Whilst some may believe co - sleeping to be unsafe, if it ' s done safely there are many benefits. Co - sleeping promotes confidence and self esteem. Children who do not co - sleep are harder to control, less able to deal with stress and are more likely to be dependent upon their parents. Indeed the majority of babies around the world co - sleep with their parents; it is only a western phenomenon in which children sleep on their own in their own rooms. Major medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, agree that babies are safest when they sleep in the same room as their mothers until they are six months old. While the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission strongly recommend co - sleeping on separate surfaces, rather than in the same bed, other experts, in particular Professor James McKenna, director of the University of Notre Dame Mother - Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory, recommend safe bed - sharing as in ideal way to co - sleep. Before baby arrives, make sure your bed and bedroom is safe by following these steps. Think of your bed as a large crib, and follow basic crib safety guidelines. Breast feed. Mothers who nurse their children are intensely aware of their babies as they share sleep. Breastfed infants also instinctively align themselves with mother ' s breasts while sleeping, keeping themselves well away from mother ' s pillow. Use as firm a sleeping surface as possible. It ' s not safe to co - sleep on a water - bed, feather - bed or other overly - soft sleeping surface. Think big. A king size bed is best, so invest the money to upgrade to a firm, king size bed. However, if you co - sleep safely, any bed size will be fine. Make sure your sheets are tight and lay flat on your bed. If your sheets are very loose, you can purchase elastic clip - on ' ' sheet keepers ' ' in the bedding department of most stores. Remove any extra pillows, blankets, decorative throws, pillows and bolsters, and stuffed animals. Keep only what you absolutely need. Stay close. The baby is safest between the mother and a bed rail or the wall.(Mothers usually know where the baby is even in their sleep, while partners and older children don ' t show the same keen awareness.) Mind the gap. The bed should be flush against a guard - rail or the wall. Insert pillows or tightly - rolled blanket if there is a gap. Remember that a guard - rail that is designed to keep a toddler or preschooler from rolling out of bed may not be safe for an infant.(An infant is much smaller, so the guard - rail may pose an entrapment risk.) Place the baby to sleep on their back. No matter where the baby sleeps, he should sleep lying on his back. Lower your bed. When the baby is old enough to get out of the bed, it ' s safest to remove your bed frame and place your box spring and mattress on the floor, in case of falls. Teach your baby how to wiggle out of bed feet first, the same as they would go down stairs. Soften the blow. If your room has hard floors, place soft throw - rugs beside the bed and at the end of the bed, to cushion accidental falls. If you smoke, quit. Studies show that the risk of infant death due to SIDS is highest in infants who co - sleep with smokers. If you do smoke, it is NOT advised to co - sleep with your infant.

Tips

•    If you do not feel safe with the baby in your bed, purchase a co-sleeper such as the ''Arm's Reach Bedside Co-sleeper'' or the ''Amby Bed,'' or put your baby's crib in your bedroom. Both mother and baby can still benefit from co-sleeping in this way. A crib pulled against your bed with one side lowered is NOT a safe option. This poses a risk of entrapment/strangulation. •    Dress the baby in layers, such as long sleeves and a warm sleep sack, and place them on top of the bedding. Check your baby's temperature to avoid overheating your baby. Remember that mothers and infants share body heat while sleeping together, so comfortable dress for the mother will be comfortable for the baby as well. •    When traveling and in unfamiliar sleeping quarters, sleeping bags work very well to keep babies close. Use them unzipped on the floor, however, and make sure that they don't provide any more padding than what you would receive with a firm mattress. Otherwise the risk of suffocation becomes quite high. •    A low budget way to keep your baby from getting trapped in the space between the bed and the wall is to wedge a body pillow into the space tightly so that it only sticks out a small amount and the exposed part is firm to the touch. •    Be sure to child-proof your entire bedroom as soon as the baby starts crawling, so they can get out of bed and be safe while you're still resting. Close bedroom doors or use gates so your baby can't leave the room. •    As the baby gets older, he/she may be able to sleep safely in the middle of the bed, providing your partner or older child can sense their presence and not roll over on them.