The decision to co-sleep, bed-share, or put the baby in his or her bed is a hot topic among parents and parents-to-be. My husband and I fall firmly into one court: Our baby will co-sleep in a bassinet in our room until he or she is big enough to safely sleep in a crib.
My biggest reason for deciding not to bed-share with my baby is safety. Two of the recommendations for preventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) are (1) putting baby on a firm sleeping surface free from blankets, pillows, and other soft objects and (2) not putting the baby to sleep in an adult bed. Additionally, a third recommendation for preventing SIDS is to put baby to sleep in the same room as mom and dad.
Therefore, to keep our baby safe, my husband and I are following the above recommendations. As a newborn, Poppy will sleep in a bassinet in our bedroom. The only thing in the bassinet will be a firm bassinet mattress and a tight-fitting sheet. We also have a Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper that we could use if Poppy needs to sleep at more of an upright angle. Finally, we also put a The First Years Close and Secure Baby Sleeper on our registry so that I could safely lay down next to our baby on our bed and take a nap during the day. In all three sleeping scenarios, however, Poppy will be in his or her own bed but in our room.
However, I absolutely will not bed-share with my baby. In her post on bed-sharing, Joanie Christine talks about her experience with letting her babies sleep in her bed with her. As a mother-to-be who plans on breastfeeding, I understand the ease of bed-sharing with my baby. Regardless, I would rather have to get up multiple times during the night to attend to my baby than unnecessarily put my child at risk. I may lay in bed to nurse my baby, but I will ultimately put Poppy back to sleep in his or her own sleeping area.
I know that some parents will tell me that I may change my mind once the baby comes. I will not. Bed-sharing is simply not safe. I will protect my baby from harm as best I can by co-sleeping but not bed-sharing. My little one will be near enough to me to be safe but not so close that his or her risk of death increases. Co-sleeping is the best decision for Poppy and me!
Update: Despite my insistence on not sharing a bed with my children, I ended up bed-sharing with both my babies. With my firstborn, I tried putting her to sleep in her own bed for the first few days of her life. After about a week, my husband and I gave up, and my daughter slept with me for the first two and a half years of her life. With my second-born, I tried getting him to sleep in his bed occasionally, but, again, he ended up sharing my bed. My need for sleep ultimately won over my initial desire to co-sleep but not bed-share with my babies. I am at peace with my decision to bed-share.
The changing concept of sudden infant death syndrome: Diagnostic coding shifts, controversies regarding the sleeping environment, and new variables to consider in reducing risk: http://sids-network.org/revisedsids.pdf
Reducing the risk for SIDS: http://sids-network.org/risk.htm
Napping in the Crib: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stickwithjosh/5393123078/