When it comes to taking care of babies, co-sleeping is a hotly debated topic. Although it has been used for millennia, is it safe? How safe is it to co-sleep, and what are the potential dangers? Before deciding whether or not co-sleeping is best for your infant, it's crucial to get all the information you can. If you're debating whether or not to sleep next to your newborn, this article will help you weigh the information and make a decision. We will delve into the pros and cons of co-sleeping and offer advice on how to do it safely. Understanding the facts is essential for making a decision that is best for you and your baby, whether you choose to co-sleep or not.
What is Co-Sleeping?
Babies and young children who "co-sleep" do not sleep in their own room, but rather in the same bed as one or both of their parents. When people co-sleep, they are close enough to each other that they can feel and hear each other's presence. This proximity could be triggered by smell, taste, noise, or touch. Accordingly, the people in the room can have an effect on one another even if they are separated by distance in the same room. Co-sleeping is popular in countries around the world, and common among a sizable minority in others, even in places where cribs are more commonly used.
What do Pediatricians Say About Co-Sleeping?
Little is known about what precise recommendations specified by the American Academy of Pediatrics pediatricians give to parents concerning the risks of bed-sharing with newborns, despite the prevalence of such risks. But in a research conducted, When asked if they usually mention bed-sharing as a topic in anticipatory guidance, and if so, what they advise parents about it, responses varied greatly.
There are those who warn parents repeatedly about the dangers of letting their children sleep in their beds. Some doctors say that sharing a bed is not only beneficial but also safe. A third set of people let parental worries determine the direction of anticipatory advice. Pediatricians are more unanimous in their advice to put babies to sleep supine than they are in their advice to not share beds.
Benefits of Co-Sleeping
In the past, many parents thought that co-sleeping is the same as bed-sharing. But it’s a good thing nowadays that they’re finally able to understand that co-sleeping doesn’t always mean being in the same bed with your child. Separate-surface co-sleeping is recommended by several medical specialists in the United States. For example, putting the baby in a bassinet or a small crib close to the bed. With that being said, let’s take a look at the benefits of co-sleeping with your baby:
- Babies and their caregivers (parents) retain a physiological connection long after birth, and when this tie is nurtured, infants thrive. For instance, breastfeeding (and how you hold your baby close to you while they're nursing) promotes optimal development of the brain and their health. Co-sleeping mothers have an easier time breastfeeding their babies during the night, which has been shown to enhance the duration of breastfeeding.
- A baby's body temperature is more likely to remain stable if they are kept close to an adult's body. Babies benefit from intimate co-sleeping because it allows them to breathe more regularly and grow faster. They are also able to use their energy more efficiently and experience less stress.
- Many parents choose to sleep with their baby in close proximity because doing so helps their babies fall asleep easily or faster, which in turn benefits the parents' rest.
- You don't have to get out of bed and go to your baby's room if you need to tend to them in the middle of the night. Parents of newborns who co-sleep are almost always well rested, compared to those who put their babies in a separate room.
- Some research indicates that babies who sleep with their parents are less likely to experience anxiety, have higher levels of self-esteem, and are more affectionate.
- For some parents, having their babies close to them offers them peace of mind.
Disadvantages of Co-Sleeping
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics' new safe sleeping guidelines from June 2022, parents should never put their baby to sleep in their bed. This is due to the increased risk of suffocation, SIDS, and other sleep-related deaths. The risks are also higher when parents choose to sleep with their babies on the sofa, sleeping with their babies the entire night, if the baby is below 98 days old, and most especially if the parents drink alcohol and smoke.
According to the director of the behavioral sleep program, Dr. Lynelle Schneeberg, the benefits of co-sleeping pale in comparison to the necessity of fostering self-reliant, confident young children as some of the dangers of co-sleeping extends beyond physical safety. For example, it’s possible that your child will develop a ‘sleep crutch,” meaning they can’t fall asleep when they’re parents are not around.
Another disadvantage of co-sleeping is displaying anxious behaviors. Children who co-sleep with their parents also expect the usual sleep routine they’re used to such as parents rubbing their backs or being held close so they can fall asleep. These can be misdiagnosed as anxious behaviors.
Your partner’s sleep quality may also suffer. Usually, one parent may end up sleeping elsewhere, especially when their sleep is disturbed by the baby waking up for feeding. This can also put a toll on your relationship as you’ll have little to no time for intimacy.
Co-sleeping may offer your baby a natural way to fall asleep and stay asleep. However, despite the benefits mentioned above, co-sleeping can also have some serious drawbacks. Here are some things to keep in mind as you decide whether or not to co-sleep with your newborn.
Research suggests that co-sleeping, especially bed sharing, is not necessarily safer for babies than sleeping in a separate room or on a separate surface. It can lead to sleep-related deaths. You and your baby's sleep patterns are the best indicators of safety. If you think your baby might be keeping you up at night, then you should consider other sleep options other than co-sleeping.