Co-Sleeping – Benefits & Safety 

co-sleep·ing
ˌkōˈslēpiNG/
noun
  1. the practice of sleeping in the same bed with one’s infant or young child.
    “co-sleeping often facilitates a good breastfeeding relationship”

In today’s day & age it’s insane to think something like co-sleeping could still be frowned upon. Unfortunately, many people still have a negative (usually an uninformed) opinion about the matter. Usually the negative opinions are based on old studies, false information, or possibly even too much caring what other people are doing instead of worrying about one’s own self. 😉

Isn’t what’s most important is that baby is safe while baby and mama are getting as much sleep as possible?

And that everyone is entitled to what works best in their own family household for their own most abundant family wellness?

I wish those that were against co-sleeping would do some honest research on the benefits before having an opinion so then they could make a valid and informed decision. Even those that are aware of the benefits don’t have to think co-sleeping is best, and that’s okay. It’s certainly not for everyone.

Whatever works for your family is what’s best for your family. 

Dream Big Little Man

{Note: I’m going to use the word Mama in regards to who baby is sleeping next to. I’m not intentionally leaving Dad out. Dad can most definitely be baby’s co-sleeping partner too, but for easier writing, I’m just going to use Mama instead of both each time}

For a briefing of info, co-sleeping lowers the risk of SIDS greatly! It helps baby mature its breathing patterns, regulates heart rate and helps baby to be aware that someone is close by, helping to not fall into that ‘too deep of sleep’ phase where SIDS is a risk. It helps mama be more aware of baby and to be able to respond more quickly. It also diminishes any possible night-time fear of waking up alone. By the time mama may get to baby in another room, baby is now wide awake and usually upset. (speaking from motherhood round 1)

Right from our time in the hospital I realized neither Draevyn or I wanted to sleep alone. This is completely normal. We just spent the last 9 months attached to one another, some separation anxiety isn’t unusual. I did try him in the bassinet beside the bed but he wouldn’t stay asleep and I didn’t even bother trying, so I brought him into my bed. I did the same when we got home but every time I laid him down alone, he woke up. If he did stay asleep for a short amount of time, I  would stay awake, worrying. Rocking the cradle, making sure he was breathing, making sure he wasn’t too hot, too cold. I was a wreck. When he wouldn’t settle I tried swaddling, no swaddling, swaying the bassinet, playing the music on his mobile, he just did not want to be there. When I picked him up, he’d quiet himself and become calm in my arms right away.

I needed him close and he needed me.

Of course baby doesn’t want to sleep alone, they are used to your warmth, hearing your heartbeat, being surrounded by you. Baby just wants comfort & to trust that they are safe and protected.

Don’t stand unmoving outside the door of a crying baby who’s only desire is to touch you. Go to your baby. Go to your baby a million times.

– Peggy O’Mara

Some people say, ‘you don’t choose co-sleeping, co-sleeping chooses you’. This is so true. Some people are just so tired, they give it a go, and it works! Ahhh, glorious sleep! Others, like me, (and baby) just couldn’t stand the feeling of being too far apart.

Benefits of Co-Sleeping:

It’s actually recommended baby sleeps within proximity to their parents until at least 6 months of age.

• More Uninterrupted Sleep / Both Mama & Baby Sleeps Better

Co-sleeping promotes longer intervals of uninterrupted sleep. When baby starts to stir, mama is right there to comfort baby right away so there isn’t that stage of crying to get your attention.

When you have to get up out of bed to feed baby, it may take quite some time for you both to drift back to sleep. (Whether you breast or bottle feed) I remember this with Neveyden, even though we room shared, he was across the room in his own bed. He’d wake, I’d get up, get him up, go to the kitchen, fetch a hopefully pre-made bottle from the fridge, warm it up (all the while baby is getting more and more upset) settle in some place comfy, calm baby, feed baby, burp baby, then attempt to get him back in his bed without waking him & if successful, laying there myself trying to fall back asleep. I quickly turned into a robot zombie.

