Co-sleeping, also known as bed sharing and sleep sharing, is the practice of sleeping together as a family rather than putting your baby to sleep in a crib. Many misconceptions surround the practice of co-sleeping with a baby. Many parents think they will roll over their baby, or that co-sleeping will make their baby too dependent on them. Parents who do co-sleep often feel embarrassed about what others will think and are afraid to tell people about it. However, co-sleeping has many benefits for everyone involved. So what’s the truth about co-sleeping?
Physical Benefits of Co-sleeping
Co-sleeping with a newborn helps him regulate his breathing patterns and heart rate. It also helps him have more stable temperatures. They cry less because their needs, such as the need to be held or to eat, are met immediately. Crying releases adrenaline, which raises blood pressure, and cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. Co-sleeping can also reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Co-sleeping babies sleep mostly on their backs or sides. In a study done by D. A. Drago and A. L. Dannenberg, three times as many infant deaths occurred in cribs than in an adult bed. And SIDS rates are lowest in countries where co-sleeping is the norm.
Co-sleeping Promotes Bonding
Moms-your baby has been in your womb, as close as she can get to you, for nine months. Now that she’s out, she still needs the closeness. She knows your scent and sleeps better knowing you’re near. Dads-this is just another way for you to bond with your baby as well. You can cuddle next to her and help her fall asleep. What better way to start and end your day than to wake up next to your new family?
Co-sleeping Promotes Independence
Contrary to popular belief, co-sleeping promotes independence. A baby whose needs are met becomes confident that he will be taken care of. A baby who is left to “cry it out” at night may feel insecure and abandoned. This may make him more dependant and clingy during the day.
More Sleep for Mom, Dad and Baby
This benefit alone is often the reason many parents begin co-sleeping. Since your baby is right next to you, when he wakes up at night wanting to nurse(which can happen every 2 or 3 hours with a newborn), all you have to do is align him and feed him. With a crib sleeping infant, it will take a while before you hear him crying for food, by which time he may be all worked up and be too frantic to latch on properly. The crying may also wake up the whole house. With co-sleeping, all you have to do is latch your baby on and then you can fall back asleep. (New moms…don’t worry, you will get the hang of this!) With a crib sleeping baby you’ll need to wait until he falls asleep before gently putting him back in his crib, only to have him wake up again if you accidentally step on a creaky floorboard or close the door too loudly.