Co-sleeping basically refers to a baby or child sleeping with their parent or parents. Co-sleeping takes various forms such as:
- When the child shares the bed with the parents.
- When the baby sleeps in either a crib or bassinet in the same room as the parents.
- When the baby sleeps in a crib that is attached to one side of the bed and can be adjusted to different levels. This is also known as sidecar arrangement.
- When the baby sleeps in his own room but is welcomed when they come to sleep in their parent’s bed especially at night if the child is disturbed.
Benefits of Co-sleeping with your baby
- Your baby tends to be safer and secure when he sleeps next to you as this decrease the separation anxiety that comes with the baby having to sleep alone away from the parents.
- Sleep times are generally better both for baby and mother since the mother sleeps easily knowing her baby is just an arm’s length away. It is easier to check on the baby regularly during the night without having to get up from the bed every time. It makes nighttime feeding and changing easier and less disruptive to the baby.
- Co-sleeping helps to sync the sleeping patterns of both baby and mother and this helps to develop comfortable nursing schedules.
- The parents are able to monitor the baby more effectively during times of illnesses and fussy babies tend to fall asleep faster and sleep better with their parents nearby. Should the baby wake up at night, it is easier for them to go back to sleep again.
- For households limited in space, co-sleeping arrangements work better.
Disadvantages of co-sleeping with your baby
- There is a higher likelihood of the child suffocating or getting strangulated when he or she is sharing a bed with others.
- Sleeping with the baby can expose them to infections that are contagious.
- Co-sleeping with the baby tends to create a dependency on the parents which makes it difficult to transition the baby to sleep on their own.
- The sudden or constant movements of the baby usually make mothers unable to sleep well as they wake up constantly thus disturbing their sleep pattern.
- Parents who have habits such as smoking, drinking or drug abuse should not co-sleep with the baby as this exposes the baby to serious health risks.
Parents who are taking heavy medication or are in therapy should not co-sleep with the baby as they are less alert.
- Co-sleeping with a baby deprives a couple of intimacy.
Tips for co-sleeping with your baby
- The baby should always sleep on their back as this lowers the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in babies. If you nurse your baby on her side, after feeding ensure she lies on her back.
- The baby should sleep slighter higher than you with bed sheets tightly tucked in the mattress and blankets should not cover her face. Ensure the bed is big enough.
- Dress the baby adequately. Leave baby’s head uncovered as co-sleeping raises body temperature.