Why won't my baby sleep in her cot?

Top four tips for co-sleeping with your baby

By Alexandra Smith

Young babies should sleep in an adult's room. 
Research shows that having a baby sleep in an adult's bed can increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), which terrifies mothers in to persisting with Moses baskets and cots. However, if your baby keeps you awake all night crying because they won't settle alone in their cot, you may end up falling asleep with your baby in a dangerous position while you're exhausted. This will also substantially increase the risk of cot death so it's difficult to know what to do. The tips below are not intended to persuade you to choose co-sleeping (as it is not advised) but they may help you do it as safely as possible if you decide to let your baby sleep in a bed with you.

1) Do not smoke. Do not get drunk. Do not take drugs. These rules apply to all the people sleeping in the bed. Sober people are more aware of their movements while they're asleep so you're less likely to roll on top of your baby if you stay away from drugs and alcohol. Children are also less aware of what's around them when they're asleep so they should not sleep next to a baby. Apparently, even when they're not smoking, smokers breathe out toxic fumes which may hinder a baby's breathing. It is also bad to sleep next to a baby when you are on medication which makes you drowsy.

2) Ensure bedding is clean. This creates a lot of washing because babies are often sick small amounts of milk. It may also be wise to use a waterproof washable sheet to ensure your mattress is dirt free. This is because cot death has been linked to dirty mattresses and bedding. For the same reason, remove toys, comforters and muslin cloths from near a baby while they are sleeping. This is also necessary because the baby could become entangled or be suffocated by them.

Exactly where I want to be!
3) It is thought that cot death can be caused by a baby being too hot or too cold. Excess body heat can be expelled from a baby's head and their tummy so current guidance states that they should sleep on their back and not wear a hat. Keep the bedroom temperature at around 19 degrees Celsius and free from drafts. In very hot weather you may wish to remove all your baby's clothes (except their nappy). 

4) Babies cannot breathe under a duvet cover or pillow and they are too young to know how to free themselves so you should ensure your baby is positioned sensibly. You can sleep further down the bed than your baby by turning your pillow sideways (with the opening of the pillow case at the head of the bed where your baby can't get trapped in it). This way, baby will not have a pillow and if the top of the duvet is below your face then it will be well below your baby's mouth and nose. Obviously, babies can wriggle down a bed which is why it is actually advised that you sleep your baby at the bottom of a cot and use cellular blankets (these have small holes in them). The photos show ways a baby could co-sleep. A cot bed lined up to your adult bed can be handy to prevent your baby falling out of bed but this also means the baby can get out of the cot too so be wary if you choose to do this. Any unavoidable gaps between the mattresses, the wall, the head of the bed or the edge of the cot should be filled with clean rolled-up sheets so the baby does not get their head trapped and suffocate.

Note: It is not advisable to co-sleep with a baby who was born prematurely. Never fall asleep with your baby on a sofa. For advice on avoiding SIDS (including reasons why you should not co-sleep with your baby), visit: FSID. 

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Have you got any advice for exhausted parents trying to get their baby or child to sleep in their own cot or bed? We'd love to hear it!

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© This article and its photo(s) are the property of Alexandra Smith. Only use or reproduce with permission.

Disclaimer: These tips are created from lessons I have learnt during my own experience.  With regard to the content and advice on this blog, Alexandra Smith makes no representations or warranties about its accuracy, reliability or suitability for anyone. Any reliance you place on the blog or its content is at your own discretion and in no event will Alexandra be liable for any loss, damage or injury in connection with your use.

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