I used to think safe bedsharing meant I had to shiver through the night in a 60-degree room without a blanket. I started enjoying my nights a lot more after I learned that it is possible to keep your baby safe and stay warm as you bedshare.
To stay warm while bedsharing, wear a long-sleeved cardigan that buttons up in the front. Keep the lower half of your body toasty with thick pants, socks, and a blanket. Set your thermostat to 68° F, the warmest temperature within the recommended range for safe bedsharing.
Putting together your perfect nightly uniform may take some work up front, but it will be well worth the effort. Once you have it, every night you can go to bed confident that you will be comfortable and your baby will be safe.
How to Keep Your Body Warm From Head to Toe
Don’t count on your hair to keep your neck warm — safe bedsharing requires you to tie long hair back, so it won’t pose a strangulation risk for your baby.
So while your hair is in a low ponytail, bun, or braid, throw on a tight-fitting knit cap or head-wrap to keep your head warm.
Keeping your ears toasty is an added luxury. Let’s move on to something much more important.
What you choose to wear on your torso, to keep your upper-body warm, is the most important component of your nightly uniform.
It needs to be a lot of things at once: for your baby’s safety, it should be thin and cotton. For your comfort, it should be long-sleeved and button all the way up. And most crucially — it should facilitate breastfeeding.
The following tops are popular options for bedsharing moms:
- Long maternity cardigan with nothing underneath
- Regular cardigan worn over a long maternity cami
- Super cropped jumper worn over a regular nursing cami
- Soft chambray or plaid button-up
- Stretchy henley or scoop-neck thermal
- Long-sleeved bolero worn over a nursing cami
The maternity cardigan checks all the boxes. Its length is longer than regular tops, to account for a baby bump. This means your skin will always be covered, even as you move around throughout the night.
It buttons from top to bottom. Sleep with button #2 and button #3 undone, to make breastfeeding easy without letting in too much of a draft. With the top button still fastened, the cardigan will stay securely in place and won’t fall open with gravity.
Safety Tip – Regularly inspect all the buttons on your cardigan to ensure they are still tightly sewn on. A loose button could quickly turn into a choking hazard for your baby.
To be extra safe, remove button #2 and button #3 from your cardigan before you start sleeping in it.
You can be a lot more relaxed about what you wear on the lower half of your body. If you adhere to safe bedsharing guidelines and sleep in the cuddle curl position, your baby’s face won’t be anywhere near your legs or feet.
This means you can go wild with pajama bottoms in your favorite material!
The following bottoms are popular options among bedsharing moms:
- Fleece jammies
- Thick sweatpants
- Flannel pajama pants
- Cashmere joggers (remove the string)
- Wool leggings
- Thermal underwear or long johns
Layer away! In the winter, I love layering cotton leggings and fleece pajama bottoms. So toasty!
Socks are the final component to your nightly uniform, and they are oh-so important. Sleeping with socks on can shorten the amount of time it takes to relax and can increase the quality of your sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, socks cause the blood vessels to open in your feet, which redistributes heat throughout the body.
This gives your brain a clear signal that it’s time to fall asleep!
For all of the Amazon products I link in this post, here’s a handy list!
Add Thumb Holes to Make the Perfect Top Even Better
Whichever type of top you choose, pick one that has sleeves long enough to cover part of your hands. Since you will be keeping your room temperature cool for your baby’s safety (more on that later), you can expect your hands to be cold.
When the external temperature drops below 70° F, a woman’s body shuts off blood flow to her hands to conserve heat.University of Rochester Medical Center
Cut thumb holes in the cuffs of your long sleeves. This will hold the cuffs in place, keeping your hands warm throughout the night. And your fingers will still be free to unzip your baby’s pajamas for his midnight diaper change.
How to cut thumb holes in your long-sleeved top:
- Put on your top and pull its left sleeve down all the way, as far as it’ll comfortably go on your hand
- Use a piece of white chalk or a black Sharpie to draw a thin line on the cuff where you can see your thumb would naturally pop out
- Use sharp scissors to cut a small line over the chalk or Sharpie
- Make the line smaller the necessary — over time, your thumb will stretch the hole until it is the perfect size
- Repeat the same process with your right arm
You Can Use a Blanket — With a Caveat
You should certainly use a warm blanket on the lower half of your body to help keep you warm as you bedshare. But it is imperative that it stays there.
Until your baby reaches certain developmental milestones, such as being able to control his head, neck, and hands with accuracy, he won’t be able to move the blanket out of the way if it accidentally covers his face. This could be fatal.
It’s safer to layer two thin blankets instead of using one plush duvet.
Whatever you choose, the following steps will ensure that your blanket stays in place all night:
- Lie down on your bed in the cuddle curl position
- Position your blanket over the lower half of your body, exactly where you’d want it if you were bedsharing
- Get up, and tuck in the rest of the blanket under the foot of the bed, so that it will only reach up as far as you had it
As an extra safety precaution, consider tucking your blanket in between your knees as you sleep.
Many women place a pillow between their knees to relieve pressure on their hips, as they lie in the cuddle curl position all night. A thick blanket will provide that same comfort, and your knees will ensure that it stays in place and doesn’t accidentally move closer to the baby as you sleep.
And be sure to change your bed sheets with the seasons.
Why Safe Bedsharing Requires a Cool Room
Some bedsharing parents may gripe at all this hassle around clothes and blankets — why not just sleep in your underwear and crank your heater?!
UNICEF recommends keeping the thermostat between 60-68° F (16-20° C) to keep your baby safe as you bedshare.
One of the risk factors for SIDS is overheating, so in order to compensate for your baby lying against your warm body all night, you need to make sure that the room temperature is low.
Set your thermostat at 68° F to stay within the recommended range, but still be as warm as possible.
Even if you tried to create a buffer of a few inches between yourself and your baby, so you wouldn’t have body contact, you would fail!
Your baby will instinctually move closer and closer to your breasts as he sleeps, until he is up against you. He homes in on the smell of your breastmilk, and he doesn’t want to be anywhere else!
Dr. James McKenna, the world’s leading authority on mother-infant cosleeping, coined the term breastsleeping to refer to this integrated system of breastfeeding and bedsharing.
So accept the reality that your baby will be lying against your warm body all night, and lower your thermostat accordingly.
Keep an Eye on Your Temperature Before Bed
Common sense says that it is dangerous to use an electric blanket to stay warm while bedsharing. But what about the hour or two prior to bedsharing?
Although it may be tempting to intentionally increase your body temperature before jumping into bed, prioritize the safety of your baby.
Avoid these things close to bedtime:
- Rice socks
- Hot shower
- Hot foot bath
- Hot tea
- Spicy food
- Hot soup
You won’t be bedsharing forever. This is a short chapter of your life. Do it right.
(And figure out how you’re going to be comfortable while you do it.)
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