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The Pros and Cons of Co-Sleeping with Babies

sep 19 parents co-sleeping with babyCo-sleeping with infants and small children has been on the rise for the past 20 years in the United States, and it’s especially common for families with babies who aren’t yet sleeping through the night. Sharing a family bed or bedroom to simplify nighttime nursing and to comfort young children is common in cultures around the world. But is it right for your family? Understanding the pros and cons will help you make an informed decision to make sure every member of your young family gets the rest they need to thrive.

While some families choose to share a bed every night, others may bring a baby into the bed only sometimes. For example, a mother nursing an infant in the middle of the night may prefer to co-sleep with a crib attached to the bed for convenience, and both she and the baby may be able to drift off more quickly if they don’t have to get up.

The Benefits of Co-Sleeping

While some families choose to share a bed every night, others may bring a baby into the bed only sometimes. For example, a mother nursing an infant in the middle of the night may prefer to co-sleep with a crib attached to the bed for convenience, and both she and the baby may be able to drift off more quickly if they don’t have to get up.

Family sleep.jpgCo-sleeping mothers and infants tend to sync up their sleep cycles, which means that they slumber and stir at the same time. This helps mothers get more restful sleep in the early months when infants wake often and need to nurse. Breastfeeding mothers can conveniently feed their babies while dozing and avoid turning on bright light, all of which can help mothers and babies to fall back to sleep more quickly. Many parents also enjoy the increased intimacy and bonding time with their babies, especially if they work outside of the home for extended periods.

The Drawbacks of Co-Sleeping

The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend sharing a bed with infants but instead supports having a separate crib or bassinet in the same room. This recommendation is to reduce the likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and the dangers of accidently suffocating an infant in a large bed. Some couples also find that sharing a bed with a child reduces their opportunities for intimacy with each other and a mental break from parenting for themselves.

Safe Co-Sleeping

If you choose to try co-sleeping, it’s important to do so safely. Adults in the bed should not take any sedatives or medications that could cause them to be unable to awaken for the baby’s needs. Extremely obese parents should avoid co-sleeping, and parents with very long hair should secure it before bed to eliminate a strangling hazard. Adult beds aren’t designed for infants, so consider using a firm mattress and adding rails to prevent falls. A baby co-sleeper bed that sit atop your mattress is a great solution to give the baby a safe space that’s right next to you.

Co-sleeping is ultimately a highly personal choice for families, and what works for your neighbor or sister may not be right for you. You may decide that a separate crib is ideal, or you might prefer a bedside co-sleeper. You might decide to continue co-sleeping into the toddler years because you enjoy the bonding experience, or you may stop once your baby is sleeping through the night. Work with your partner and pediatrician to make safe, smart decisions that work for everyone so you can get a good night’s rest.

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