Essential guide to safe co-sleeping

Is co-sleeping safe for my baby? James McKenna tackles questions like this and offers key pieces of advice to keep co-sleeping as safe as possible for you and your baby.
Essential guide to safe co-sleeping | Kids in the House
KidsInTheHouse the Ultimate Parenting Resource
Kids in the House Tour

Essential guide to safe co-sleeping

Strangely enough safe bed sharing actually begins when the baby is developing. If the mother smokes during her pregnancy for example, that is smoke is - and the chemicals associated – are ingested by the baby’s body and it damages the neural tissues of the baby’s arousal and breathing mechanism, so I would begin by saying that safe bed sharing begins by virtue of prenatal care and the avoidance of smoking. That said, obviously intoxication, alcohol use, insensitivity by drugs would be situations for which bed sharing would definitely not be safe. Moreover, having other children in the bed, because toddlers and children in general just don’t understand that they’re not able to lie on top of their younger sibling. In addition to that, heavy blanketry, duvets are not particularly good for babies, because they tend to flip up over the baby’s head and the mother might not notice it. Really, having a soft mattress would not be good. Look for gaps between the headboard and the mattress and/or the end of the bed and the mattress. Or even adjacent furniture where the baby might roll off and get wedged between the end table and the bed. These are the primary situations or characteristics that tend to make beds and/or bed sharing dangerous.

Is co-sleeping safe for my baby? James McKenna tackles questions like this and offers key pieces of advice to keep co-sleeping as safe as possible for you and your baby.


Expert Bio

More from Expert

James McKenna, PhD

Anthropologist & Author

Professor James J. McKenna is recognized as the world’s leading authority on mother-infant co-sleeping, in relationship to breastfeeding and SIDS. In recognition of his work in 2009 he was admitted as a Fellow into the select body of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's most prestigious scientific society. That same year and in recognition of his extensive work with television, radio, and print media he received from the American Anthropological Association the “2008 Anthropology In The Media Award” one of the top three awards presented to anthropologists by the association in recognition of his distinguished work in educating the public to the importance of anthropological concepts. He received his undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1970, his Master's Degree from San Diego State University in 1972, and his PhD in biological anthropology from the University of Oregon, Eugene, in 1975. Professor McKenna has published over 139 refereed scientific articles in diverse medical and anthropological journals on co-sleeping, breastfeeding, evolutionary medicine and SIDS, and both here and abroad he gives over 20 lectures especially to pediatric groups and parents. Here in the United States he remains one of the primary spokesperson to the media on issues pertaining to sleeping arrangements, nighttime breast-feeding and SIDS prevention. He has also published two monographs on SIDS and infant sleep, and co-edited two books:  Evolutionary Medicine and Evolutionary Medicine And Health: New Perspectives. His first trade book for parents was published in 2008 entitled: Sleeping With Your Baby: A Parents Guide To Co-Sleeping, and was recently translated and available in Spanish and Dutch.

More Parenting Videos from James McKenna, PhD >
Enter your email to
download & subscribe
to our newsletter