Bed-sharing is a type of co-sleeping where an infant shares a sleeping surface with a parent, usually a breastfeeding mother. There are several guidelines to reducing the risk involved with bed-sharing, such as making sure that the bed does not have excessive bedding and that the infant is placed next to the breastfeeding mother as opposed to between two parents. Additionally, bed-sharing should be done on a safe mattress. For example, water beds are not considered safe for bed-sharing because of the risk of the child rolling in the bed or suffocating.
If you are considering bed-sharing with your newborn, you should check to make sure your mattress is safe for bed-sharing. Below are some features to consider.
The Mattress Should Be Firm
Bed-sharing mattresses should be firm. This serves two purposes. First, a firm mattress will not allow your baby's face to sink into the mattress if, for some reason, they end up on their stomach. This can prevent accidental suffocation. Additionally, a firm mattress will prevent your baby from rolling toward you when you are in bed. With a soft mattress, when you lay in bed, you will create a small valley, and that will cause your infant to roll toward you and will put them at greater risk for suffocation.
When looking for a firm mattress, you should avoid features like a pillow-top mattress. If you are planning to use your current mattress, look for any dips or divots, which may indicate that you need a new mattress for safe bed-sharing.
The Mattress Should Be Comfortable
Even though your mattress should be firm, it is still important that you and your significant other find it comfortable. A comfortable mattress will reduce the amount that you and your partner are tossing and turning throughout the night, and that can help keep your baby safe.
The Mattress Should Be Hypoallergenic
You should make sure the mattress you are planning to use does not have a buildup of allergens such as cigarette smoke, pet dander, or dust, which can make it more difficult for your child to regulate their breathing. If you have a buildup of one of these, you should consider a professional cleaning or purchase a new mattress before bed-sharing.
The Mattress Should Fit Your Bed Frame Well
When your mattress is in the frame, there should not be any gaps between your mattress and the headboard or the footboard. Small babies can get stuck in small gaps, so it is important to purchase the correct size of mattress for your frame. Many parents recommend putting your bed against the wall to prevent your baby from falling off the bed. However, if you do this, you may still want to use a protective bed rail between your bed and the wall to make sure your baby does not get stuck in any gaps between the bed and the wall or check to make sure that your bed sits flush against the wall.
The Mattress Should Be Large Enough for All of Its Occupants
If you plan to bed-share with your infant and your partner, it is important that there is enough room in the bed for everyone without feeling cramped. If you currently have a queen-sized mattress, you may want to consider investing in a king-sized mattress to accommodate the extra person and additional movement that will be happening in your bed.
If you are considering bed-sharing, it is important to assess your current mattress to make sure it is safe. If it is not, then you should consider buying a new mattress so you can practice safer bed-sharing.