All the researchers who are pro co-sleeping are of the same opinion that guidelines need to be followed and that parents need to be educated to ensure their child's safety. These guidelines include:
- Always placing the baby on its back to sleep;
- The baby should always sleep next to the mother, not in-between the mother and father;
- Precautions should be taken to stop the child rolling out of the bed;
- A parent should not share a bed with an infant if the parent is under the influence of alcohol, drugs or sleep-inducing tablets, or if the parents are sleep-deprived;
- Don't allow babysitters or older siblings to sleep with the baby;
- Don't fall asleep with the baby on a couch, beanbag chair or waterbed;
- Don't let the baby sleep unattended on an adult bed;
- Don't overly bundle the baby as they get additional warmth from the mother's body and overheating can cause problems;
- Mothers with long hair should tie it up to prevent it tangling around the baby's neck.
The four prime hazards of co-sleeping include:
- Suffocation caused by an adult rolling on top of or next to the baby;
- Suffocation when an infant gets trapped or wedged between a mattress or headboard, nightstand or wall;
- Suffocation resulting from a baby being face down on a waterbed, regular mattress or on soft bedding such as pillows, blankets or sofas;
- Strangulation in a headboard or foot board that allows part of the baby's body to pass through the area while trapping its head.
When it's time to stop co-sleeping
According to Kidshealth.org, many medical experts agree that it's important to speak to your doctor when you feel it's time to move your baby out of your bed and into its own crib.
This should be done when the baby is about six months old - i.e. before the co-sleeping pattern becomes a habit and other issues, such as separation anxiety, come into play.