Babies and sleep are inseparable. They work together very well. In fact, aside from feeding, babies spend most of their time sleeping in beds, cribs, and just about anywhere. But what do we mean when we say co-sleeping?
Co-sleeping, at its heart, is the practice of sleeping in the same bed with your baby. Or sleeping in close range with your baby. This practice encourages strong bonding between mom (or the caregiver) and the baby. This reassures the baby that her needs will be met because her mom is just around. This also lessens stress and anxiety for both mom and the baby.
Here Are Some Ways Of Co-Sleeping
- Bed-sharing or Family Bed – This is an arrangement where the parents and the baby sleep in the same bed. Some parents secure a family bed big enough to let their kid/s sleepover if ever they wake up from a nightmare or they just want to squeeze in.
- Sidecar arrangement – This is where you attach your baby’s crib to your side of the bed for you to have an easy access to each other. If the rails of the crib are adjustable, you can adjust and lower down the rail next to you so you can tap and soothe your baby if she cries or attempts to wake up during the night.
- Different beds but in the same room – We are still talking about cribs and bassinets for your baby. If she is old enough, you can place her crib or bassinet just far enough that you can still see each other.This way, she will be trained to sleep on her own but still secure enough to know that she can just call you if she needs something. This will give her peace of mind that you are just around and will be there for her anytime.
- As-needed basis – This is an arrangement where your child already has her own bedroom but chooses to sleep with you maybe because she is seeking comfort from a bad dream or coping up with a bad day. Most families are familiar with this.
Advantages And Benefits Of Co-Sleeping
Co-sleeping are being practiced by most parents because they cling to its benefits and advantages. And if you are a first-time parent, you wouldn’t want your little one to be out of sight even during the night. Let us discover the positive effects of co-sleeping.
BENEFITS FOR NEWBORNS
- Babies get more sleep because they can be attended to immediately when they wake up during the night – They don’t need to wait for you to get your robe, walk a few meters or down the stairs to feed them and check them out. If your baby is right by your side, you can be there in a flash.
Keeping babies close during the day with lights and noise acquaints them to be more alert and awake during the day. Having them close at night with lesser noise and calmer environment will help them learn to rest more at night.
- Helping babies practice rousing themselves – According to an expert, co-sleeping with babies helps them to be frequently aroused. Lighter sleep is safer for newborns.
“Putting your baby into deep sleep might sound tempting. But according to an expert, a deep sleep is not designed for baby.”
This practice can actually help babies develop their self-preservation instinct like being aware if there’s a sign of danger. This can also reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Less crying at night – babies fall asleep more quickly if they feel secure. That’s why most of the time, they fell asleep when they are being held.Moms that co-sleep will most likely be familiar with their babies’ timetables. This means less crying for babies because moms will take those little hints to give them their needs during that certain time of day or night.
BENEFITS FOR OLDER BABIES
- Co-sleeping encourages strong bonding and security – This attachment translates to a baby feeling secure knowing that their mother or caregiver will attend to their needs. Children who grow up with this attachment often show minimal distress and positive connection with their parents.Co-sleeping encourages the release of what we call “love hormone” oxytocin. If you are a working mom, this could definitely help you make up for your baby. Nighttime closeness gives you a quality time that you can spend with your little one.This is also beneficial for older infants especially if their parents are working during the day and they are left with caregivers or at a daycare. If you are one of these parents, make it up to your child. Keep those family ties strong!
- Co-sleeping regulates babies’ heart rates and temperatures – Believe it or not, older babies still have difficulties regulating their body temperatures and they may get too cold or warm during the night. And because they can’t pull up their blankets by themselves, this may not be an option.It’s easier to regulate their body temperatures in a natural way by keeping them close to their parents to sleep during the night.
- Co-sleeping ensures the safety of your baby in her cot – This becomes a real concern if your baby learned to crawl, roll over, and stand with assistance. Your baby moves now! And if you have an older crib, check if it is up to the current safety standards. If not, buy a new one for your kid’s safety.You need to watch out if your baby turns over because this might cause suffocation. She might try sticking her head out the rails or try to stand without your supervision that may cause injuries.
BENEFITS FOR TODDLERS
- Toddlers grow less anxious and have less behavioral issues – Several studies show that toddlers who practiced co-sleeping are well-adjusted. When they are enrolled in a daycare or preschool, they will be less concerned about naptime because they got used to the security they had when they were with you.
- Toddlers who co-sleep are more trusting – Sleeping alongside with parents builds up trust. Toddlers know that their parents are there to protect and be with them. This would lead them to trust other people too especially those who will help them.
