Cosleeping Must-Haves: How to Cosleep Like a Pro

January 2, 2021

I’m Tiffany.
I'm a safe cosleeping educator and mom of two little boys.
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Don’t just cosleep. If you’re going to do it, do it right! Here are some must-have tools that have made cosleeping easier and more delightful for our family.

Pick and choose some of the following items, or just use them as a jumping-off point.

For Your Family Bed

mesh bed rail | blankets | pillows | mattress protector

Here are some of my favorite ways to make your family bed safer and more comfortable. You’re gonna spend a lot of time in this bed, so you’ve got to love it!

Bassinet cosleeper — This bassinet makes it so easy to pull baby in and out of your bed. It’s a great option for parents who aren’t 100% confident about bedsharing. This will keep your baby within arm’s reach, and you two will still reap all of the biological benefits.

Firm mattress — A non-toxic latex mattress is my go-to choice for safe bedsharing. It’s firm, and it won’t warm up underneath your body heat (like memory foam does).

If you’re shopping for a new mattress that’s safe for bedsharing, here’s my top recommendation after 18 months of research.

Mattress protector — Every bedsharing parent needs a mattress protector to defend their family bed from diaper leaks, bacteria, dust mites, and more fun stuff that lives on their mattress.

Corner straps — These fasteners will keep your fitted sheet nice and tight, and help avoid the lethal rebreathing of carbon dioxide.

Nonslip pad — If your mattress is directly on the floor, place a rubber pad underneath to make sure it doesn’t move and create dangerous gaps.

Pro tip: You’ll want to prop up your mattress against a wall every now and then to air it out and prevent mold from growing underneath.

Bed slats — Speaking of a floor bed, placing bed slats underneath will help firm up the mattress while preventing mold from growing underneath. (Here’s another popular option.)

Mesh bed rail — If you bedshare up on a bed frame, you may need to install a bed rail as soon as your infant becomes mobile.

Note: There are always risks with bed rails. First, be aware that your child may climb over it and fall to the ground head first. Secondly, there is a risk of entrapment in the gap between the rail and the mattress. Pack the crack, and never let a child younger than 24 months old sleep near a bed rail unsupervised.

Bed bumper — If you bedshare down on a floor bed, you may want to place a bumper underneath a tight fitted sheet to keep your toddler from rolling off the mattress.

Note: A mesh rail is safer for a toddler than a bed bumper, since air can flow through. A bed bumper is a suffocation risk.

Cotton blanket — To stay warm, layer thin, breathable blankets instead of one heavier blanket. Keep it below your waist, far away from baby. Don’t worry, there are lots of ways you can stay warm all night, even without your cozy duvet!

Consider this blanket or this one if you’re especially worried about your bedding accidentally covering baby’s face. These have little holes throughout and are especially porous!

Split blanket — This is a fun option for couples who want to share a blanket, even though baby is sleeping in the middle of the bed. With this thing, there is absolutely no way the blanket could accidentally cover baby’s face.

Pillows — Invest in a few absolutely fantastic pillows you can use to prop yourself up so baby can sleep safely on your chest or to support your body in the cuddle curl. You’ll thank me later!

For a full list of pillows that help reduce cuddle curl pain, download my free Pillow Guide.

Here are three pillows I’m using on any given night:

  • Molded latex pillow — This firm, non-toxic pillow is molded from a charcoal-infused latex core and holds its shape evenly. It regulates temperature, too, which is always a plus when you’ve got a baby absorbing your body heat.
  • Toddler pillow — Simply remove and replace this thin knee pillow each time you switch sides throughout the night. Bonus: You can give it to your toddler once they’re old enough for their own!
  • Adjustable pillow — We have three of these pillows in our house! We love how you can add or remove filling to create a perfectly-tailored fit. (Here’s a more affordable option.)

For Your Family Bedroom

loungewear | slippers | blankethaakaa milk catcher

Here are some of my favorite ways to safety-proof your family bedroom, once your baby is mobile. You’ll need to make sure it’s completely safety-proofed, in case they wake up before you and start to explore.

Bookcases — Remove bookcases from the bedroom. In the case that you cannot, anchor the bookcase to a wall stud and place the heaviest items on the bottom shelves.

Hard edges — Stick a cushy bumper on any hard edges, in case your child trips and falls on one (e.g. bookcases, side tables, etc.).

Toddler-safe nightlight — If your child is sleeping on a floor bed, you’ll need a nightlight that’s cordless, cool, and/or out of reach. This post links 50+ options!

Red nightlight — Red light helps produce melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel drowsy. Here are two popular options:

  • Tabletop nightlight — Your toddler will love this fun strawberry design that they can turn on all by themself, as part of their nighttime routine.
  • Outlet nightlight — This nightlight turns on/off automatically, as the sun sets and rises. Make sure it’s plugged into an outlet out of your toddler’s reach!

Outlets — Cover all plugs in floor-level outlets with plastic inserts or an outlet cover box. Try to keep cords plugged into outlets that are covered by furniture and are not easily-accessible.

Heat sources — Block access to your heater, radiator, or fireplace.

Nightstands — Anchor the nightstand to a wall stud, adhere foam bumpers to sharp corners, add cabinet locks, and remove anything dangerous from drawers (e.g. cuticle scissors, medication, etc.).

Windows — Lock all windows, and tie up blind cords so they are not dangling.

For Traveling

dress | sandals | suitcase | sunglasses

Can you bedshare while traveling? Yes and no. The following tools will help you bedshare safer on the road, than if you were in your bedroom at home.

