Co-sleeping is one of the many nighttime parenting techniques that you and your partner can choose from to help Baby develop healthy sleep patterns. When they co-sleep, a parent and child sleep within a sensory distance of each other, which means that they can touch, see, and smell each other. The two forms of co-sleeping are room-sharing and bed-sharing.
When room-sharing, parents keep a crib, bassinet, or other child’s bed in their room, often near their bed. Room-sharing is fairly common, especially early on in a baby’s life, when night-time feedings need to be frequent.
When bed-sharing, on the other hand, parents share their bed with their baby; however, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against bed sharing, since there are major concerns about accidental injury to the baby when parents are asleep, including suffocation and death. Bed-sharing is common in many non-Western cultures, where infant death rates, especially from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), are low. However, other cultural differences could have an impact on these results.
Co-sleeping is a topic with many points of view, and it has both benefits and drawbacks, but ultimately you and your family must decide what sleep style is best for you and Baby.
- Helps some babies sleep more easily
- May strengthen the bond between parent and child
- Makes nighttime breastfeeding easier
- Lengthens babies’ nighttime sleep
- Syncs mothers’ sleep cycles with their babies’ patterns
- For babies who bedshare, there’s an increased risk of suffocation and SIDS
- Decreased chances for intimacy with your partner
- Possible attachment issues
- Difficult transition to bed later in childhood
Again, a variety of U.S. medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, warn against placing infants in adult beds and bed-sharing. Doctors do, however, recommend room-sharing, however, as this reduces the risk of SIDS in infants, so long as they are safely in their own space.
- “Bed-Sharing.” March of Dimes. March of Dimes, October 2016. Web.
- “Bed Sharing Remains Greatest Risk Factor for Sleep-Related Infant Death.” American Academy of Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics, July 14 2014. Web.
- “Co-Sleeping: What’s best for you and your child?” Zero to Three. ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, February 29 2016. Web.
- “Co-Sleeping: Yes, No, Sometimes?” AskDrSears. AskDrSears.com. Web.
- “Safe Cosleeping Guidelines.” Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory, University of Notre Dame. University of Notre Dame. Web.
- “SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Expansion of Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment.” Pediatrics. 128(5). Web. November 2011.