Multiples and crib-sharing

Can multiples share a crib in their early months? This question sometimes confuses new parents, and the official recommendations actually clash with common practices.

The official recommendation on crib-sharing

Because twins and multiples are often born prematurely and at a lower birth weight, they’re at a higher risk of SIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics officially recommends that parents separate multiples in order to decrease the risk of SIDS or accidental suffocation.

The realities of co-bedding

Despite the official recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics, studies show that many parents still co-bed their multiples in their early months of life. One study on the subject shows that 65% of twins share a crib at 4 weeks, but this figure decreases to 42% by 13 weeks.

Many parents choose to co-bed their multiples because they feel their babies prefer to sleep this way, and that it reinforces their connection by replicating the feeling of closeness that they shared before they were born.

So although the AAP is officially against it, it’s clear that many parents of twins use co-bedding. The AAP is the gold standard as far as recommendations for children go, but it’s definitely a smart idea to ask the pediatrician or family doctor what he or she thinks about crib-sharing.

The safer way to co-bed

If you do decide to have your children share a crib, it’s very important to remember some basic safety guidelines for putting babies to sleep in the same crib. Here are some things that will make co-bedding safer for multiples.

  • Always lay the babies down on their backs when putting them to bed.
  • In their early weeks of life, parents may put the babies side by side. But as the babies age, parents should change their positioning to feet to feet to increase the babies’ safety. Putting the babies feet to feet reduces their danger if one or both start to move around.
  • Triplets should only be laid on their backs, side by side, with their feet touching the side of the crib; in other words, lying perpendicular to the sides of the crib.
  • Parents should never use a soft object to separate their multiples in a crib. There are firm crib dividers parents can buy that fasten to attach to the crib and safely keep babies apart.

Crib-sharing is a relatively controversial topic among parents of newborns, because despite the official recommendations against it, many parents decide to crib-share their multiples. You won’t be alone if you do decide to crib-share your babies. However, if you do decide to crib-share, it’s important to follow the guidelines above so that your newborns can sleep safely.

  • “Twins and sleep.” NHS Choices. May 6, 2016. Web.
  • Damato, Elizabeth G. et al. “Sleeping Arrangements in Families with Twins.” U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. September 1, 2012. Web.
  • “SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Expansion of Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment.” AAP News & Journals. American Academy of Pediatrics. November 2011. Web.
  • Hutchinson, B.L. et al. “The prevalence of cobedding and SIDS-related child care practices in twins.” U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. December 2010. Web. 
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