Where Is the Safest Place for a Baby to Sleep?

In October, moms.today.com reported on a survey of grandparents on safe practices with babies.

English: A sleeping male baby with his arm ext...

A sleeping baby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They flunked.

So, I got in touch with Dr. Amanda Soong, who conceived of and conducted the survey to find out what happened.

Dr. Soong is a pediatrician, professor of pediatrics, and mother of two young children.

It was her conversations with her own Mom that prompted her to conduct this survey.

Forty-nine grandparents, in three grandparenting support groups, answered her 15-question survey.

And, then, they talked about the answers.

It turns out, grandparents didn’t flunk every question.

This was the only question that 100% of the grandparents got right.

This is the one time when parents should listen to grandparents, not the other way around, because some parents don’t know this.

Where is the safest place for a baby to sleep?

The choices were:

  • Adult bed
  • Sofa, with an adult
  • Chair, with an adult
  • In a crib

The answer is: in a crib.

Since co-sleeping is quite popular now, why isn’t that ok?

After all, if you are breast-feeding a baby, it’s a lot easier to go back to sleep while the baby is nursing than to get up and put the baby in its crib.

But, for the safety of the infant, a baby can be brought to bed to eat or be comforted, but then should be returned to its own bed.

When my children were young, that is how my husband and I split responsibilities.

He got up and brought the baby to me.

I fed him or nursed him (one was formula-fed; one breast-fed).

And, my husband took him back to bed while I went back to sleep.

It wasn’t 100 percent. Sometimes he just needed his sleep to get up for work in the morning.

But, it was often enough that I got some much-needed sleep in-between feedings.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing, but not bed-sharing.

That is, a crib or bassinet should be in the parents’ room, but the baby should be sleeping in its bed, not the parent’s bed.


The risk of SIDS when the baby is in its own bed is half what it is when sharing a bed with a parent.

They also found an infant shouldn’t be in a separate room when it is under four months old.

SIDS deaths peak between one and four months.

Ninety-percent of SIDS deaths occur before the age of six months and are rare after eight months.

I talked to one young mother not long ago who was celebrating the fact that her infant was approaching the six-month mark, knowing that the risk of SIDS would soon be behind her.

What about the other choices?

Co-sleeping with an infant on a sofa was found, in one two-year study of English infants to increase the risk of SIDS significantly.

The danger of suffocation is too great.

The baby can get wedged between sofa cushions.

All soft surfaces – sofas, armchairs, waterbeds – were found to be dangerous when an adult was sleeping with an infant.

In addition, when there are several people in the bed, especially people who are not a parent, like brothers and sisters, bed-sharing is risky for the infant.

Parents who smoked or drank, were extremely tired, had a duvet, and kept the baby in their bed increased the risk to infants under four months.

Taking the baby to bed for nursing then putting it back in its own bed had no risk associated with it

So, though there are obviously parents who are pleading how tired they are and how easy it is just to keep the baby in bed with them, or further, that co-sleeping increases the bond between mother and infant, this is one time when Grandma is right.

The baby needs to be in its own bed.

Click here for an Audio interview with Dr. Soong, Q2 on this question, Where is the safest place for a baby to sleep?

Answer: In a crib.

Did you keep your babies in bed with you on a regular basis?

Did your children decide that co-sleeping was better?

Did you ever have a waterbed?

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To you and watching your grandbabies wake up.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers


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