep.
If you are ready to stop co-sleeping and teach your baby independent sleep skills, our sleep training consultants are here for you. We have helped hundreds of families in your situation successfully transition their little ones to their own sleep spaces.