As a new mother, I wondered about the idea of co-sleeping,
which can entail sleeping in either close proximity to the baby or in the same
bed. The more I researched the subject, the more I realized there is a great
deal of debate about whether this strategy will help or hurt the child in the
long run. There are also differing expert opinions on how long co-sleeping
should go on before the child moves to his or her own room.
This is because having the baby right next to you and not in another room means being able to respond to the child’s needs instantly. You don’t have to wake up, turn on lights and go down the hall to another room to give your baby the attention he or she needs if there is a big fuss in the middle of the night.
Whatever your child needs at the time he or she wakes up and cries out, you can address the need without coming all the way out of a deep sleep in most cases. This makes falling back to sleep much easier once the child’s needs are met.
Having his or her mother right there to address any concern gives the child a better sense of security and safety. Your baby will not have any reason to fuss or get cranky if you can learn to quickly respond to any outburst or cry for attention.
The alert parent simply takes a moment to figure out what’s wrong and fix it, and the baby hardly has time to pull off a major tantrum. The less time the baby spends in an upset mood, the quicker he or she will doze off again.
Experts additionally report that breastfeeding your child at night can greatly reduce the incidences of congenital diseases and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Bottle feeding a baby is only recommended in situations where the child is not on the same bed surface as you are.
While some pediatricians discourage co-sleeping by arguing the activity increases the chances of SIDS, there is a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that concludes a parent sleeping in the same room as the baby can reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent. So, if you are not comfortable with the inherent risks of bed sharing, you can still set up a co-sleeping arrangement with your child in a crib or bassinet right next to the bed surface.
Co-sleeping will also help your child learn to hone his or her natural senses. A newborn baby relies heavily on older people to learn how to properly react to different situations. Leaving a child by itself for long periods of time can actually delay learning these correct responses to stimuli.
The extra time spent with your child, even as he or she sleeps, also helps maintain a healthy parental relationship. The more time you can spend with your baby, the more he or she will begin to understand what loving and being loved is really all about.
There are just so many distractions that get in the way of the passion that might have been much stronger in the relationship before the birth of your baby. Keeping the child in the same room even during sleep hours can compound and complicate this dilemma.
Some parents might just feel too uncomfortable making love to each other with a baby or infant in the room. This is especially true if the child gets fussy at the worst possible time, killing the mood and requiring immediate attention to quiet down.
Some adults simply cannot ever get used to getting up multiple times in the middle of the night without ending up staying awake for an unhealthy amount of time. Sleep styles and patterns are also important in determining whether or not you should have the child in the same bed with you.
SIDS can actually occur more frequently in bed-sharing situations, but it is also important to note that this is especially true in circumstances where the parents are very heavy sleepers or must rely on drugs, alcohol or cigarettes to get themselves to bed each night.
Since babies can actually smell breast milk, some may wake up to feed even when it’s not a physical need driving their desire. Others might just appreciate silence and solitude more than the tossing and turning of their parents in the same room.
Of course, adults who snore could actually keep a baby awake during the hours he or she should be getting much needed rest. Bed-sharing as opposed to keeping a crib or bassinet near the bed can also make it difficult for your baby to be completely comfortable with a co-sleeping arrangement.
This may ultimately exacerbate the transition to placing the child in his or her own room in the future. In case the baby is in a co-sleeping arrangement where his or her needs are always met immediately, that expectation of help coming on the first outcry for attention could actually be detrimental to the child in terms of gaining a sense of true self-reliance in later years.
However, this is perhaps the most hotly debated aspect of co-sleeping since many pediatric doctors suggest co-sleeping actually increases confidence and independence in later life thanks to the constant nurturing the child receives.
The bottom line here is that co-sleeping is a choice you should make based on your own comfort level and some research of your own. Always pay special attention to any potential safety issue that co-sleeping might present and try to eliminate all potential risks of bed-sharing.
Peekaboo! Barbara speaking. I'm currently the Chief Editor at Sleep Titan and my job is to make sure that the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed on all of our amazing content! The lovely people here at Sleep Titan often tell me that my Friendly Superpowers come out after a glass of wine, but personally, I prefer a strong IPA. The sort of strength that screams alpha all the way! Maybe that's the reason why everyone wants me to have a drink around here. Right?!