Is Co-Sleeping a Good Idea? The Pros & Cons of Sleeping with your Baby
If you’re wondering if co-sleeping is a good idea for your family, first learn the different forms of co-sleeping, the risks of co-sleeping and how it could impact your relationship.
A hot topic among parents seems to be co-sleeping. Specifically, previous scientific linked bed-sharing to some instances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) while other evidence shows that co-sleeping is a good idea in order to promote infant development and build the relationship between mother and baby through nighttime nursing. While it’s largely debated around the world, it might have you wondering: is co-sleeping a good idea for my family? After reading about the pros and cons of sleeping with your baby, hopefully you and your partner will find it easier to make that decision.
What is Co-Sleeping?
First of all, co-sleeping is widely misunderstood to be synonymous with bed-sharing or creating “the family bed.” Instead, co-sleeping can mean several things. It could mean you sleep with the baby IN the bed with you, you sleep with the baby in a separate bed but in the same bedroom or you sleep with the baby directly next to the bed in a crib or bassinet attached to the bed. Each form of co-sleeping may have its own pros and cons that go along with statistics and doctor recommendations. Ultimately, it comes down to a personal choice and preference.
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Although we can’t locate specific statistics about all co-sleeping arrangements, one study learned that bed sharing with infants is on the rise. As of 2015, about 24% of parents chose to share a bed with their baby, compared to only 6% in 1993. Bed sharing is the most controversial form of co-sleeping, but it’s believed to be practiced by about 40% of the world and is often viewed as a cultural tradition.
The Pros of Co-Sleeping with your Baby
Studies have shown that co-sleeping improves child development. By simply sharing your room with the baby, they learn to respond to sensory signals and further develop their senses. It also creates a deeper bond between parents and child, allowing them to spend even more time together and reduce how often either parent has to get out of bed. Overall, couples who co-sleep can actually get more sleep.
Here are the best pros of co-sleeping:
- Parents (and babies!) tend to get more sleep because the baby is close by
- Breastfeeding is easier for nursing mothers when the baby is in the room, and nursing at night can help maintain your milk supply
- Increases opportunities for both parents to bond with baby
- Eliminates nighttime separation anxiety
- Room sharing (not bed-sharing) may reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%
The Cons of Co-Sleeping with your Baby
Alternatively, there are cons to co-sleeping, especially when it comes to bed-sharing with an infant. For example, there’s an increased risk of SIDS in a shared bed, and it can create a falling hazard, possibility of suffocation and risk of overheating. Many also argue that co-sleeping can impact your romantic relationship and reduce your feeling of privacy. It also is not recommended that you allow an infant to sleep in the bed with other children, who may not wake up as easily as an adult if there were to be a problem.
Ultimately, these are the cons of co-sleeping:
- Increased risk of SIDS for bed sharing (compared to a reduced risk with room sharing)
- Possibility of suffocation from the pillows, loose bedding, etc. in a shared family bed
- Risk of overheating when the baby is receiving heat from the parents and textiles in a shared bed
- Potential falling hazard when any co-sleeping bed does not have railings or barriers
- Parents may wake up more frequently with co-sleeping, particularly in a shared bed
- May create more dependent children who will have difficulty transitioning to sleeping alone
- Reduces feeling of privacy and potentially the couple’s romantic relationship
When is Co-Sleeping a Good Idea?
Simply put, doctors don’t recommend bed sharing but room-sharing is often encouraged. Every parenting team needs to find what works for them because not every sleep situation will be the same. Keep in mind that transitions may be hard, so setting an early precedent could make it harder to transition children to a separate bed or separate room in the future. However, co-sleeping in the form of room-sharing can be very beneficial to your relationship with the baby as well as their health and development. We encourage you to research the options further and consult your doctor!
Do you think co-sleeping is a good idea, and in what form? Have you and your partner tried it?