No matter who you ask, someone is going to have an opinion on whether or not you should co-sleep with your baby. Every opinion is going to be just as unique as the individual you ask.
Some experts believe that co-sleeping is a beautiful way to increase the bond between parent and baby, as well, it can simplify nursing and increase that much wanted cuddle time.
Dr. James McKenna is a huge advocate of co-sleeping and has even been dubbed the “Father of Co-Sleeping.” He has published over 139 relevant articles around the benefits of sleeping with your baby and how babies need their mothers beside them. He even states that a baby’s need of being close to its mother is a genuine and physiological need.
Here you will see Dr. James McKenna explain the biology of baby sleep.
However, along with all the good that could be said about co-sleeping, there is a great deal of negatives as well that should not be ignored. You want what is best for your baby and though there is a lot of research that say co-sleeping is best for your little one, the same can be said against it.
Here you will see both the negative and positive side of co-sleeping. Additionally, you are going to gain some insight into the alternatives that allow you to provide your baby the wonderful benefits of sleeping with them, without worrying about the negative things that can happen when you share your bed with your little baby.
You might be wondering:
What are the advantages of co-sleeping?
Let’s have a look:
Easier for Breastfeeding
If you are a breastfeeding mother, getting up multiple times a night is not only taxing on you physically, but can take its toll on you mentally as well. Having to get out of bed and walk to your babies’ room and spending the time feeding and comforting your child also has you on your feet more.
When you co-sleep with your baby, you can eliminate a lot of extra exertion and you can just reach for your baby so they get what they want quickly, without disturbing the entire household. Just be sure that when you breastfeed your baby while in bed, that you are careful to place your baby back in a safe sleeping spot immediately after feeding to reduce any risk of harm.
Better for Skin to Skin Contact
Many experts will say that skin to skin contact with your baby is one the most crucial elements to help them develop. All babies love cuddles, but skin to skin cuddles is a great way to prevent many newborn problems. Furthermore, it is a great way to promote your babies brain development.
Skin to skin contact has also been proven to help premature babies stabilize, keep babies warm and help them to thrive. When you co-sleep with your baby, you now have more opportunity for this crucial skin to skin contact with your baby.
You get to strengthen the bond you have with your baby.
Your Giving Birth Recovery Time Lessens
Yes, you read that right. You, as a new mother, also benefit greatly from co-sleeping.
Giving birth to a baby is a traumatic event for your body. You undergo a huge life changing event when you have a baby.
Whether this is your first baby or not, postnatal depression can rise and hit you hard. Studies have shown that co-sleeping can help reduce the impact of postnatal depression and help you to recover faster.
If your birth didn’t go as planned or you had a particularly uncomfortable one, co-sleeping is a way to help reduce the negative effects quickly. Though there are no hard and fast rules that state that you will not experience any trauma if you co-sleep, it is shown to help you.
Deeper Sense of Trust and Love
When you spend extra time with your baby, you are helping to develop their love and trust in you. Whether you are sleeping or not, spending at least 12 hours a day with your baby in the same room will help your baby feel more secure.
Not every mom who gives birth feels this instant love and bond with their baby. This can take time after meeting your baby for the first time. Co-sleeping can help you develop that bond and help you develop your deep maternal love for your baby. Not only are you helping your baby learn to love and trust in you, but you are also developing those feelings also for your baby.
On the flip side of the co-sleeping coin:
As with the many pros for sleeping with your child in the same bed, there are cons too that go along with it.
What are the disadvantages of co-sleeping?
Increased Risk of SIDS
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is probably every parent’s worst nightmare. Your baby dies without explanation or reason. There is some research that suggests that there is a link between SIDS and co-sleeping. However, this is controversial.
Bed-sharing with your infant is the issue that was found when it comes to co-sleeping, not having your baby within arm’s reach. Also, as co-sleeping continues to grow in popularity, health care providers are helping to raise awareness of how-to co-sleep more safely with your baby.
Dr. James McKenna also touched on this point.
Threads and Hairs from Your Bed.
One scary thing that is happening more and more often to babies is something called “Toe Tourniquet”. Toe tourniquet is where a strand of hair or a thread from bedding can get wrapped around a baby’s finger or toe and cut off circulation.
The hair gets wrapped around as your baby sleeps and wiggles around. When you have long hair and you sleep with your baby, it is best to tie your hair back in a braid to prevent straggling strands from inadvertently being wrapped around your babies’ sensitive digits.
Your Relationship with your Partner
Nothing says intimacy like having a baby in your bed with you right? Didn’t think so. One of the biggest cons of co-sleeping with your baby is the impact it can have on your relationship with your partner. All healthy relationships need the intimacy that comes with it.
If you choose to co-sleep with your baby, you may need to take the extra time necessary to achieve closeness with your partner.
Possibility of Smothering your baby
One of the biggest arguments against co-sleeping is that it is easy to smother your baby unintentionally. Some say that this won’t happen, but it can. As a matter of fact, there is some research that is saying that suffocation deaths from co-sleeping is on the rise.
More and more babies are dying by unintentionally being suffocated either by parents or the blankets on the parents bed when they are co-sleeping with their babies. It is never the intent and we would like to hope that we would wake up before a baby could suffocate to death, but that isn’t always the case.
You are exhausted when you have a baby and when you do sleep, it can be deep and impenetrable at times. Therefore, you need to be aware that if you choose to co-sleep with your baby, there is the possibility of suffocation.
Unfortunately, there is not a right or wrong answer when it comes to co-sleeping. Ultimately, that decision is yours.
However, there are alternatives to co-sleeping that you can look into for your baby.
You might ask:
What are those alternatives?
Set up a sleeping space for your baby in your room that is his/her corner or nook, but still near you. Instead of sharing a bed with your baby or having them right next to you, you place a bassinet like this one for your baby in your room.
With this bassinet, you can give your baby their own sleeping space close by. Since bassinets are so portable, as your baby grows and you want to move your baby to their own room, they can start in a bed they are already comfortable sleeping in at night.
Providing your baby with a separate sleeping area in your room where they are close enough to get to with ease, but not so close that you can reach out and touch them, can help you to enjoy the benefits of co-sleeping and having your baby close to you.
Placing your baby right next to your bed using a bedside bassinet like this one by ComfyBumpy can lead to less anxiety for your baby and help them to achieve better sleep quality. Ultimately, it can also help your baby to go back to sleep without you because they know you are right beside them.
Another reason this is a great alternative is that there is less chance of any of the negative effects of co-sleeping in the same bed. However, you are still right beside your baby.
You get better and more relaxed sleep too knowing your baby is safe right beside you.
Whether you decide to co-sleep or not, the decision is yours to make. There is a lot to be said for or against the topic of co-sleeping. However, if you want to co-sleep with your baby but are scared of the terrible things that can accompany having a little baby in your bed, have a look at the alternatives.
You can still co-sleep with your baby in a bed of their own right beside yours or in your room. You don’t have to live with the anxiety that could come with co-sleeping in the same bed as your little one. Choose one of the alternatives in order to gain the benefits of sleeping with your baby without the negatives that go along with it.
Co-sleeping is a topic that conveys a lot of thought and feelings. Feel free to share what you think about co-sleeping in the comments section. We would love to hear your thoughts on this matter.