- Toddlers learn to be independent and less fearsome – Toddlers who were forced to transfer in their own bedrooms are most likely to develop fear in the dark and nightmares. And because they are not getting good nights of sleep, they become nervous and uneasy during their waking hours.If toddlers are allowed to co-sleep, they will be able to build courage and confidence while they are alongside their parents.
- Toddlers will stop relying on self-soothing methods like thumb sucking – Toddlers will most likely stop thumb sucking if they are near their parents. Most toddlers do this because they are nervous or afraid but knowing that their parents are there to protect them, they won’t have any reason to thumb suck anymore.And after breaking the thumb sucking habit, they will soon give up their security blankets and items, too, because they won’t rely on these things for protection. They have you as their superheroes!
BENEFITS FOR OLDER KIDS
- Older children who co-sleep have a healthier relationship with the family – Kids who co-sleep develop more trust toward their parents and family members. This encourages a healthier bond between siblings and other family members, too.
- Older kids are more likely to be confident – Since they feel safer at night because they are not alone, they are more likely to be confident. They know that they won’t face their fears alone.These kids, with an increased level of confidence, might try out different sports and class involvement. They know they can do these things because you are there to back them up.
- They develop better self-esteem than those who don’t co-sleep – Because they feel protected, they are less likely to think of negative things about themselves. The attention and care that their parents give to them make them happy and confident. These positive feelings can provide a boost in their self-esteem which can be helpful in their childhood.
- A toddler can be more open about their day – As parents, we get too busy during the day because of our hectic schedules. A quiet setting during the night just before sleeping is the perfect time to ask each other about how their day went.Your kids may grab this opportunity to speak out and tell you all about their day. They might even voice out their concerns about school, friends, or about anything or anyone that you did not notice or know about.
- Let them decide when they want to move out of your room – You know they are ready if they ask to move out of your room and sleep in their own bedroom. That is your cue that they want to step out of their comfort zone. Say yes and let them be.This will open up a new world of adventure for them. Let them explore and conquer their fear when they are ready. Give them the freedom to choose as long as their choice will be good for them.
BENEFITS FOR PARENTS
- Parents can sleep more comfortably – Imagine if your baby is in the baby’s room next to yours. When you finally lie to rest, a gush of questions enter your mind: Is she sleeping fine? Are the lights off? Are the blankets still in place? Did I close all the windows in her room?Those are just a few questions that you would ask yourself if you don’t have a view of your baby’s situation in the next room. If you are co-sleeping, you can sleep comfortably knowing and seeing that your baby is sleeping okay next to you.
- Co-sleeping helps maintain an active supply of milk – Remember that your breast milk works on supply and demand process. Continuous breastfeeding, especially during the night, helps you maintain or increase your milk to meet your babies need.Babies are frequent eaters because they are growing rapidly. Co-sleeping helps both the mom and the baby to meet this need and somehow sync baby’s hunger and milk supply even at night.
- Breastfeeding at night also have the tendency to prolong the child-spacing effects of breastfeeding or prevent pregnancy again – This is also called the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) of birth control. A mother who breastfeeds goes through natural postpartum infertility when she does not menstruate because of breastfeeding. But LAM is only effective in preventing pregnancy if the conditions below are met: • Your baby is not over 6 months old • Your monthly visitor (menstrual period) has not returned yet • You’re continuously breastfeeding (day and night) and have an active supply of milk
- Meeting baby’s needs with less hassle– It’s easier for breastfeeding moms, too, when their babies are nearby. If you are in close contact with your baby, you will be able to tell when she starts getting cranky and tend to her before she cries in full volume.Also, if co-sleeping has been practiced early on, you’ll find yourself in sync with your baby’s timetable, especially during nighttime. You’ll be able to anticipate when your baby needs feeding even before she screams for it.Being able to (breast) feed, soothe, and meet your baby’s needs by just rolling over will give you both more rest. Less crying for baby, and less effort for you. You will remain in your restful state which can lead you back to sleep easily.In general, parents who practice co-sleeping are happier and less stressed about their children than those who don’t
Isn’t it wonderful to sleep next to your baby? And how wonderful is it to wake up next to a smiling little angel? These are the moments that moms shouldn’t and wouldn’t dare to miss. Babies won’t be babies forever. They will outgrow the cribs soon and choose to eat with friends when they grow older. Make the most out of these precious times.
Creating A Safe Sleep Area For Your Baby
Anything that a baby sleeps on should be made safe including cribs and cradles and even adult beds. How should we keep a sleeping area safe for our babies?
- Babies should be monitored when they sleep.
- Make sure to put babies on their back if they sleep.
- Their sleeping areas should be clean and firm.
- Avoid putting stuffed animals, soft pillows and blankets near the baby’s face.
