What is Co-Sleeping? Every Parent Should Understand the Potential Issues06 Sep
There are only two things that every new parent wants: A baby that sleeps well, and more sleep for themselves. Co-sleeping is believed to facilitate both of these, and many families enjoy the benefits of waking up more alert after a good night’s rest. But there are some issues and dangers that every parent should be aware of when deciding to co-sleep, especially if sleeping in the same bed. Here are some recommendations for safe bed sharing if you plan on co-sleeping with your newborn.
What is Co-Sleeping?
Co-sleeping is defined as sleeping in close proximity to your baby. There are several different methods of co-sleeping, including:
- Bed-sharing, which means sleeping with baby in your bed.
- A sidecar arrangement, where a bassinet is securely attached to one side of the parents’ bed so that the baby is in arm’s reach.
- Any crib, bassinet or mattress in the same room where baby can still hear you and is close by for soothing.
The Realistic Benefits and Concerns with Co-Sleeping
Having baby in the same bed or room has benefits for baby and parents, such as easier breastfeeding. This can be especially benefial for c-section mothers who may have trouble walking far to get baby in another room at night and need to catch a few quick minutes of sleep while breastfeeding. Most of us can relate to preventing the baby from waking up too much since he/she doesn’t have to cry long to get attention, and putting the baby back to sleep drowsy helps parents and baby both fall asleep faster. Your baby also craves the security of your skin to skin contact, so that is easier with co-sleeping.
Although sleeping with baby in or near a parent’s bed has benefits, there are safety warnings that experts want parents to know. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing without bedsharing, stating that doing so decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by as much as 50%. Because infants are so vulnerable to suffocation, here are some suggestions from James J. McKenna, Ph.D., Director of the Mother/Baby Sleep Lab at University of Notre Dame, IN for co-sleeping safely:
- Very small or premature infants should not sleep in the same bed as parents. Instead, place them in a bassinet near the bed.
- Do not co-sleep if you’ve been using drugs or alcohol, or even medications that will diminish your ability to arouse when baby moves.
- Do not sleep with baby in your bed if you smoke or smoked during pregnancy since a lower oxygen level decreases baby’s ability to wake up.
- Do not place an infant on its stomach in your bed or on any other surface.
- Do not allow older children to sleep in the bed with a baby under a year old, as children do not have the same awareness as a parent does.
- Do not swaddle baby when bed-sharing, as baby may overheat which increases the risk of SIDS
- Don’t allow baby to sleep on a mattress that’s too soft. A firmer mattress is recommended.
The Infant Sleep Information Source notes that a few precautions should be taken to ensure that baby is safe on co-sleeping surfaces. They include refraining from pushing a mattress up against a wall to avoid any instance where a gap could be created between your mattress and wall, and if possible, lower your mattress or sleep on a surface on the floor to prevent roll-offs.
To ensure your child is getting the best possible rest, it’s important to know when to upgrade your child’s mattress. We’re dishing out all the facts here, “Mattress Dimensions for Everyone in Your Household.”
Co-Sleeping is a Decision That’s Different for Each Family
If you’re trying to decide whether to co-sleep with your newborn, remember that every baby and every parent is different. Sleeping with your baby in or near your bed may help you and your infant get more sleep, but the most important thing is that you both sleep safely. If you still have questions or concerns, talk to your pediatrician.
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