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When feeding, rocking, patting, singing and reading fail, here are some other ways people get their babies to sleep, from most to least drastic. Just be forewarned that these are short-term solutions: Do them every night, and your baby will get so used to the association, he’ll never go to sleep otherwise.
The most important aspect of sleeping with your baby is making it safe. “First and foremost, make sure that no one is a smoker, that there are no other children in the bed and that neither parent has used drugs or alcohol or is excessively tired,” says James McKenna, Ph.D., director of the Mother/Baby Sleep Lab at Notre Dame University in Indiana.
Other dangers include: gaps between the bed and the wall or a piece of furniture where the baby can become lodged; gaps between the mattress and headboard or footboard; blankets, pillows and comforters near the baby; and sleeping on other surfaces, such as a couch or waterbed. “The safest way to sleep with your baby is to take the mattress off its frame and put it in the middle of the floor,” McKenna says.
An option for parents who want the baby in the bed with them but are afraid of rolling over onto him when they’re asleep is to use the Deluxe Snuggle Nest, an “island” with raised edges that goes in the middle of the bed. A co-sleeper that attaches to your bed is another good option. If you opt for a bassinet, keep it as close to your bed as possible, McKenna advises, as being close to his mother regulates the baby’s heart rate, immune system and stress levels and makes breastfeeding easier.
“Proximity to his mother also keeps the baby in lighter phases of sleep so he can practice arousing and going back to sleep, which is good in case of any problems such as sleep apnea,” McKenna says. Some experts believe it also might help prevent SIDS.