But know that a safe bedsharing situation is never guaranteed. In other words, you may be sleeping in a hotel or friend’s bedroom where it’s impossible to set up a safe bedsharing space. In that case, you’ll need to cosleep instead.

Travel bed bumper — This is an inflatable bumper that you can pack in a suitcase or throw in the trunk of the car before a road trip! It could be a lifesaver if you need to put the hotel mattress directly on the floor.

Bunkie board — If you arrive and realize the mattress is too soft for safe bedsharing, you could order a firm board to place underneath to help firm it up. (You could also bring one along with you, just in case, if your vehicle is large enough.)

Travel crib — A travel crib can keep baby safe for naps and the first stretch of the night, when sleep pressure is strong and transferring is easier. Look for a travel crib that unzips, so you can nurse baby to sleep in the side-lying position then sneak out. (Here’s another popular version!)

Thick, cork yoga mat — In a worst-case scenario if you do not have access to a firm mattress, place a yoga mat under the fitted sheet where your baby will be sleeping beside you. A thick, cork mat will stay in place better than the standard yoga mat.

Note: This is not an ideal bedsharing situation, so make sure to sleep in the cuddle curl position so you can monitor baby throughout the night.

For You, Mom!

loungewear | slippers

I’m right here with you, in the trenches. I know what you’re going through. Any given day at home can run the gamut of boring, exhausting, never-ending… And you can feel frumpy, resentful, grateful and weepy.

The cosleeping lifestyle is not for the faint of heart! Here are some ways to make it a little better for yourself. You’ve gotta avoid burning out. Your mental health matters.

Button-up cardigan — If you breastsleep with your baby, try wearing a button-up sweater to stay warm and to facilitate nursing on demand throughout the night. Do you have an old cardigan in your closet? There’s an easy hack to turn it into the perfect bedsharing top!

Here’s a thorough blog post on the nitty-gritty of staying warm while bedsharing.

Adult sleeping bag — Are you jealous of baby’s cozy sleeping bag? Same. Consider purchasing an adult version for yourself. Look for one that’s made from a thin and breathable fabric, to keep baby safe as they sleep up against your body.

Period underwear — Overnight pads weren’t designed for 11 straight hours in the cuddle curl. To avoid an inevitable side-sleeping leak, invest in a few pairs of period underwear. (Trust me on this one.)

How-to books — Boy, there are a lot of books out there for the new parent! Here are two that have increased my confidence as a bedsharing mama:

  • I recommend this book to everyone, every time, as it was written by the world’s leading authority on mother-infant cosleeping.
  • La Leche League International’s foundational book guides the cosleeping family through nighttime and naptime strategies (and so much more).
  • Do you have twins or multiples? This practical book will help you navigate safe cosleeping and/or cobedding arrangements.
  • This phenomenal book shows how cosleeping is one way to help grow you infant’s brain and transform their mental health.
  • Wondering what’s safe to take while breastfeeding? This helpful book covers 1,700 over-the-counter drugs, active ingredients, herbal supplements, dietary products, CBD, medicated skincare, pretty much anything you could be wondering about.

Rocking chair glider For the love of contact naps! Enjoy all the cuddles while you can in a comfy glider. Set up a station with water, snacks, a magazine or book, and a phone charger on the table beside you.

For Your Infant

loungewear | dinosaur stuffie (similar)

Here are some essentials for a baby who spends most of their life in your bed (or on top of your body).

Joeyband — I am convinced that there is no better way to encourage lots of safe, worry-free skin-to-skin time with your baby. Buy one for yourself and for a new mom in your life. It is the perfect baby shower gift.

When you buy your Joeyband, enter COSLEEPY at checkout for a 12% discount on your order!

Overnight diapers — After much trial and error, these disposable overnight diapers worked the best for us. Here’s a thorough blog post on avoiding diaper leaks in the middle of the night.

Summer foot-less sleep sack — You know how when you’re in bed and you realize you’re too hot, all you have to do is stick a foot outside of the blanket and you instantly feel cooler?

A foot-less sleep sack does the same thing for your baby. And how important is this!, as overheating is a risk factor for SIDS.

Winter sleep sack — Look for a breathable, cotton sleep bag to keep baby warm during the cold months. This one has a two-way zipper for easy-breezy diaper changes.

Baby carrier — Keep a baby carrier handy for the times contact naps need to be mobile. Here are two popular options:

  • Wrap baby carrier — This soft wrap is perfect for walking your squishy infant to sleep.
  • Ergonomic baby carrier — Find a carrier that has lumbar support, like this one, for extra back comfort as baby grows.

For Your Toddler

loungewear | slippers | night weaning book

As your baby grows older, and maybe becomes a big sister or brother, you may need some extra tools to help them adjust to the physical space between you.

Night-weaning book — We used this beautiful picture book to gently night-wean our 18-month-old. Read about our experience here.

Daytime weaning book — The time will come. And this gorgeous, soulful picture book will get you both through it. Sob.

Soft photo album — Fill one of these plush albums with photos that will comfort your toddler when you leave them with a caregiver. Keep it on the family bed with your toddler’s favorite stuffie.

For Your Partner

papa bear slippers | mug | crewneck sweater

Vibrating wristwatch — If your partner needs to wake up early for work, a vibrating wristwatch can help them sneak away without waking you or baby!

For Your Dog

dog bed

Baby prep book — As soon as we found out we were expecting, we used this short, practical book to prepare our pup for baby’s arrival.

Dog bed — She’d slept on our bed for the previous five years, and it was not an easy transition to get her off. After going through a few options, we found this plush, cozy dog bed that finally turned things around.

She loves it because it comes with a soft, velvet hood that she can snuggle underneath. It probably reminds her of the good ol’ days up on our bed!

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