New, comforting sleeping guidelines to protect baby from SIDS

The AAP recommends a form of co-sleeping to protect infants from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. But there are other, material benefits as well.

Courtney Rust | Stocksy United

The American Academy of Pediatrics is on a roll with the recommendations: Last week the AAP updated its stance on screen time for toddlers and babies under age two, and just yesterday they updated their guidelines regarding the ever-worrisome issue of how babies should sleep during that first year.

The statement outlines safe sleep guidelines for infants, saying they “should sleep in the same bedroom as their parents—but on a separate surface, such as a crib or bassinet, and never on a couch, armchair or soft surface—to decrease the risks of sleep-related deaths.” The AAP also states that they should be sharing a room with their parents for at least the first six months and ideally for the entire first year of their lives.

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The AAP, bowing to reality, also offers safety tips for bed-sharing, which over half of all new parents will find themselves doing (bed-sharing is more commonly known as co-sleeping, though co-sleeping also refers to the practice of sharing a room with an infant), so instead of banning any and all bed-sharing, the AAP is taking a moment to remind tired parents how to do it correctly. Rather than sleeping on a couch or chair with baby, where falls and suffocation are much more likely if mom falls asleep during a feeding, they recommend always heading to your bed to snuggle your little one, if there’s any chance you might fall asleep (and let’s be honest, especially during those first few weeks, there’s almost always that chance!).

To further reduce the risk of SIDS, the AAP recommends that your bed has a firm mattress with no pillows, soft bedding, or blankets on the bed or near baby, as these all pose suffocation hazards.

These recommendations make a lot of sense to me, a soon-to-be mother of three that has twice shared my bedroom with a tiny baby for almost a year. For us, we room-shared more out of necessity than choice, as each time I had a new baby we were in a small space or a transition because of my husband’s job, which kept us fairly mobile during those first few years of being a family.

With both kids, I lamented the loss of a nursery: Everywhere I looked I saw adorable cribs, gliders and changing tables at stores and on Pinterest, and I felt like I was missing out on having a perfectly decorated space, designed especially for my baby.

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A lot of new moms feel the pressure to have a beautiful (and often pricey) nursery ready well before their precious bundle arrives, but who knows, maybe these new recommendations will ease some of that burden on families who may not have the space—or the budget—to do so. If the baby will be sleeping with mom and dad for year, what’s the point of the nursery for the first little while anyway?

I’m preparing to room-share with my newest addition (coming this spring), even though we now have the space to have a functioning nursery, because now I’m used to the cozy simplicity of co-sleeping. And although sometimes my master bedroom can feel a little cramped with two adults, two terriers, a baby and all the equipment that goes along with it, those extra snuggles in the middle of the night are absolutely worth it.

Ashley Jonkman
Ashley Jonkman

Ashley is a freelance writer and editor. She lives with her husband, two sons and two rambunctious dogs in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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