Q: Can two or more of my multiples share a crib?
A: Multiples sharing the same bed is a practice known as co-bedding. Some hospitals may allow multiples, sometimes at the parent’s request, to co-bed babies as soon as the babies are medically stable, but others do not. Co-bedding in the NICU would be an important topic to discuss with your neonatologist to learn more about the benefits and risks of co-bedding and what criteria must be met before babies can share a bed.
Studies have shown that the sleeping practices initiated in the hospital will continue at home, but before parents decide to co-bed their newborns at home, Raising Multiples encourages them to discuss specific safety issues, with their pediatrician. An increased incidence of SIDS in infants who have slept either with another child or with another child and one parent, has been reported, possibly because of over-heating, rolling onto each other, and re-breathing each other’s carbon dioxide.
The use of co-bedding however, makes it more likely that multiples will sleep in their parent’s room for longer, and may develop similar sleep-wake patterns. Due to the fact that there is insufficient research evidence, neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the National Association of Neonatal Nurses recommends co-bedding multiples at home.
Should parents choose to co-bed their multiples at home, infants should remain on their backs for sleep, swaddled or in a sleeper without additional covers, and without artificial barriers between the babies. Consideration should be given to discontinuing co-bedding once the infants move around independently in the crib.