Co-sleeping is a topic that puts many a parents in the throes of debate. Co-sleeping is a broad term which includes room-shared, bed-shared and sofa-shared sleep. Room-sharing is common in the first six months of your baby’s life. Bed-sharing is not advised by health professionals although it can be practised by mothers keeping some safety measures in mind. Sofa-sharing is extremely risky for your baby and has been conclusively linked to cot death.
Co-sleeping works for some parents but is a failure for others. The pros and cons below may help you decide.
The pros of co-sleeping:
- Since you don’t have to run in-between rooms, you get to sleep more.
- When you co-sleep and your baby stirs, you can nurse or soothe her back to sleep without much ado.
- Breastfeeding becomes easier at night.
- Night breastfeeding helps to maintain your milk supply.
- Co-sleeping decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by as much as 50% by preventing an infant from entering into sleep states that are too deep.
- Your baby does not experience any night-time separation anxiety.
- Since you are so close, there are no bedtime hassles.
- Sleeping together puts a nursing mom’s sleep cycle in sync with her baby’s.
- It helps achieve a sense of intimacy between the baby and the parents who don’t see their baby much during the day. The relaxing hormones that are produced in response to baby nursing relax a mother and help her de-stress after a busy day.
The Cons of Co-Sleeping:
- Experts say that sleeping in the same bed is not safe for the baby but sharing a room has its advantages.
- Some infants toss and turn and burp in their sleep making it hard for you to sleep. Also the fear of rolling onto their infant hampers the parents’ sleep. It is even harder sleeping with older children as they are likely to take all your space, your pillow and your blanket too, only to throw it off the bed. Not a sleep conducive environment.
- Since your baby is nearby, you will be more tempted to pick and coddle her at the first sign of a whimper. This may prove to be taxing for both you and the baby.
- A baby in the middle of the bed obviously reduces the levels of intimacy between couples. So if you are missing a romantic spark, get your baby’s room ready.
- One research says that co-sleeping enhances security and independence in children. A contradictory research, however, says that children who co-sleep and eventually move out of parent’s room have a hard time adjusting.
- Once a child is use to assistance sleeping at night, daytime sleep assistance becomes necessary as well.
If you do choose to co-sleep, here are some safety advices to follow:
- Put your baby to sleep on her back.
- Avoid pillows near your baby.
- Get a separate blanket for your baby. Don’t use your duvet, an electric blanket or hot water bottle.
- Don’t place your baby between you and your partner but rather on theoutside of the bed. Put your mattress flush against the wall or put a guardrail with plastic mesh to ensure your baby doesn’t roll over or sink into any crevice.
- Moms should sleep next to their baby as they are physically and mentally very aware of their baby’s presence and are therefore unlikely to roll over on the baby.
- Parents should refrain from co-sleeping with their baby if they have had painkillers or alcohol as it induces deep sleep, which can prove dangerous for the baby.
- Find yourself the biggest bed possible if the three of you plan to co-sleep.
- If you are extremely obese, avoid sleeping with your baby as obesity itself may cause sleep apnea in the mother, besides the danger of rolling over on the baby.
- If you are exhausted from sleep deprivation, give yourself a break and don’t sleep with your baby as your fatigue will reduce your awareness of your baby.
- Do not allow your older child to sleep with your baby who is under nine months as children are not so aware of a tiny baby’s presence.
- Avoid wearing pungent hair sprays or perfumes as they may irritate and/or block your baby’s nasal passages.
- Do not wear any jewellery or night wear with long strings as the baby may get entangled in them.
If you want to move your co-sleeping baby to her own room, try doing it before she is two years old. Habits are harder to change post this age. If the going gets tough, place a mattress next to your bed to ease the separation.
Co-sleeping can be a wonderful experience for parents and the baby. But sooner or later your child will need her own bed. So it’s your call whether you want to enjoy the perks of co-sleeping and struggle with separation later or adjust your baby with a separate bed and/or room from day one. Either ways, there is nothing wrong about either of the choices. However, co-sleeping must be practised with lots of caution and some common sense.
Whatever you choose, hope you have a good night’s sleep 🙂
Suggested reading – PinkBook: The future of the NHS paper red book