Contrast co-sleeping with the crib and nursery scene. The separate sleeper awakens – alone and behind bars. He is out of touch. He first squirms and whimpers. Still out of touch. Separation anxiety sets in, baby becomes scared, and the cry escalates into an all-out wail or plea for help. This piercing cry awakens even the most long distance mother, who jumps up (sometimes out of the state of deep sleep, which is what leads to most nighttime exhaustion), and staggers reluctantly down the hall. By the time mother reaches the baby, baby is wide awake and upset, mother is wide awake and upset, and the comforting that follows becomes a reluctant duty rather than an automatic nurturant response. It takes longer to resettle an upset solo sleeper than it does a half-asleep baby who is sleeping within arm’s reach of mother. Once baby does fall asleep, mother is still wide-awake and too upset to resettle easily. If, however, the baby is sleeping next to mother and they have their sleep cycles in sync, most mothers and babies can quickly resettle without either member of the co-sleeping pair fully awakening. Being awakened suddenly and completely from a state of deep sleep to attend to a hungry or frightened baby is what leads to sleep-deprived parents and fearful babies. – Ask Dr. Sears

I nurse this time around, which makes things much easier. With Draevyn, I literally feed him when he starts to stir, neither of us fully open our eyes, and we both drift back to sleep. Done and done. SO much better. If it weren’t for this, the both of us would get very little sleep. I’m so happy I’ve learned new things in my 10 years of being a mama. When I was that new mom 10 years ago, I was exhausted – ALL. THE. TIME! I’m not going to lie and say I’m never tired now but it’s nice to have a more refreshed amount of awake time. I was a little scared to have a new baby again, thinking it was going to be the same way. It’s not at all. You live, You learn. And learning what works for you and your family is going to be something different for everyone.

• Reduces the risk of SIDS

Sleeping near mama helps baby regulate a breathing pattern because they imitate their mothers’ breathing cycle. Mama is more likely to respond to baby faster with any stirring and mother’s awareness of her infant during sleep helps heighten baby’s sleep alertness / arousal response.

According to sleep researcher James McKenna, co-sleeping increases the chances that a parent can successfully intervene to help prevent a death, whether that is due to a physiological condition or to a physical accident. He reminds parents that “co-sleeping gives the parent the best opportunity to hear the baby in crisis and to respond.” He adds that “since protection from SIDS may be related to the frequency and duration of breastfeeding, and because babies breastfeed more when co-sleeping, this practice may help to protect some breastfeeding infants.” – Dr. Momma’s 10 Reasons to Sleep by your Child. 

DR. SEARS SIDS HYPOTHESIS:

I believe that in most cases SIDS is a sleep disorder, primarily a disorder of arousal and breathing control during sleep. All the elements of natural mothering, especially breastfeeding and sharing sleep, benefit the infant’s breathing control and increase the mutual awareness between mother and infant so that their arousability is increased and the risk of SIDS decreased.

• Breastfeeding is easier

Makes nursing quicker and easier & helps you both get more sleep. We side nurse and sleep. Either him cradled in my arm, or beside me on his own.

• Promotes bonding

Learning baby’s cues, and spending quiet time together is very beneficial for you both. Some of our most precious moments happen at 3 or 5 in the morning. Everyone is still sleeping, it’s still dark, or the sun may just be coming up and baby decides it’s a great time to coo at me and wake me up. I open my eyes to his beautiful smile and we chat awhile before going back to sleep.

Safety Ideas: 

Some people are unable to co-sleep safely, if you move about in your sleep it’s probably not a good idea to sleep next to baby on the same surface.

The benefits of co-sleeping can be accomplished without physically sharing the same sleeping surface. The idea is to have baby within arms reach.

Tips from Safe Sleep for You and Your Baby – Uppity Science Chick

To keep your baby safe, NEVER sleep with your baby if you, your partner, or anyone who sleeps with your baby:

• Have had more than one alcoholic beverage,

• Have taken medicine that makes you sleepy (such as medicines for pain, colds or allergies, or a cough),

• Smoke or allow others to smoke around your baby (Second-hand smoke increases your baby’s risk of SIDS),

• Are overly tired or heavy sleepers,

• Have had any illegal drugs, or

• Have other children or pets in your bed.

NEVER sleep with your baby on a couch or sofa. Your baby can roll out of your arms, become trapped and suffocate.

NEVER sleep with your baby on a sagging or soft mattress, waterbed, or on a mattress pushed against the wall or a piece of furniture. Your baby could become trapped here too and suffocate (Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, 2008; UNICEF, 2005).

