Dr Mark Rosenthal

MD MB ChB FRCP FRCPCH BSc

Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8832

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

A:The Royal Brompton Hospital, London, SW3 6NP

Why Shouldn’t Young Children Sleep with their Parents?

Co-sleeping or sharing a bed with your baby can be a controversial topic among new parents. It is important to be aware of both sides of the argument, but ultimately the right choice will depend on what suits you and your baby best.

Children Sliiping with Parents

The Case Against Co-Sleeping

The main concern that people have about allowing babies or young children to share their bed is safety. If you got into the wrong position while you were asleep then you could hurt your baby. If your pillow or duvet moved over the baby then it could make them overheat or affect their breathing.

However, if you or your partners are very heavy sleepers or more tired than usual, you’ve been drinking or taking medication that makes you drowsy, then it is best to avoid co-sleeping. You might be less aware of your baby’s presence. It’s also best to avoid co-sleeping if your baby was born prematurely or had a low birth weight. You should also keep pets and older children out of the bed.

Another potential issue is that you will want your child to move to his or her own bed at some point. If they aren’t used to sleeping alone at all, it can be harder to make this transition.

The Case for Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping is very common. Most parents will share a bed with their baby at some point and it is still the normal choice for parents in many parts of the world. In the natural world, mammals usually sleep with their babies too, especially while they are still breastfeeding. Sleeping together is the most natural thing to do. As long as you’re not sleeping too deeply, your body will usually remain aware that your baby is there.

At the very least, babies need to be in the same room as their parents for the first six months. Babies need attention throughout the night during these early months and they are unable to regulate their own temperature properly, so it is important for them to be near you.

Should You Let Your Child Sleep in Your Bed?

Co-sleeping is very common and the risks are very low, so if this is the best way for you and your baby to get a good night’s sleep then it is generally fine to share a bed. However, you should avoid co-sleeping if there is a higher risk due to your lifestyle or sleep habits.

You should also ensure that you’re following the same rules that you would if your baby was sleeping alone. For example, babies should always sleep on their backs and there shouldn’t be any pillows, blankets or other coverings that could get in their way.

If you’re concerned about co-sleeping then you might want to invest in shaped cushions or a co-sleeping pod that will prevent you from rolling over and keep your baby safely on the bed. You can also buy cots or cribs with open sides that enable you to sleep next to each other without being in the same bed.