Do you reckon co sleeping with your baby is a safe practice? I am not a sleep expert but i will be sharing useful information related to Co sleeping studies done by the experts and hoping to help the new parents to understand better about co sleeping with your baby.
Co-sleeping has both its benefits and drawbacks, and it’s good to be educated in both. With many cultures around the world that make co-sleeping the norm, some countries like the United States make it a controversial topic.
How about you? What side do you fall on? As parents, we want to choose what’s best for our family and what works for us. Here, let us discuss the pros and cons of co-sleeping with your baby to help you with that decision.
Co Sleeping Studies
Co sleeping studies have shown signs of baby has higher risk of getting SIDS if co sleeping with parents under these circumstances:
- co sleep with parents who are after drinking alcohol or taking drugs or overtired
- co sleep with baby on a sofa or chair or waterbed
- parents smoke on the bed or have smoked during pregnancy
- co sleep with premature or low birth weight baby at their early infancy
- co sleep with parents who are obese
- baby sleep position, side or tummy which the baby’s face may get obstructed by object such as soft quality mattresses or comforter
- co sleep with baby with stuffed toys, blanket and pillow
If we can avoid these hazardous situations, SIDS due to co sleeping can be greatly reduced by nearly 90%.
In US, co sleeping with baby is not a norm. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a safe sleep environment that can reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths. Recommendations for a safe sleep environment include
- supine positioning (baby sleeps on the back)
- use of a firm sleep surface
- room-sharing without bed-sharing, sleep on infant’s crib or bassinet close to the parent’s bed
- avoidance of soft bedding, stuffed toys, pillow
- avoid overheating or head covering in infants
- avoidance of exposure to smoke, alcohol, and illicit drugs
- breastfeeding is recommended, is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS
- baby routine immunization must be followed
- and use of a pacifier
What is Co sleeping with the baby?
Co sleeping with the baby is a practice that the baby or toddler sleeps close proximity to the mother or father in the same room. It can be on the same bed or a crib/bassinet next to the bed.
There is a difference between co-sleeping and bed-sharing – two terms we often use interchangeably. Keep in mind that bed-sharing is just one way of co-sleeping.
The Benefits of Co-sleeping with Your Baby
- You can easily comfort your baby
Co-sleeping with your baby can lead to less crying. When they cry at night, you can quickly comfort them and avoid them crying longer to wake the whole household.
You may choose to put them in another room with a monitor. But having them in the same room can make them less anxious. They’ll know you’re still around, and they’ll feel safer.
- It will be convenient for breastfeeding moms
Newborns need to be fed almost every two hours. Imagine waking up and going to the next room to feed them. It would be exhausting.
Co-sleeping allows you to have your baby within your arm’s reach. You can quickly feed your baby, let them get back to sleep, and get back to your sleep. Breastfeeding will in turn protect baby from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Co-sleeping helps prevent SIDS too
With many controversies about co-sleeping attached to SIDS, there is also a way to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (avoid the hazardous situation mentioned above) . Having gaps in breathing can be normal for an infant during the first few months.
With a mother’s breathing next to the baby, it will signal the baby to keep on breathing too. Shall the system fails, the mother, being in sync with the baby’s sleeping patterns, can be awakened if her baby is having difficulty.
- For working parents who don’t see their children during the day, you may take this chance to bond
Going back to work after maternal or paternal leave can be heartbreaking because it means being away from your baby for twelve hours a day. With co sleeping, you can make up for a lost time, and you can feel closer to your baby.
- You and your baby will have more skin-to-skin contact
And this can promote brain development. For premature babies, skin contact proves to be one of the ways to help them stabilize. Babies love to be cuddled. It calms and relaxes them and even stimulates digestion.
The Disadvantages of Co-sleeping with Your Baby
- Co-sleeping disrupts parents’ relationships
There are so many ways co-sleeping can affect your marriage. You may feel tired at work and running the household that the last thing in your mind is probably to have sex. But research shows that one of the common reasons why couples divorce is not having enough sleep.
Upon entering a co-sleeping arrangement, both of you have to be aware of its pros and cons and should both agree and commit to the arrangement. Obviously, having a baby sleeping on the same bed will mean less chance of having sex unless you can find other places and time to do it.
- They can easily disrupt your sleeping
For us to function better as adults, we need to have a quality sleep too. Children can disrupt our sleep with a kick, and it can be frustrating and exhausting waking up to this.
- There is a risk for your child falling out of bed
Are you using waterbeds at home? Is there a gap between the bed and the wall? Does the mattress fit appropriately in the frame? These are just a few of the things you need to check when you decide to co-sleep with your baby.
Babies must sleep on a firm surface. Waterbeds that have a soft surface and molding tendencies can obstruct your baby’s breathing. It would be difficult for them to lift their heads.
- Co-sleeping may affect your other children
The sleeping time of different members of the family varies. If you have other older children co-sleeping with your baby, you have to be aware that their sleep will get disrupted once the baby wakes up in the middle of the night. It can be frustrating for those who prefer to sleep and rest more.
Co-sleeping your baby with other older children is also not advisable, no matter how convenient that can be for you as a parent. They might be unaware as they roll around and won’t quickly wake up.
- There is a risk of overheating your baby
Overheating can make your baby uncomfortable and increases the risk of SIDS. Is the clothing too thick? How is the room temperature? Our body also releases heat that when we sleep and snuggle with our newborn.
We recommend sleeping in warm clothes preferably in baby sleeping clothes and don’t use a blanket shall you co-sleep so that you can avoid your baby getting trapped under a blanket.
- Co-sleeping increases the risk of SIDS
Parents or any other objects like pillows may accidentally roll unto your baby, resulting in injury or suffocation to your baby, with the worst scenario as death.
If the baby is younger than four months, it is hazardous for them to sleep on the same bed with you, especially when they were born prematurely or have a low weight. You may keep them in the same room, but not on the same bed.
Making the Decision
With co-sleeping done right, it is possible to avoid the disadvantages of co-sleeping mentioned above. If the parents smoke, drink, or use drugs, co-sleeping can be dangerous to babies. Pediatricians still recommend sleep training which can be too early for infants under six months old.
At this age, it is best to have a harmonious biological system between mothers and their babies. Still, whether to co-sleep or not is a personal decision. There are many factors, pros, and cons to consider, and they are all valid when it comes to co-sleeping with your baby. Whatever you decide on, make sure to take the proper precautions.