- If your bed is placed in a corner wall, check the space in between. If your baby can roll over, she might be trapped in the space between or fall from the bed if not monitored carefully.
- Avoid letting your baby sleep on a sofa or couch where she can slip into the fissure or become trapped between the sofa pillows.
- Parents should not be under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.
- Avoid bed-sharing with your baby if you are regularly smoking.
- Do not allow your baby to sleep with another baby under one year old unsupervised.
- If you are a deep sleeper, extremely obese, or sick, let your baby sleep on a separate sleeping surface.
- Make sure you are not wearing pieces of jewelry or clothing with strings when you bed-share with your baby.
- Tie your hair up especially if you have long hair.
The Dangers And Disadvantages Of Co-Sleeping
While there are advantages of co-sleeping that might convince you to bed-share with your baby, there are also dangers of co-sleeping that can make you think twice.
NOTE: Do not ever bed-share with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes or e-cigarettes. Also, avoid co-sleeping if you are taking any medications that cause drowsiness.
Bed-sharing is not also encouraged if your baby is:
- Under 3 or 4 months old
- Premature (born earlier than 37 weeks)
- Underweight (less than 2.5 kilograms)
So, here are the dangers and disadvantages of co-sleeping:
- Your baby will have trouble sleeping with someone else – Since your baby is used to sleeping near you, she might not want to be sleeping with someone else. If you need to go out of town for an important event, leaving your baby with a caregiver or relative may be hard to impossible.
- Less sleep for you – Babies are cute but they are noisy little creatures. They cry, burp, and some of them even snore. You may have trouble sleeping if you are still not used of these sounds during the night.
- Getting trapped by the bed’s frame and getting stuck between the bed and the wall or other objects – That’s why it is highly suggested to have a mattress that fits perfectly to your bed frame to avoid spaces that the baby might fall into. Also, keep away pillows, stuffed animals, blankets, and quilts close to the baby as this might cause suffocation to her.
- Falling off the bed – This can happen if your baby already knows how to crawl and roll over. She can fall off the bed anytime if left unsupervised.
- Having another person roll on top of your baby – There is a higher danger if you are bed-sharing with someone else, like your husband or another child, aside from your baby.It can be so risky to have more people in bed aside from the baby. They may move aggressively in bed and roll on top of the baby that may cause suffocation and may lead to the baby’s death.
- An eventual transition may be dreadful – Transferring from your bed to her own bed might be unpleasant for your child when the time comes. Expect to deal with a grumpy kid as you make her transfer to her bedroom. It may take a while for her to get used to the change.
- Accidental suffocation and strangulation – Most doctors are actually against bed-sharing because this idea creates a high possibility of accidents in bed that may cause infant deaths.This usually happens when the mom falls asleep while breastfeeding her baby and unintentionally press her down causing her to suffocate. Some cases of suffocation and strangulation involve pillows, blankets or stuffed animals.
- Less whoopee – (Unheeded sex life) Most of the parents will find it weird to do it when their baby is just sleeping in one room with them. This often leads to disregarded sex life.It is better to be open about this with your partner so both of you can come up with an arrangement. After all, you are still a wife to your husband even after becoming a mom to your little one. You can do this, supermama!
- 1Why should you sleep with your baby?There are many advantages when you co-sleep with your baby aside from strengthening your mama-baby relationship. You are both at ease because you, as a mother, can soothe her if she attempts to cry and attend to her needs immediately. Your baby will also feel secure because she knows that you are near to provide her needs.This will also give you quality time with your baby especially if you are working during the day. This will help you maintain and increase your milk supply if you feed your baby as much as you can. That’s one of the magic of breastfeeding – it works on demand and supply process.
- 2At what age should you stop co-sleeping with your baby?Age is not the only factor to consider as to when to stop co-sleeping. It depends on the family situation and tradition, child or parent’s condition, and etc.Ideally, kids around 8 years old would want to have their own bedroom. If they ask for a separate bedroom, then, that’s the first little step of their independence of sleeping on their own.Special cases like parents going on a divorce or children who need special attention and medication are also things to consider.
- 3Is it dangerous to sleep with your baby?Yes, there are dangers and risks of co-sleeping. The idea of co-sleeping is still being frowned upon by most medical practitioners because of the risks it yields. The worst thing that could happen when you are sharing a bed with your baby is when you roll on top of her accidentally. This can lead to your baby’s death.Aside from that, she can fall off the bed or get stuck between the corners of the bed. She might not be comfortable sleeping with other people besides her and that might get you into trouble if you need to go out of town. In the long run, she may have trouble transitioning to sleeping in her own bedroom.