On the fence about sharing a bed with your baby or toddler? Here's everything you need to know about co-sleeping and bed-sharing
Co-sleeping: some people think it’s one of the best things about parenting, while others think it’s a big no-no. It’s a topic that’s sure to send any mum group into a tizzy — it’s almost as controversial as talking about politics and religion. If you’re new to the parenting game and thinking about what stance you should take on co-sleeping, here’s what you need to know:
4 things you need to know about co-sleeping:
1. What it really means
Here’s where it gets confusing: many people interchange bed-sharing with co-sleeping, when they’re actually two different things. Bed-sharing, or ‘sleep-sharing’ as renowned pediatrician Dr Sears likes to call it, is when the baby actually sleeps in the same bed as their parents. Co-sleeping means sharing the same room as one’s parents, not necessarily sharing the same bed. But if you want to be technical about it, co-sleeping is the practice of keeping babies within “sensory range” of their caregivers — who knew?
2.What do the experts think?
The Lullaby Trust, a UK organisation dedicated to safe sleeping, says that babies should always be in the same room as their parents for the first six months for sleep, day and night. The American Academy of Pediatrics, however, recommend keeping babies in the same room during the night until they’re 1 year old. However, the AAP also says that bed-sharing could be “hazardous under certain conditions”.
3. Why co-sleep?
Everyone sleeps better: Who wouldn’t want to cuddle in bed with their baby? It’s a very natural thing, says Dr Sears, and helps mums and babies achieve what he calls nighttime harmony, where both are able to get their sleep cycles in sync. And mums everywhere can agree that sleep is a big issue, especially with younger children.
Breastfeeding becomes a breeze: If you’re breastfeeding, co-sleeping might be the best solution. It allows you to be at the ready when bub’s ready to feed, allowing them (and you) to easily drift back to sleep when they’re done.
It reduces the risk of SIDS: In Asian and Scandinavian countries where co-sleeping is the norm, the rate of SIDS is lower since babies are kept at a safe distance so parents can spot any breathing problems in a pinch.
It’s important for their emotional development: In this study, it shows that co-sleeping children were found to be more self-reliant and independent compared to those who weren’t.
4. Why some disagree
It might not be safe: There are so many no-no’s when it comes to choosing a safe sleeping space for bub. According to The Lullaby Trust, the space needs to be clear — no pillows, no cushions or bumpers — at all times. And for some parents, even knowing what precautions to take isn’t enough to quell their fears about bedsharing.
Parents need their own space: Some parents believe that sharing a bed with their children might hinder intimacy. They also think that parents should be entitled to their own private, personal space where they can get their me-time. Kids get enough attention as it is! Also, for parents who are light sleepers, having the baby in another room could be a complete game changer.
Whichever way you decide to go, practicing safe sleep is always key. Babies need to be on their BACK for every sleep in a CLEAR, FLAT, SMOKE-FREE SLEEP SPACE (see above). Also, think about what will work best for your family. Every family is different, and things that don’t work for some might work for others.
If you feel that both you and bub will sleep better together, then by all means, go for it — but consider the hazards that come with bed-sharing. If you’re more comfortable with having your baby in another room, make sure you follow the safe-sleep rules. You’ve got this!
Sweet dreams (to you both)!