Parenting seems full of endless terrifying possibilities. Danger and catastrophe lurk around every corner – and hey, is there a child safety guard on that corner?
With all of the stress of parenting, the one thing you’re always going to want more of is sleep. But even sleeping can be a point of stress, too! When you’re deciding what kind of sleeping arrangement you’re going to have with your new baby, you’re bound to get tons of advice and warnings from other parents and organizations. Before you make your choice, get all the facts first, so that you can make a fully informed decision.
What is co-sleeping? What is co-bedding?
Co-sleeping refers to sleeping in the same vicinity or room as your baby. It is often confused with co-bedding, which is when you choose to share a bed with your child or baby. Co-bedding, or bed-sharing, is indeed a form of co-sleeping. But you don’t have to engage in co-bedding if you try co-sleeping. For instance, many new parents place a crib or bassinet in their bedroom within arm’s length of the bed, so the baby is nearby but not in the same bed.
This kind of co-sleeping gets a badge of approval from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC, and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. However, tons of parents also share their bed with their children from infancy up until ten years old! While most parents don’t plan on sharing their bed with their baby, it often happens for many reasons, and, while it’s not always a bad thing, it can be very very dangerous. More on that next…
What are the benefits?
There are tons of benefits for co-sleeping, and even co-bedding! We can’t list every single one, but here’s the highlight reel:
- Co-sleeping in the same room but not the same bed decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- The close proximity makes it easier for both the baby and the parent to fall asleep at bedtime, and easier to get back to sleep if the baby wakes in the night to feed.
- Sleeping in close proximity with your baby increases the bond between parent and child, helping your baby feel more secure at night.
What are the risks?
However, there are some risks for co-sleeping, and even more risks for co-bedding. Some risks you can avoid by taking some simple precautions, but it’s important to be aware of them when deciding on a sleeping arrangement.
- The biggest risk linked to co-bedding is the link between co-bedding and SIDS. A 2013 study found that 74% of SIDS cases occurred when infants were co-bedding with parents. However, another study showed that most of those instances were due to parental intoxication, second-hand cigarette smoke, or other unsafe co-sleeping situations. Therefore, if you’re considering bed-sharing, you should make sure that you and your partner have not been drinking any alcohol, using any drugs (including prescription or over-the-counter medications), or smoke. There are other risks associated with co-bedding as well, especially when it comes to sleeping with an infant.
- Children that co-sleep with their parents may have difficulty sleeping independently, which can even create a dependency on parents later in life.
- If the sleeping situation is not prepared in advance to insure the baby’s safety, the child may suffocate due to heavy blankets, pillows, or by slipping into crevices between cushions (i.e., on a couch). This is why you should always follow instructions to create a safe co-sleeping environment.
What is recommended?
Like we mentioned earlier, most health organizations recommend co-sleeping in the same room but not in the same bed. While the child will still benefit from many of the sensory elements of co-sleeping (and you’ll benefit from more sleep!), it eliminates many of the health concerns posed by co-bedding. But every family is different, so you’ll have to figure out what works best for yours by arming yourself with knowledge! For more content, advice, and news, make sure to sign up for our email list.