All About Babies

Are You Among the 46 Percent of Parents Who Lie About This?

A poll reveals a surprising number of parents lie about co-sleeping with their kids.

mom and baby cosleeping Shutterstock
My son is 10, and he still wakes up about three or four times a week at 4 a.m.and comes into our room to sleep. I don't lie about the fact that he does this—but I don't go around advertising it, either.

I'm in good company, apparently: A poll of 600 UK parents found that 46 percent of them shared a bed with their newborn but don't admit it. Most likely they lie because they're scared of being judged, according to parenting expert Sarah Ockwell-Smith, author of the book Why Your Baby's Sleep Matters.

"Many people won't even tell their friends or family," she said. "It's a taboo."

It's important to note that health experts advise against co-sleeping for infants. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies sleep in the same room as their parents but do not share a bed, as bed sharing remains the greatest risk factor for SIDS sleep-related infant deaths. And sleep safety charities like The Lullaby Trust work tirelessly to spread awareness of this fact.

Still, Ockwell-Smith says if parents insist on co-sleeping, they should be informed about how to do it correctly.

"I'm just really worried that by telling people not to do it, they're putting more babies at risk," she told The Daily Mail. "Surely it makes more sense for parents to know how to do it correctly."

Here's what you need know:

  • For starters, while you might think it makes sense to put your baby in the middle of the bed so he doesn't fall out, Ockwell-Smith says this increases the risk of being rolled on. Place your baby beside you, on the outside of the bed instead, separate from dad or any other siblings. Additionally, it's important to prevent baby from rolling off the bed, so place baby between mom and a guardrail, or make sure the mattress is flush against the wall with no gaps or crevices that baby could fall into.
  • Make sure your baby is on his or her back.
  • Keep all pillows and duvets far away from the baby.
  • Long hair should be put up or pulled back, and there shouldn't be any strings or laces dangling from whatever it is you wear to sleep

DON'T ever bedshare, experts advise, if:

  • you're a smoker
  • you've been drinking alcohol or or taking medication that makes you drowsy
  • you're very obese
  • you're very tired

Get more information on safe co-sleeping.

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and a mom. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and follow her on Twitter at @holleewoodworld.