From sharing a bed to simply sleeping in the same room as the child. It’s a widely discussed topic, some mothers and experts swear by it while others criticize it. The truth is that there is not enough scientific data available just yet to clearly state the long term pros and cons of this method. The decision, like in many other areas of parenting is in your hands. It depends on what works best for you and your family. If you are considering giving it a try. We have collected some information about co-sleeping to help you make the decision.
- Bed sharing means that the baby sleeps in the same bed as the parents.
- Sleeping in a co-sleeping bassinet which is a bassinet that you can attach to the side of your bed. But they are technically not sharing the bed’s surface with you and your partner.
- Room sharing means that you are sleeping in the same room as your child but not sharing the bed.
Before rushing into co-sleeping however there are some serious safety issues that need to be addressed. Sleeping together with your child, especially if you decide to share your bed can be dangerous if not executed carefully. Here are some do’s and don’t of co-sleeping.
- Remember no matter if you are co-sleeping or not your baby should always sleep on their back. You can give them some belly time during the day when they are supervised. But during the night they should never sleep on their tummies.
- Make sure that the baby is secure where they sleep. They can’t fall out of bed or their cribs, and they can get lodged into the side of their bassinet.
- Ensure that the baby’s sleeping surface is clear. There shouldn’t be any pillows or blankets near their head as they can potentially suffocate them.
- Don’t let your baby co-sleep with siblings until they are older. Children can sleep quite deeply and can easily hurt the baby in their sleep without meaning to.
- If you have long hair make sure you tie it up before bed. It can also be a hazard as it can easily wrap around their fingers or limbs. And as they move around during the night they can easily tighten.
- Never sleep in the same bed with your child if you drank alcohol or took drugs. This includes medicine that can make you drowsy. Your senses might get muddied, and you might roll over and suffocate the baby without realising it.
- If you are sharing the same bed make sure the baby sleeps on your side not between you and your partner. They can overheat easily or even suffocate between the two of you.
- Keep in mind that while bed sharing can provide a lot of skin to skin contact and in general it’s a more traditional approach it can also increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome), while sharing the room with your child but not the same bed can decrease this risk greatly.
Pros of Co-Sleeping
Remember that co-sleeping is not a new concept. This method can be frowned upon in certain communities especially in developed countries however it still remains one of the most popular options in developing countries where parents still often share beds with their children. Co-sleeping is definitely not an ideal option for everyone but it can be a total game-changer for some.
Advocates of co-sleeping often say that parents get more sleep in general which can also help new mothers recover faster after giving birth. The baby is usually at armth length or within the same room, so feeding during the night is much quicker and more convenient for the mother. This also encourages breastfeeding over the bottle which can help some mothers with maintaining their milk supply as well.
Babies tend to sleep better and for longer when co-sleeping, mainly because you can be there straight away when they stir so they can feed before they are fully awake. This will make it easier for them to go back to sleep after feeding and can improve their quality of sleep as well.
This setup can also help you if your baby suffers from separation anxiety during the night.
Cons of Co-Sleeping
As many parenting techniques, co-sleeping also has some down sides for sure.
Keeping your baby close to you might seem like the safest option but remember to take the precautions very seriously as mistakes can be fatal. From suffocation to overheating many things can come up and while room sharing can reduce, bed sharing can increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome).
Intimacy might not be the first thing on your mind especially when you are a new parent however keep in mind that being intimate doesn’t always have to mean sex. Cuddles and caresses can also be an important part of your relationship and having your baby near you all night can have a negative effect on your relationship with your partner as well. It’s important that if you decide by co-sleeping you communicate with your partner and work around this issue together.
The dependency issue is another one that’s widely debated as when you are co-sleeping you are catering your child’s needs at all times which could potentially have a negative effect on their developing sense of independence.
One of the most common setbacks co-sleeping can cause however is when you try to transition your baby into a crib eventually. This process can take a while if you have a baby that’s used to co-sleeping so make sure you are patient with your child.
Co-sleeping is definitely not suitable for all families. Keep in mind that despite the dangers, co-sleeping can be practiced safely as long as you follow all safety measures. There is no consecutive study on the long term effects on co-sleeping so there is no “official” right or wrong way. Do what works the best for you and your family.
what are your experiences with co-sleeping? Do you stand for or against it? Let us know down in the comments!