Why I Choose to Co-Sleep Despite the Risks


A new study recently found that over half of babies nationwide are put to bed with soft bedding, which leads to an increased risk of suffocation. The study later states that these conditions are also risk factors for SIDS that most parents are unaware of.

My son is in that large percentage of infants mentioned in the study and despite me being well educated on the subject and the risk involved, I’m going to keep doing it.

This is because of all three of my children, Macks is the worst sleeper yet. Last night, he woke me up at 3am screaming in his crib. I tried to let it go for a little bit to see if he would go back to sleep, but unfortunately things just escalated. I went into his room, picked him up, and brought him into bed with me and my husband so that I could nurse him back to sleep.

This has been our routine for the past nine months.

He still hasn’t mastered the skill of sleeping through the night (although his pediatrician reminds me every single visit that he’s fully capable). While he starts the night in his crib, he almost always ends up in bed with us.

It was something that I said I would never do — I know the risks. But it’s becoming even more evident with studies like the one mentioned above that I’m not the only one that does it. According to The New York Times, “the safest place for a baby to sleep is on his back in a crib or bassinet, never an adult bed or sofa. The surface should be firm and covered by only a fitted sheet, no other bedding.” And although that’s the safest, it’s also not completely practical for parents.

According to some background information mentioned in the study, “About 16 babies per 100,000 died from accidental suffocation during sleep and 53 per 100,000 died from SIDS in 2010.” That’s an incredibly small number. I don’t want to minimize the babies’ deaths at all. But I also don’t want to send parents who choose to co-sleep into panic mode, because the truth is that the percentage of risk to their babies is low.

Having a baby in my bed was something that freaked me out. Although I try to keep pillows away and big blankets off of him, it still makes me nervous. But night after night of trying to get him back to sleep with no success, this was the only thing that worked.

With my older two children I could stay up at night with them because I had the option to “sleep when they sleep” the next day. Now with three kids on three different schedules, that is nearly impossible. Going a few days with only a few hours of sleep, I felt like a zombie. I was tired, easily irritable, and wasn’t on top of my “mommy game.”

Having Macks sleep in the bed with us when he won’t sleep through the night on his own is what works for us. Although I am fully aware of the risks involved, the risks are low and the study proves that. Right now there are far more benefits for all of us to have him right next to me when he wakes up in the middle of the night. He nurses himself back to sleep, which means more rest for both of us than we would get trying to rock him back to sleep in his own room.

As a mom, I’m becoming much more aware that sometimes we need to throw the “rules of parenthood” out of the window and listen to our motherly instincts. Ultimately I know what’s best for my children. There are going to be risks with everything that we do in life, but I need to take a step back and see what the benefits are.

Tonight I’ll put Macks to sleep in his crib knowing very well that I’ll most likely get him at the wee hours of the morning to come and sleep with me because right now, that’s what is best for our family — and that’s really all that matters.


Image courtesy of Lauren Jimeson

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