There's nothing quite like the joy that parents feel when snuggling up to their newborn. After all, what's sweeter than sleeping next to your little one throughout the night?
But few parenting topics elicit as much debate and judgment as the one revolving around your baby's sleep: which is the healthiest sleeping option, and will it ensure my newborn will sleep through the night?
Contrary to popular belief, your baby's sleep does not reflect your parenting skills; rather, it depends on your culture. Still, new parents are curious to learn whether co-sleeping is healthy or harmful. To answer your question, we've created an insightful guide to co-sleeping your body:
What is Co-Sleeping?
People often use co-sleeping and bed-sharing interchangeably; however, that's not the case. Co-sleeping means allowing your little one to sleep in the same room as you, regardless of whether they're sharing your bed, sleeping on another mattress, or a cot.
According to the AAP, you should put your baby in another bed while sleeping in the same room.
What are the Benefits of Co-Sleeping?
According to famous anthropologist James J. McKenna, when parents sleep with their little one, their sleep states, brain waves, heart rates, temperature, breathing, and oxygen levels impacts the other one.
To an anthropologist, these findings imply that your baby's growth must occur safely and effectively within that biological system, particularly during the first few months of your life.
A small study comprising four to ten-month-old babies separated from their parents revealed that their babies' cortisol levels remained high throughout the night. Thus, sleeping together regulates stress hormone levels to ensure a happier and longer night's sleep.
Not just this, but co-sleeping offers the following benefits:
Nursing Mothers Can Grab More Sleep
If you're an exhausted breastfeeding mom, you'll find it easier to lay your little one next to you during the night. This way, you can ensure minimal interruption for nighttime feedings.
It's a Historical Practice
In most cultures globally, parents share their beds with their newborns. As a result, babies feel safer, and parents are satisfied.
It Helps Your Baby Feel Secure
Many parents believe that isolating their little ones by leaving them alone at night is unfair and cruel. Other parents feel that children feel safer and secure through the night while sleeping next to their mother and father.
What are the Risks of Co-Sleeping?
It is well-known that bed-sharing increases the risks of SIDs, making it a pretty common cause of infant deaths. Despite this, research reveals that up to 67% of children sleep in the company of another person. Moreover, another study shows that 40% of parents do not co-sleep safely.
The fact is that when your baby sleeps on any surface other than a plain mattress with a tight sheet, it increases the risks of SUIDs. Adult bed mattresses, loose bedding, and soft adult size pillows can suffocate babies.
Apart from this, co-sleeping can be problematic for the following reasons:
Your Baby Can Develop Sleep Crutch
Always sleeping with an adult can become a difficult-to-break sleep onset association, i.e., something your baby will start depending on to be able to drift off.
You may find it challenging to break your child's habit as they grow.
Your Kid May Show Signs of Anxiety
Not only will your baby develop a sleep crutch, but they may also start expecting back rubbing, being held, and patting to go to sleep.
As a result, your child may start displaying anxious behaviours to convince you
to sleep next to them throughout the night.
Your Sleep Quality May Decrease
Active sleepers can disrupt your nighttime sleep by thrashing and kicking around. Allowing your little one to sleep in a different bed gives them the space they need to act out their dreams.
The Tradition of Co-Sleeping: How Should You Approach It?
If you do decide to co-sleep, you must learn the tips and tricks to ensure maximum security:
- Ensure that there are no openings from where your baby may fall out
- Avoid using loose sheets and soft pillows that can over-heat or obstruct your little one's breathing
- Don't let your children sleep with pets
- Always leave your baby on their back
- Ensure that you choose a firm sleeping surface with a tight sheet
- Consider room sharing for at least six months or a year
Tips to Remember when Co-Sleeping and Breastfeeding
Many women are afraid that they might drift off while breastfeeding their child during the night. As a result, they co-sleep without meaning to.
If this sounds like you, here are tips and tricks to remember when co-sleeping and breastfeeding:
- Avoid breastfeeding on the sofa or armchairs
- Get your special someone to stay up with you for support
- Try reading a book or watching a TV show to keep yourself awake
When Should You Not Co-Sleep with Your Baby?
You must know when you should avoid co-sleeping with your baby. Here are some instances when you shouldn't co-sleep:
- If you or your partner smokes
- If you or your special someone has drunk alcohol, drugs, or medication that makes them drowsy
- Your infant is premature
- Your baby was born underweight
- If you're sitting or lying on a sofa or armchair
AAP's recommendations reveal that you can stop co-sleeping with your little one once they turn six or 12-months-old.
The Bottom Line- Should You or Should You Not Co-Sleep with Your Little One?
Co-sleeping remains a sensitive and controversial topic for parents across the world. Whether you want to co-sleep or not depends on your beliefs and parenting style.
Room sharing can be a protective option that keeps your little one nearby instead of in the same bed. Most parents that co-parent use a bassinet or a regular crib.
You may even sleep in the same bed if you follow the aforementioned safety tips. Ensure your little one's safety by taking your time to decide the healthiest sleeping option.