Being woken over and over at night and getting up to breastfeed baby can be draining. Many breastfeeding mothers prefer to keep baby close at night. But babies and toddlers should have their own bedspace if you sleep in the same bed.
Your baby also wakes at night to check that you're still there! Baby has not yet come to terms with the big wide world out there and needs lots of physical closeness, caresses and body contact. For young infants, these needs are generally met by breastfeeding sessions.
Sleeping in the same bed
There is much debate about whether sharing a bed with baby – or co-sleeping – is safe. Closeness is important, but there must be no risk of baby getting crushed by its sleeping parents. Many experts now recommend that babies sleep in their own beds until they are at least three months.
If you want your newborn baby by your side at night, make sure she has her own safe bedspace, for example in the cot from her pram or a similar safe enclosure with sides, also known as a bed-in-bed. This is often referred to as safe co-sleeping.
Further reading on reducing the risk of SIDS/cot death.
Here are the factors to consider if you are planning on safe co-sleeping with baby
• Babies must sleep on their backs.
But babies and toddlers should have their own bedspace with edges in a "bed-in-bed" setup.
• Baby should have its own pillow and quilt.
• The mattress must be firm.
• The bed must not get too hot.
• Check that there's no risk of baby's head getting trapped under your pillow or quilt.
• Check that baby can't roll or fall out of her bed, get trapped or squashed.
Parents who are very overweight, ill or medicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol must never co-sleep with an infant. You must never share a waterbed or a narrow couch with a young baby.
What about when baby doesn't need night-feeds anymore?
Some infants are ready to stop feeding at night at around the age of six months. But even when night feeds are no longer needed for baby's nutrition, many children are unwilling to give up their comforting night-time snack.
Further reading: newborn sleep needs or about baby's sleep at 3-6 months.