Is Co-Sleeping Dangerous?

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

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Show notes:

In This Week’s Episode :

Is Co-Sleeping Dangerous?

You can listen to the full interview by clicking on the link below:
(only available to Members of Sue’s Parenting Club Online)

Sue in Conversation with Jessica Lahey


A Plea to Let Dads Stay Overnight in the Maternity Ward

Sue’s Tuppence Worth

Some hospitals allow dads to stay overnight after their baby’s delivery while others kick them out when visiting hours end. REMINDER: Dad is not a visitor, he’s part of the parenting equation too!

Here’s why hospitals should let dads stay.

Giving birth is complicated.  Women should have the option to decide how they want it to go, including whether their partner is by their side throughout the process and whether that partner gets to sleep in the hospital room with them at night while she recovers.

There’s a big debate happening over this on Twitter sparked by a viral tweet posted by Annie Ridout, that stated, “My local hospital doesn’t allow partners to stay on the postnatal ward after their baby has been born. I think this is outrageous – unfair on the mother; unfair on the father, who’s being made to feel unimportant. He needs to bond too.”

Like Annie, I didn’t have a say in whether or not my husband got to stay. It was not allowed by my hospital.

I remember waking up to change Will’s first nappy in the middle of the night alone in my hospital bed – thinking ‘gosh I hope I get this right!’

I was lucky that after a complication at the end when Will was delivered by a Ventouse delivery, everything was fine, but many, many Mums have difficult sometimes traumatic births and having their partner by their side is important, reassuring and good for the baby, for the Mum, for the Dad and for the family as a whole as they bond.

Everyone has their own wants and needs, especially when it comes to something as personal as childbirth, recovery, and bonding during the first few days of their child’s life. It is frustrating to have what some Mums might want or need not even available as an option because of hospital policy.


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The Parental Journey

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Don’t Stew – Ask Sue Parenting Q & A

Q. Dear Sue, I want to have my baby as near as possible to me during the night but I keep reading horror stories of co-sleeping. What are your thoughts? Belinda Richardson from Bournemouth.

Co-sleeping is a controversial issue: The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) says parents should never let their baby sleep in the bed with them—citing the risk of suffocation, SIDS and other sleep-related deaths. But in 2016, the AAP adjusted its guidelines.

Logistics of Safe Baby Sleep

Some experts caution against putting too much emphasis on where you sleep rather than how.

“Location is not as important as relationships—how parents build attachment and love,” says James McKenna, Ph.D. an anthropologist specialising in infancy and development.

The worst place for a newborn to doze is on a couch, armchair, and other soft, lumpy surface, which can create air pockets that make it difficult for the baby to breathe. This is especially dangerous during late-night feedings when both mum and baby are drowsy.

If you think that there’s even the slightest possibility that you may fall asleep during a feeding, feed your baby on your bed, rather than a sofa or cushioned chair,” said Lori Feldman-Winter, member of the Task Force on SIDS and co-author of the AAP’s 2016 report on safe sleep guidelines for infants.

If you do fall asleep, as soon as you wake up be sure to move your baby to his or her own cot or Moses basket.

The AAP recommends infants sleep on their backs in cots fitted with only a mattress covered with a tightly fitted sheet.

Read my article for the FULL pros and cons of co-sleeping.

Benefits of Co-sleeping

The practical benefits of bed-sharing are obvious. Not only are parents close by to respond to the baby if something goes wrong, but co-sleeping makes it easier for the breastfeeding mum to nurse throughout the night. Then, of course, there is the irresistible beautiful intimacy of it.

Of course, no co-sleeping if you have been drinking, smoking or taking drugs.

There’s a historical precedent for the practice of co-sleeping. In many cultures all over the world, children have shared a bed with their parents for centuries.

Nursing mothers get more sleep this way. Some breastfeeding mums find it easier to have their child nearby for night-time feedings with minimal interruption of sleep for both mum and baby.

It helps children feel safe and secure of course too.

Drawbacks of Co-sleeping

Sharing a family bed almost always, eventually, becomes problematic for a variety of reasons:

Your kids may develop a sleep crutch… always having a parent around at bedtime can become a strong “sleep onset association,” also called a sleep crutch or sleep prop—something your child can’t drift off without. “Children need to learn how to fall asleep without a parent nearby.

As children grow and get older your sleep quality may suffer & your relationship! Children are notoriously restless and active sleepers and can disrupt your sleep by kicking or thrashing around.

A Personal Choice

If you do choose to follow the co-sleeping route, make sure the togetherness you desire addresses your child’s needs and not just your own. If you’re a single parent or your partner is often away from home, for instance, you should not allow your child to sleep with you just to stave off your own loneliness.

Research has shown that children who start co-sleeping at an early age aren’t likely to “grow out” of it once it has become as commonplace as sleeping with a pillow to them.

Check out my article on

Tips for Teaching Your Baby To Comfort Themselves So They Fall Sleep HERE

I hope this helps,


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