How to Safely Sleep Near Your Baby Here are some steps you can take to help your baby stay safe while sleeping.

• Always place your baby on her back to sleep in visual distance of a responsible adult.

• Wherever your baby sleeps, the mattress should be firm, flat and clean.

• Keep your baby in your room for at least the first six months.

• Remove pillows, stuffed toys, quilts and fluffy comforters.

• Dress your baby in a one-piece sleeper to avoid having a blanket in your baby’s face.

• Be sure that your baby is not overheated.

• Side-car

You could always push the crib up against the side of your bed (& strap in place) like a side-car. Some people also take the facing rail off so it’s wide open to your bed.

Check out this DIY Co-Sleeping Crib by Amanda Medlin

IMG_4047b

Brilliant!

You could even purchase one of these Arms Reach Co Sleeper Beds. (amazon.ca search list)

• Mattress on the floor

Having a mattress on the floor can be one of the safest options in co-sleeping. This way when baby starts to roll they aren’t going to fall far onto the floor. You can even roll up blankets beside the bed just in case. Lots of family’s will push 2 mattresses together on the floor. (baby’s crib mattress next to yours.)

• Pool noodle tucked under fitted sheet to create a barrier on the edge of the bed.

This is okay for when kids don’t move about too much. I tried this method and unless the fitted sheet is super tight, the noodle slips down the side of the bed if it’s kicked.

 Bed rail

You can purchase universal bed rails that attach to almost any bed frame or ones that safely tuck under your mattress to keep them in place. You could even create one from recycled bunk bed rails. (link to Amazon.ca search)

In conclusion, it’s important to know the facts before making a judgement. The benefits far outweigh the whole argument that some people have about the kids getting “used” to it. A child gets used to the breast, a bottle, a sippy cup, a crib, a toddler bed, a playpen, a bouncy chair, milk to cereal to food.. You can wean a child from anything. If it’s a safety argument, then yes, I agree you should definitely practice as safe as possible sleep arrangements & refer to the list above for some tips & ideas.

There are many different sleep arrangements: Co-sleeping, bed sharing / family bed, sleeping in the same room with your baby in their own bed, bassinet, or side sleeper, baby in their own room, etc. (you get the point) I’m not trying to imply that one way is better than the other. Each family is different and different things will work at different times, and different stages. Whatever works for your family is best. I just wanted to share my opinion on what some still view as taboo. I think whatever helps you get the most sleep in the long run is especially important.

Try to remember, the small amount of time will be a cherished memory in the future. Before you know it, they are grown and don’t want hugs, kisses or cuddles anymore. ^_^


Answer Anonymously: Check all that apply & feel free to add your own answers. Share your thoughts in the comments on the poll or post itself. Thank you!

Co-Sleeping Benefits and Safety

Helpful Links & Sources:

 Attachment Parenting’s Guide to Infant Sleep Safety.

• Baby Sleep Resource Page – Dr. Momma (*lots of good links)

• Safety guide

• Original president of SIDS Foundation says co-sleeping is safe

• Co-Sleeping: Yes, No, Sometimes? Ask Dr. Sears

This is a FANTASTIC read! He and his colleagues have done extensive studies on co-sleeping & lists in great detail many of the benefits including how mom acts like a pace-maker to baby. I think everyone should read it.

Were it not for Hayden, many of our books might never have been written. Hayden hated her crib. Finally one night, out of sheer exhaustion my wife, Martha, brought Hayden into our bed. From that night on we all slept better. We slept so happily together that we did it for four years, until the next baby was born!

Soon after we ventured into this “daring” sleeping arrangement, I consulted baby books for advice. Big mistake! They all preached the same old tired theme: Don’t take your baby into your bed. Martha said, “I don’t care what the books say, I’m tired and I need some sleep!” We initially had to get over all those worries and warnings about manipulation and terminal nighttime dependency. You’re probably familiar with the long litany of “you’ll-be-sorry” reasons. Well, we are not sorry; we’re happy.

• Seven Benefits of CoSleeping

• 10 Reasons to Sleep by Your Child

• Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone

• Co Sleeping resources from ABC kids

Most Importantly: Please do your own safety research. This blog post is simply my opinion, views and research on the topic. 

co sleeping

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