Sleeping near each other is fine, but there's a big difference between sharing slumber space with your little one and sharing a bed. Co-sleeping, which is the term used for parents sleeping within arm's reach of their children, is healthy, safe and encouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for infants, especially during the first year of life. Co-sleepers maintain their own individual sleeping spaces by using extensions that connect to the bed or a nearby cradle or bassinet. Sleeping in such close quarters makes for easier, less disturbing feedings; strengthens bonding and allows babies to fall asleep more easily.
Conversely, bed sharing occurs when parents sleep in the same bed with their baby. It may seem like a small difference, but because adult beds aren't built with infant safety in mind, bed sharing has been proven to increase the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Soft mattresses, pillows, blankets, loose headboards and an easier ability for the baby to transition from sleeping on his back to a prone position have all been shown to pose an increased risk for SIDS, and the AAP lists bed sharing as a significant hazard for slumbering babes.