We are not here to tell you or pass judgement on co-sleeping. We want all mothers to be informed and education and then feel confident in making a decision that is best for their family.
Co-sleeping is a common practice where infants or toddlers sleep close to their parent(s) or in the same bed. This means that both the baby and the parent can feel the presence of the other. For most moms, bringing your baby home is one of the most overwhelming and exciting experiences. You want to be around them as much as you can. This often leaves most parents wondering if they should share the bed with the baby, place the baby cot next to the bed or simply let them sleep in their crib. Well, this article provides an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of co-sleeping.
Pros of Co-Sleeping
There are various reasons why parents may choose to let the baby sleep next to them. Some of the advantages this practice include:
- It Comforts and Helps to Nature the Baby
Most parents who co-sleep have reported that this type of practice leads to minimized chances of distressed behavior and less crying. Sharing the bed with your baby or placing them in a crib next to your bed makes the baby feel safe. They end up with reduced anxiety resulting in quality and long-lasting sleep. The ability of the baby to see and feel their parent in the same room usually comforts them. With co-sleeping, the baby might wake up but if they can see or feel you next to them, they might simply go back to sleep on their own.
- It makes it Easier to Breastfeed
Babies usually eat throughout the day and night. For a breastfeeding mom, this means that you may end up waking five or more times at night. Having to wake up every now and then in order to feed the baby can be mentally and physically exhausting. The effect can be worse if you need to get out of bed and go to the next room. Co-sleeping means that your baby is within your reach and you don’t have to even get out of the bed. You can breastfeed your baby as soon as you can, comfort them back to sleep, and then go back to your sleep.
- Less Getting Up and Down
It doesn’t matter if you are breastfeeding or not, you are still going to wake up at night because the baby might have soiled their diaper, they are unwell, or just need attention. Co-sleeping leads to reduced movements because the baby is right there with you. You don’t need to wake up and move to another room in order to pick them up. You will be in a position to attend to them on time as you will be able to hear their first cries or initial movements.
- Helps the Mother to Recover
It’s been reported that more than 20 percent of new mothers usually end up suffering from postnatal depression. Studies suggest this condition can be prevented and its symptoms minimized by co-sleeping. This type of sleeping arrangement allows the mother to get through the traumatic childbirth experience very quickly and leads to better recovery.
- Improved Skin Contact
One of the best ways of bonding with your baby and improve their development is skin-to-skin contact. It helps them to breastfeed more easily and it prevents hypoglycemia. Additionally, it promotes healthy development of the brain. According to studies, the brain usually craves some type of sensory stimulation and this type of contact may help the baby to experience healthy development socially and emotionally. Skin-to-skin contact is also used with premature and underweight babies to help them stabilize.
Cons of Co-Sleeping
As much as co-sleeping has a lot of benefits, it also has some downsides which parents should consider. Some of the reasons why some parents avoid bed-sharing or sleeping with their babies in the same room include:
- Increased Risk of SIDS
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a condition where the cause of the baby’s death can’t be found or explained. According to research about infant deaths, it was established that more than 70 percent of unexplained infant deaths happened while they were sharing the bed with their parents. There are many factors that can lead to SID and one of them is suffocation. The big pillows and heavy blankets may obstruct the baby’s nose and mouth leading to difficulties in breathing. This condition may be aggravated if you have water-beds comforters and soft bedding.
- It Disrupts the Relationship between Parents
This is one of the most common disadvantages of co-sleeping. As much as it’s okay to bond and stay with your baby during the night, most people don’t understand the effect it has on their partners. Having a baby in your room disrupts intimacy because all the attention is diverted to them. Their presence and needs are not the best recipes for an active sex life.
- Bad Sleeping Habits
Babies who co-sleep with their parents may find it very hard to sleep by themselves especially during the day. This is because they are used to their parents’ company before they fall asleep. The increased dependence leads to bad sleeping habits and irregular sleeping times. This is because the child will always want to wait for their parents before they can go to bed.
- Makes It Difficult to Move Them to Their Crib
Moving your baby to their crib when they are used to co-sleeping can be challenging. They may end getting distressed and confused. To make this process easier, ensure that you first explain it to your toddler because most parents co-sleep with their babies until they are around 2 years. Thereafter, allow the baby to play in their crib during the day and take naps there. This helps them to familiarize with the new sleeping environment before you eventually let them sleep there.
- The Baby May Overheat
While it’s okay to have your baby with you in the same bed, they risk overheating. Your body’s temperature in addition to the heat produced by the blankets may be too much for them. Note that overheating increases the risk of SIDS. If you are co-sleeping with a newborn, avoid using heavy blankets and just sleep in warm clothes. This helps to minimize the risk of the baby getting trapped under the blankets and overheating. Your child’s body temperature must remain even throughout the night.
Again, we are not claiming either is best. We know that as mothers your choices will be what is best for your baby.