Susie McGee

Controversy continues to surround the idea of co-sleeping. The pros and cons are continuously debated, and parents continue to defend their opinions on the subject. Should you co-sleep with your baby? Are there any benefits to the practice? What about safety issues? Keep reading, and then make an informed decision about co-sleeping with your baby!

What Is Co-Sleeping?

Co-sleeping is when baby is allowed to share mommy and daddy's bed. In fact, the bed is sometimes simply referred to as a "family bed." Baby may have his own room, but when it is time for "night-night," he'll snuggle in with his parents till morning.

Benefits of Co-Sleeping

There actually are several advantages to sharing a bed with your child. It may take you a few nights to adjust to sleeping with your baby, though.

  1. Breastfeeding-Breastfeeding mothers who co-sleep with their babies find that this is a convenient method of taking care of those middle-of-the-night feedings without leaving a warm bed.
  2. Sleep Patterns-Parents can instantly respond to a child's cries when they are sharing a bed. Babies also fall asleep more easily with the comfort of a loving parent close by. Both parents and baby may find that they sleep better, too!
  3. Bonding-Parents who co-sleep are bonding also.
  4. Infant Physiological Stimulation-According to the Holistic Pediatric Association, it may help an infant's immature nervous system regulate itself during sleep.
  5. Bedtime Fears Reduced or Eliminated-Children who co-sleep with a parent are much less likely to suffer from night terrors or nightmares.

Safety Issues

Although the above statements are compelling reasons to begin co-sleeping with your child, there are some safety issues that should be addressed.

  1. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns against placing babies up to the age of two into adult beds.
  2. The Healthy suggests that co-sleeping can increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  3. Suffocation is a very real risk.
  4. Strangulation could occur if baby were to be caught between the mattress and headboard, footboard, or wall.
  5. Babies should not be allowed to sleep with toddlers!

Creating a Safe Co-Sleeping Environment

If you do choose to co-sleep with your baby, you can create a safer environment for your child.

  1. Make sure your mattress fits snugly into the bedframe, and that there isn't space between the bed and wall if your bed is placed against a wall.
  2. Put your baby to sleep on her back.
  3. Be sure that sheets and blankets aren't on or near your baby's head or face.
  4. Don't use a pillow for your baby, and make sure your baby will not come in contact with your pillow to reduce a risk of suffocation.
  5. Don't place your bed near windows that have cords or ties for blinds or curtains to reduce the risk of strangulation.
  6. Don't take medications or drink alcohol before bedtime. This could keep you from waking up if you were to roll over onto your baby.
  7. Don't leave your baby alone in an adult bed.

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