Read this. Why? Because a tired mom can fall asleep during a feeding, whether she plans to co-sleep or not! I didn't plan to co-sleep, but when it's 2:00 a.m. with a hungry baby and sleep-deprived mama, sometimes you find yourself breaking your own rules. We could have had some serious disasters, since I didn't learn these tips until Peter was almost 6 months old:
1) If you're going to feed your baby in bed, ever (even for a daytime nap), get rid of your fluffy comforter. You wouldn't have one in the crib, would you?
2) If you're going to feed your baby in bed, ever, don't let anyone else sleep next to the baby. One stray hand from your husband or another child is all it takes to block an infant's airway. As Dr. Sears points out in Nighttime Parenting, there is no evidence of mothers suffocating their infants (unless they're under chemical influence), but other people don't have that sharp maternal instinct.
3) Do not let a baby in your bed if you have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs. "Well, duh," you say, "I wouldn't take drugs, anyway." But how about cold medicine? That's a no-no-no-no-no if you ever feed your baby in bed.
4) Unless your bed is just a mattress on the floor (which is a great idea, by the way), get a guardrail for your side of the bed. Pull it up any time your baby comes into bed. Yes, even if your baby is a crib sleeper, if you ever feed the baby in bed, get this! Isn't $20 worth some piece of mind?
5) Don't bring the baby into a bed that's not firm. Are waterbeds still around? I don't know, but the new rage is pillow-top mattresses. Not a good idea, folks.
6) Don't share covers with the baby. It's too easy for these to slip over his head. Keep your baby swaddled or in a sleep sac on top of your own covers. And keep those covers around your waist! (Not fun in the winter months. I had to sleep in long sleeves.)
Am I being overly cautious? You'll see these tips in other places. All of them are based on really horrific things that have happened to many babies whose mothers had good intentions.
I wish that I had known these rules before my son was born. I didn't read up on safe co-sleeping, since I planned for my kid to sleep on his own. All I ever heard was that the safest place for the baby was a crib, based on studies which I have sinced learned were funded by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (the JPMA, the group to which 95% of crib makers in the US belong).
Under the right conditions, sleeping with your baby can be safer than having him sleep in a crib. I plan to do it with my future children. But, again, under the right conditions. Learn them. Follow them.