The Complete Guide to Co-Sleeping

Hey there, mama! One of the MANY controversial parenting topics is co-sleeping. Some parents swear by it and others avoid it like the plague. I made this guide to give you an overview of co-sleeping, how to make sure it’s safe, and the many benefits of co-sleeping.

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What is Co-Sleeping?

First off, let’s look at what is meant by “co-sleeping.” Co-sleeping, simply put, is defined as sleeping in close proximity to your baby. This can mean sharing the same bed, having a bedside bassinet attached to your bed, or even having your baby sleep in a crib or bassinet in the same room as you.

Basically, it’s a way to keep your baby close and comforted during the night, which can be especially helpful in those early months when they need a lot of attention and care.

Co-sleeping had been around since the beginning of time. Many cultures practice it today and don’t think twice about it. However, here in the Western world, we really like independence which is one of the reasons why co-sleeping isn’t as widely practiced.

3 Types of Co-Sleeping Arrangements

When it comes to co-sleeping, there are different arrangements you can choose from depending on what works best for your family. The most common types of co-sleeping arrangements are bed-sharing, sidecar co-sleeping, and room-sharing.

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Bed-sharing means that you and your baby share the same bed. Some families love bed-sharing because it can create a strong sense of closeness and make it easy to comfort and feed your baby during the night.

However, it’s important to follow safe sleep guidelines to minimize the risk of accidents, such as using a firm mattress, keeping blankets and pillows away from your baby, and avoiding bed-sharing if you or your partner smoke, use drugs, or have consumed alcohol.

When I first started bed-sharing with my baby, I was completely overwhelmed. I knew I wanted to do it, but I didn’t know what it actually looked like. Where does the baby sleep? Where do I sleep? What do I need? After doing some research and trial-and-error, I finally figured out what worked for us.

baby sleeping in Baby Lounger
This is the baby lounger we used (and LOVED)!

Because I was still anxious about having my baby right next to me in bed, I used a baby lounger, specifically this one. This is a great product because it takes some of the stress off and provides a comfortable place for your baby to sleep, all while being in the same bed as you.

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Sidecar co-sleeping is when you attach a small crib or bassinet (like this one) to the side of your bed, so your baby is close by but has their own separate sleep space.

This can be a good option if you want to have your baby close but don’t feel comfortable bed-sharing. It’s also a great choice if you’re breastfeeding, since you can easily reach over to comfort and feed your baby during the night.

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Room-sharing means that your baby sleeps in a crib or bassinet in the same room as you. This can be a good compromise if you want your baby close by but prefer to have a separate sleep space.

It can also be a good option if you have limited space or if you want to gradually transition your baby to their own room.

Ultimately, the type of co-sleeping arrangement that works best for your family will depend on your individual needs and preferences. As a mom who has co-slept, I highly recommend giving it a try.

The Benefits of Co-Sleeping

1. Promotes Bonding

First and foremost, co-sleeping promotes a strong bond between you and your baby. When your baby sleeps near you, they’ll be comforted by your presence and won’t feel as lonely during the night. This leads to better sleep for both of you and a strong bond that will last for years to come.

2. Easier Breastfeeding

For breastfeeding mamas, co-sleeping can make it easier to feed your baby throughout the night without having to get out of bed. This will give you more rest while allowing your baby to nurse on demand which can help with your milk supply.

3. More Sleep

Co-sleeping, specifically bed-sharing, can help synchronize the sleep cycles of both the mama and baby. This means that you and your baby are more likely to sleep at the same time and wake up together, which can promote better sleep overall. CRAZY, right?

4. Stress Reduction

When you co-sleep, it can reduce your stress levels and help you feel more relaxed. Your baby will also be calmed by your presence and be more relaxed, leading to better sleep overall.

Think about it: When your baby is born, they know that without mama, I’m a goner. If they can’t feel, touch, smell, taste, or hear you, their natural instincts tell them they are in big trouble. Co-sleeping allows your baby to feel safe and secure.

5. Stabilizes Body Temperature

When babies are first born, they cannot independently regulate their body temperature. Co-sleeping allows the mama to stay close to the baby which helps the baby to stay at a more stable temperature.

6. Regulates Breathing

According to a study published in 2020, co-sleeping (specifically bed-sharing) resulted in a reduced risk of breathing difficulties for the baby. This could be because the baby is able to pick up on their mother’s breathing cues and regulate their own.

How to Safely Co-Sleep

While co-sleeping can be a great way to bond with your baby and get some rest, there are certain safety precautions that you should take if you decide to do it.

1. Prepare a Hazard-Free Area:

Make sure that your bed is free of any pillows, blankets, or other items that could pose a suffocation hazard to your baby. It’s also important to make sure that your bed is on a firm and stable surface, and that you don’t have any pets in bed with you.

2. Do NOT Smoke, Drink, or Take Drugs:

If you smoke, drink alcohol, or take drugs, it is not safe for you to co-sleep with your baby. These substances can impair your awareness and judgment, making it difficult for you to monitor your baby’s safety.

3. Never Put Your Baby on Soft Surfaces:

When co-sleeping, it is important to make sure that your baby does not sleep on any soft surfaces. This includes couches, waterbeds, bean bags, and other similar items. Soft surfaces can increase the risk of suffocation and should be avoided at all costs.

4. Do NOT Use Sleeping Medications:

It’s never a good idea to use sleeping medications while co-sleeping. These medications can impair your judgment and make it difficult for you to be aware of the baby sleeping next to you.

5. No Gaps:

Ensure that the sleeping surface is free of gaps and that the baby cannot become trapped or wedged.

How to Prepare Your Sleep Environment for Co-Sleeping

If you’re planning to co-sleep with your baby, especially if you are bed-sharing, it’s important to create a safe and comfortable sleep environment for both you and your sweet baby. Here are some tips that might help!


First things first, let’s talk about the mattress. When it comes to co-sleeping, you want to make sure your mattress is firm and flat. This will reduce the risk of suffocation and provide a safer sleeping surface for your baby.

So, if you’re using an older, softer mattress, it might be time to invest in a new one.


In terms of bedding, keep it simple. Avoid using any pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals in the sleeping area.


Okay, but how do you stay warm/comfortable with no blankets or pillows? Well, it’s important to make sure you dress appropriately for the temperature of your bedroom.


Put on some cozy socks, flannel pajama pants (doesn’t have to be flannel, just something warm and comfortable), and a long-sleeved shirt. Make sure the shirt is nursing friendly! mentions a maternity cardigan that would be great for keeping warm and safe while co-sleeping.

Also, make sure to pull your hair back if you have longer hair, and avoid wearing clothes with long strings.


Do NOT swaddle your baby if you are bed-sharing. Instead, think layers. A onesie (make sure it’s easy to navigate for nightly diaper changes) underneath a nightgown or footy pajamas should be good!

I personally dressed my baby in a onesie underneath a nightgown. The gown made diaper changes so much easier than having to unzip and zip or (gulp) unbutton and button.

Remember, your close proximity also helps with regulating the baby’s temperature.

How to Know if Your Baby is Too Warm or Cold

According to Kind Donkey, you can discern your baby’s temperature by touching the back of their neck. The neck should be warm but not hot/sweaty.

If it feels hot and slightly damp, then your baby may be too warm. If the neck feels cool, then your baby may be too cold.

Okay mama, I think I’ve covered just about everything. If I left anything out, please comment below!

Do you co-sleep? If so, what has your experience been like?

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