Your fellow cosleeping parents will probably tell you that the safest way to bedshare is to place your mattress directly on the floor. But what if there are good reasons why you can’t do that? You can absolutely still keep your baby safe while bedsharing, even if you choose to keep your mattress up on its bed frame.
Keep your baby safe on a high bed frame by moving your bed into the corner of the room. Surround them with those two walls, a bed rail, and your body in the protective cuddle curl position. As a back-up safety measure, teach your baby to get off the bed going feet-first as soon as they are mobile.
Bedsharing is so stigmatized in the West, many parents are looking for reasons not to do it. One excuse is that they can’t keep their baby safe on their tall bed. Even if you want to keep your mattress high off the ground on your beautiful bed frame, there is a safe way to do it. You can begin by purchasing a bed rail.
Hold up! Are your eyes too tired to read this article? You’ll get the gist from this YouTube video I made you. Hit play and rest those eyes for a few!
Buy A Bed Rail For The Foot Of The Bed As Soon As You Decide To Bedshare
Let’s begin by addressing the elephant in the room.
Most bed rail companies come with a warning — do not use unless your child is a certain age. (Probably one or two.)
Even though I’m a rule-follower, I believe that every cosleeping family should buy a bed rail as soon as they decide to bedshare.
But I’m making a major assumption.
I’m assuming that you’re following all the safe bedsharing guidelines.
That means you’re in that cuddle curl position, and you’re breastfeeding on and off during the night. Your baby is going to be right there at your breast when they’re nursing, and any other time they will be right beside you on their back. They’ll go from nursing, to back. Nursing, back, nursing, back all night long.
To become more confident (and comfortable) sleeping in this protective position, read How to: Stay Comfy in the Cuddle Curl.
If you are bedsharing in this manner, you should not have to worry about your baby wandering off and getting in trouble with the bed rail.
Besides, bed rail companies have those warnings in place for parents who do not cosleep.
There have been cases in which a parent installs a bed rail on a toddler bed — usually in a separate bedroom. And the baby or toddler rolls over and gets trapped between the mattress and the bed rail.
That is a horrific situation.
But that is not what you, dear reader, are doing. I’m assuming that you are always sleeping beside your baby. They are never in their own toddler bed with a bed rail.
As soon as you install your new bed rail, make sure to pack the cracks.
This means you stuff a rolled up blanket, sheet, or towel in any gap between the bottom of the bed rail and your mattress. Even a small gap is an entrapment risk.
Place Your Bed In The Corner Of Your Room To Utilize Two Walls
Most master bedrooms in the West feature a big bed in the center of the room, flanked by side tables. If you get a lump in your throat just thinking about putting your beautiful bed frame, box spring, side tables, and lamps in the basement for the foreseeable future, take heart.
You can keep most of your furniture and still safely bedshare — you just have to rearrange it.
Push your bed into the corner of the room. This way you can take advantage of the two walls that make up that corner.
Your baby won’t be able to scoot up and fall off the head of the bed or roll over and fall off the side. And they will be protected by the bed rail on their side of the bed.
Safety Tip – If there is a gap between your mattress and the wall, roll up thin blankets, sheets, or towels and stuff them inside. Again: any gap that could trap a baby could prove fatal.
In this case, you can keep all of your furniture except for one side table and lamp.
Since you’ll now have more space on the other side of the room, you could set up a reading nook, comfy armchair in front of a TV, or nursing station.
Protect Your Baby From Any Window Against The Bed
Avoid putting your bed against a window, if at all possible. If you don’t have a choice, tie up or remove anything that dangles or tangles, such as strings for your blinds.
We’re currently living in a cozy two bedroom home that was built in the 1950s, when master bedrooms weren’t yet a thing. Both of our bedrooms are identical in size, and they both have windows near every usable corner.
We chose the back bedroom as our “master” and pushed our bed into one corner. A window sits at the head of the mattress. If we had a bed frame with a headboard, it would protect baby from the window. But we have to work with what we’ve got — a simple platform bed without a headboard.
(For a visual, scroll up and click on the video I linked at the beginning of this article. I shot it sitting on our bed!)
If you cannot avoid a window, either, you could —
- Line the window with rolled up blankets, sheets, or towels
- Prop up a heavy pillow, couch cushion, or maternity pillow over the window (only if you can ensure it won’t fall on baby during the night)
- Place your own body in front of the window
In our case, that’s what I do: I lie in the cuddle curl position in front of the window. If Archie starts to scoot up towards the window, he hits my arm and I wake up. And there is no way he could climb over me and fall off that side of the bed without me waking up and stopping him.
The cuddle curl is often uncomfortable, but it is incredibly effective in protecting your baby from all sorts of dangers, like falling off a tall bed.
I wrote my guide How to: Stay Comfy in the Cuddle Curl for this exact reason. More comfort means more hours in this position, which means more protection for baby.
Teach Your Baby To Get Off The Bed Feet First
If you follow the first two steps and place your bed in the corner of the room and install a bed rail on the foot of the bed, your baby will be boxed-in.
They will be protected from falling off the bed by that wall, this wall, the bed rail, and your body!
But once your baby becomes mobile, it’s important that you teach them how to get off of the bed feet-first, just in case.
I’m talking about when your baby is incredibly young, like five months. As soon as they start to roll and realize they have the ability to move their body.
Start modeling it for them.
Even though they’re young, they’re watching you. So when you get off the bed in the morning, don’t just scoop them up, hop off the bed, and make a beeline for the coffee maker.
Get on all fours, inch backwards, and get off feet first.
And when your baby is old enough, you can guide their body backwards and help them onto the floor.
I know that this sounds like a lot of work. You’re tired; this is the last thing you want to be doing first thing in the morning. But in our case, it worked for both our babies.
My toddler, Luca, gets off the couch feet first. And when he naps alone in our bedroom, I don’t have to worry. I don’t have a video monitor on him or anything. I know that when he wakes up, he’ll get off the bed feet-first, safely get down to the ground, open the door and say something like, “Mom, I’m awake! Make me a snack!”
Even though this is simple, common sense stuff, I don’t think every exhausted new parent thinks about it. They just say to themselves, Well if I’m not gonna put my mattress directly on the floor, I don’t feel like that’s safe. So I guess I can’t bedshare.
I’m here to tell you that if you want to bedshare up on your glorious cedar bed frame, you can figure out a way to do it safely!
It just takes some creativity and a commitment to the safety guidelines.
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