What’s the Best Sleeping Arrangement for Baby?

Dear Dr. Bill,


We have a 6-week old baby at home and I’m wondering what you think about having him sleep in our bed.  Some of my friends say the best place for a baby to sleep is next to his mom.  What do you think?




Dear Tammy,


That’s a great question.  Advocates of the so-called “family bed” believe that having their baby sleep with them gives the child a sense of security and comfort they won’t get in a crib.  They also point out that in other cultures, parents often sleep in the same bed with their children.


Critics of the family bed raise concerns about parents rolling over and crushing or suffocating their baby.  They also point out that the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, may be higher in these situations because adult bedding materials may not be a safe environment for a sleeping newborn.


In fact a study published in the Journal Pediatrics found that the risk of suffocation is 20 times greater when infants are placed in adult beds rather than cribs.


Sleeping with a newborn may also cause the parents sleep to be disrupted because newborns have a different sleep cycle than older children and adults.


As they pass through different sleep phases, babies tend to move around and make all kinds of noises, and sound as if they are waking up.  This may interfere with mom and dad’s sleep, which can affect their mood, their concentration, and their frustration level during the day.


Most child development experts and pediatricians agree that children need to learn to fall asleep in their own crib or bed.  A bassinet placed next to the parents’ bed during the first few months of a baby’s life can be a good compromise.  And snuggling with your child in bed in the morning after everyone is awake can be a wonderful bonding experience.


Thanks for writing Tammy!


I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.