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We share sleep with our ten-month-old. She has just started crawling and climbing. How can we make our bed safe for her?
Welcome to the world of nighttime juggling. Every parent and child need to work out a sleeping arrangement that gives all family members the best night's sleep, and this may change at different stages of development. It's common for infants to practice their newly-found motor skills, such as crawling, at night. This nighttime nuisance can be exhausting for parents and deprive baby of much- needed sleep. The key to nighttime parenting is developing a sleeping arrangement that keeps you and baby within close nursing and nurturing distance, yet helps all of you sleep longer stretches. A custom that has worked in our family is what we call the side-car arrangement. You can get a crib, called a bedside co-sleeper , that safely and snugly attaches to your bed. This gives baby her own space and you your own space, yet you're still reasonably close to one another. Other ways to keep the bed safe for your infant are: avoid placing the crib near dangling strings (from curtains or blinds); use a crib approved by the Consumer Products Safety Commission; avoid crib pillows or soft, stuffed animals that could obstruct baby's breathing; avoid dust-collecting fuzzy toys in your baby's crib, especially if your infant is prone to respiratory allergies; and, of course, no smoking in the bedroom, please. Once your infant gets used to her own sleeping space in the co-sleeper, you could gradually ease her away from your bed using the traditional two-railed crib.