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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Bonding-Parents who co-sleep are bonding also.
- Infant Physiological Stimulation-According to the Holistic Pediatric Association, it may help an infant's immature nervous system regulate itself during sleep.
- Bedtime Fears Reduced or Eliminated-Children who co-sleep with a parent are much less likely to suffer from night terrors or nightmares.
Although the above statements are compelling reasons to begin co-sleeping with your child, there are some safety issues that should be addressed.
- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns against placing babies up to the age of two into adult beds.
- The Healthy Children.org suggests that co-sleeping can increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Suffocation is a very real risk.
- Strangulation could occur if baby were to be caught between the mattress and headboard, footboard, or wall.
- 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.
- 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.
- Put your baby to sleep on her back.
- Be sure that sheets and blankets aren't on or near your baby's head or face.
- 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.
- Don't place your bed near windows that have cords or ties for blinds or curtains to reduce the risk of strangulation.
- 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.
- Don't leave your baby alone in an adult bed.