Sharing a bed with a new baby

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mother holding new born baby
mother holding new born baby
Ariel Skelley/ Getty images

BABIES naturally fall into a day-time and night-time routine. Keeping baby close at night and meeting their needs in a quiet and dim environment can help them learn to rest more at night. Babies also rest more soundly when they feel secure. Paediatricians recommend that infants be placed on their backs for sleep, as this is the safest position for them to sleep and decreases their chances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

BENEFITS OF CO-SLEEPING 

Co-sleeping helps babies practise rousing themselves: Co-sleeping babies learn to use their self-preservation instinct to rouse when there’s any danger such as being overheated, being too cold or something blocking their airway. Meet baby’s needs without getting up: Most babies need to be fed, soothed and changed at night. “If baby is close by, mom can do all of these things while in bed and remaining in a restful state. Getting out of bed to change nappies, feed and soothe baby back to sleep requires being fully awake and alert,” says Lynne Bluff, a nurse, midwife and childbirth educator.

Experience less night-time crying:  Knowing mom is close will likely help baby sleep better. Moms that co-sleep with their babies are able to notice earlier signs of hunger and needing to be changed. They can wake up during these early signs and meet the baby’s needs before they begin to cry.

Co-sleeping helps with bonding:  A secure attachment between baby and caregiver is an emotional bond that leaves baby feeling secure and cared for. This secure attachment, fostered infancy, translates to a child feeling secure and knowing their caregiver will always return to meet their needs.

Co-sleeping helps with maintaining an adequate milk supply: Feeding on demand helps moms maintain an adequate milk supply. “Babies are designed to eat frequently at night and cosleeping helps to make it easier for mom and baby to meet this need,” says Nthabiseng Leso, senior brand manager at Huggies POME.

Co-sleeping can mean better rest for mom: Studies show that new moms do not experience a better quality of sleep if their babies sleep in the nursery at night. Co-sleeping may not guarantee more sound sleep for every mom, but many sleep better knowing baby is safe and close by.

SAFETY WHEN SLEEPING WITH BABY 

¦ Do not take alcohol, drugs or any medications that can have a sedative effect.

¦ If you are a smoker, baby should have a separate sleep surface such as a bassinet.

¦ If baby is bottle fed and not breastfed, they should sleep on a separate sleep surface alongside moms bed.

¦ Do not wear clothing with strings and long hair must be tied up.

¦ Keep soft pillows and blankets away from baby.

¦ Keep babys room when sleeping at temperature of between 16 and 20°C.

HOW TO PREVENT SIDS

SIDS is when a baby of 12 months old or younger dies during sleep with no warning signs or a clear reason. Lynne gives steps to help prevent SIDS:

¦ Use a firm bed and let baby sleep on their back.

¦ Remove soft toys or bedding.

¦ Keep your baby from overheating.

¦ Dont smoke around your baby.

¦ Breastfeed for as long as possible.

¦ Immunise your baby.

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