To co-sleep or not to co-sleep, that is the question. And it is indeed one of the most controversial topics about parenting. There is definitely a lot to say about the benefits of co-sleeping. However; you will have people shame you, and you will have people praise you for bed-sharing.
There are many studies that show one is better than the other. So we’re going to go over some of the pros and cons of co-sleeping and bed-sharing.
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Benefits of Co-Sleeping
1. It makes breastfeeding SO much easier
As a mom, you’re tired as it is. Having to breastfeed in the middle of the night adds to that exhaustion. But it is a little easier to breastfeed if you’re bed-sharing because you don’t have to get up or leave the room.
Statistics actually show that mom’s who co-sleep tend to breastfeed longer, thanks to the convenience. Also, breastfeeding while bed-sharing is WAY more safe than having to get up and breastfeed in a chair or on the sofa, as the risk of SIDS drastically goes up, do to moms falling asleep in an unsafe position while nursing.
Be sure to check out our breastfeeding page with tons of helpful advice for breastfeeding your baby!
2. Better sleep for mom
This is one of the best benefits of co-sleeping. I’m sure many people are confused by this because you would think that sharing a bed with a little person that kicks and turns and cries, would make you sleep worse. But for a lot of moms, that’s simply not the case.
Not being able to see your baby causes just enough worry to keep you up at night. You wonder why they haven’t woken up for a feeding, or you stress about whether they’ve rolled onto their tummy, or if they’re still breathing okay, the worry is endless.
There was a time that I tried to crib train my daughter, and she did okay until between twelve and two in the morning, and then she’d wake up. Every night. So I would lay there and try to sleep but I just knew that she would wake up soon, so I would end up staying awake until midnight, and I would try to sleep but I knew she would be awake any minute. Any minute often turned into two hours. So I wasted a lot of sleep doing that. When I gave up and went back to co-sleeping, I slept so much better. Being able to see her, and check on her easily allowed me to relax.
3. Faster response time – Better sleep for baby
Being able to get to your baby faster is good for a few reasons. One, you don’t have to fully get up and walk around, so it’s easier to get back to sleep after comforting your baby.
They aren’t crying for as long, so they don’t wake up as much either. But also, you can recognize if there is a problem sooner.
For instance, the other night my daughter was laying next to me, sleeping for the last two hours. I reached over and brushed her hair out of her face and she was burning up! She hadn’t had a fever at all that day. So I was able to give her some Tylenol right away and get her fever down pretty fast. That’s one of the many examples of times I was grateful that she was right next to me.
4. Room sharing can reduce the risk of SIDS
Studies have shown that sleeping in the same room as your baby can reduce the risk of SIDS significantly. However, studies also show that bedsharing can increase the risk of SIDS.
So, if you want to reap the benefits of room-sharing while still co-sleeping, purchase a co-sleeper! There are styles that connect to the bed, and there are types that go directly into the bed. And this one has a nightlight and folds nicely for travel!
The Disadvantages of Co-Sleeping
1. Co-sleeping in an unsafe manner can increase the risk of SIDS
This is a hard one because there are studies that show that co-sleeping increases the risk of SIDS and there are studies that suggest the opposite. One thing for certain is that co-sleeping in unsafe places, such as the couch or a chair, definitely increases the risk. But some researchers say that bed-sharing, with safety precautions, reduces the risk of SIDS.
2. Less intimacy
It is definitely hard to maintain the same sex life you had prior to having a baby, especially if that baby is in your bed! There’s just something that doesn’t feel right while you’re trying to be intimate with your baby right next to you.
After all that time you spent getting them the sleep, you sure as heck don’t want to wake them to move them out of the bed.
3. It makes for a harder transition
When the time comes to stop co-sleeping, it’s going to be a much harder transition than if you would have trained them to sleep separately in the first place.
Sadly, you won’t know just how hard it’s going to be until it happens. And the transition won’t just be hard on your baby, it will be hard on you. You’ll miss your baby waking up and snuggling up next to you. And you’ll miss the secure feeling of them being right next to you throughout the night. It’s hard on everyone.
Tips for Co-Sleeping Safely
1. Try half & half
This is an excellent way of compromising! You can put the baby to sleep in their separate room or bed, and then bring them into your bed halfway through the night.
I put my baby to sleep at 8:30, she will sleep soundly until about 11:00. So until then, I do some cleaning, catching up on t.v., or have some mommy and daddy time! She usually wakes up before I fall asleep, so I bring her into my bed, and then we both pass out for the rest of the night. Win-win!
2. Safe co-sleeping
If you do decide to co-sleep, do it safely! A few things you should be doing to ensure safe bed sharing is to sleep on a firm surface, with plenty of room for your baby.
Don’t give your baby pillows, blankets, or toys. Don’t ever bed share if you’re under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medications that affect your sleep or motor skills.
If you want to bed share but still want to take extra safety precautions, you can purchase a bassinet that attaches to your bed, so they are near but still have plenty of their own space. Or you could use a pack ‘n’ play that has the bassinet attachment, I loved mine!
Also, when your baby is still little, you can buy a co-sleeper that sits in your bed, but still has a slight barrier around the baby. This co-sleeper is awesome! It has a night light on the top, and it folds up nicely for travel. Seriously… it’s great.
We hope you found the benefits of co-sleeping helpful while making your decision.
Whether you decide to co-sleep or crib train, you know what’s best for your baby! So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Do you co-sleep? Or crib train? Let us know what you prefer and why!
To learn more about safe sleep for your baby, be sure to check out this article by AAP on safe sleep!
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