Is It Safe to Sleep With Your Baby?

If you're a new parent, you know that feeling of exhaustion.

With a new baby at home, you have to get used to feeding every couple of hours and working sleep into the equation.

Some parents say it's just easier to let the baby sleep in bed with them.

But, just how safe is that?

When three-month-old Jack was born, Angelika Taylor says it hit her, just like it did with her girls, that love.

"I'm having that "new mommy syndrome" where I can't peel away from him yet," said Taylor.

At night, Jack, who is breastfeeding, sleeps right next to his parents, but in his own bed, designed to ease his acid reflux.

"If he's hungry, I can get to him right away, there is no lag time walking between rooms, we're half dead asleep anyways," said Taylor.

And sleeping with your baby close, but in a separate bed, is the safest way to go, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"That may work some of the time, but it's not going to work all of the time," said Dr. James McKenna, with the University of Notre Dame.

McKenna, who's been studying bed-sharing for 30 years, says 50-60 percent of breastfeeding moms fall asleep with their babies.

In one Los Angeles survey, 70 percent of new parents - at some point - were having their babies in bed with them, said McKenna.

Hard-hitting campaigns, like one launched by the Milwaukee Health Department, warn parents not to bed-share because of the risk of accidental suffocation or strangulation.

But, McKenna says, parents do it because it's a way to bond, and get more sleep.

"The critical factor is how to do it," said McKenna.

McKenna says keep your bed as simple as possible, place your baby on its back and keep other children out of the bed.

"A substantial number of suffocations don't involve the parent suffocating the baby, but other children that come in during the night and lay over the baby," said McKenna.

McKenna believes bed-sharing is safer for breastfeeding mothers and their babies because research shows they sleep lighter and awaken more easily, within 1 to 2 seconds of each other.

But he doesn't recommend it for bottle-feeding mothers and babies because he says they sleep more heavily, and may not be as in-sync with each other.

If you smoke, have been drinking or taking drugs, never bed-share.

And if you're not sure? Follow Angelika's lead: sleep close, but not together.


For more stories go to

Follow us on
Like us at