Meepycat, Do you (or did you) do something to make sure your little ones didn't take a substantial fall? I know my OP sounds judgy. I'm sorry. I don't actually think that the only way to co-sleep safely is to have your mattress on the floor. But I do feel frustrated when I see that babies have fallen out. It may be that mattress plus boxspring on carpet w padding under is a safe comfortable option, or railings (I've always felt skeptical of railings not bc they wouldn't be safe for kids but bc I couldn't see having to climb over them), or those pillowy bumper-type things. Maybe there is something cushy that could be put around the edges of the bed. BUT I just can't wrap my head around leaving ones baby in a bed and then being shocked when they fall out and then question whether or no "co-sleeping" is safe. It is only safe if you do it safely.
Rubidoux, it's *absolutely* unsurprising when babies fall out of beds, and I agree not necessarily a judgment on co-sleeping when it happens. I do, however, understand the parental response that is, basically "no effin' way we're doing *that* again."
Our co-sleeping was always pretty ad libbed. DH is an incredibly restless sleeper, and we were agreed that it was never, ever, safe for him to be alone in a bed with the baby - someone always needed to be between him and the kid. I often wound up with the babe in the spare bedroom. The bed was up against the wall, and I'd put myself between the baby and the open edge of the bed. This is only a good safety measure if the child is never alone in the bed ever. The sleeping arrangement we actually planned was the baby in the pack 'n play in the same room as us - if you ask the formal pediatrician's organization, they *adore* this sleeping arrangement for newborns, but it's lacking in benefits for exhausted parents - you can't nurse without getting up, for example. Every time I brought the baby into bed with me, I thought it was "just for tonight", and I wound up doing it every night for months.
IMO, one reason why co-sleeping gets the rep for being dangerous is NOT because of parents who plan it. It's because of, to be honest, parents like me, who take it up as an ad-libbed solution to a frequent waking infant, and consequently don't have the setup. These parents make up the vast majority of co-sleepers.
I get really frustrated with just about every post in the world that involves the question "why don't people just?" It's not that it's judgmental, it's that it seems to me to lack imagination. In this case, consider that roughly 30% of mothers of newborn in the United States are recovering from abdominal surgery, and that abdominal surgery is FAR from the only issue that might lead people to want their beds off the floor at least a little bit.