Co-Sleeping With Your Baby: What You Should Know
Little Yawn Collective - Jan 07, 2022
It goes without saying that babies are cute.
Their squishy little bodies, bright twinkly eyes, and toothless cheeky smiles can melt just about anyone's heart in a matter of seconds. From the adorable babbles and wet spit bubbles to the copious amounts of drool, although they can sometimes be quite icky, a baby's cuteness is indisputably a force to be reckoned with.
In fact, babies are so cute, it's often difficult for many parents to resist the urge to cuddle up next to their snuggly tot in bed. And while we really can't blame them, the truth is that co-sleeping with your baby can be extremely dangerous and can facilitate poor sleeping behavior.
A tale as old as time, the co-sleeping battle is one that has divided experts and parents for years. Some say it's harmless and innocent — after all, what's sweeter than cuddling up next to your baby all night? — while others avoid it like the plague. Confused? Don't worry, Little Yawn Collective is here to help.
In this post, we're exploring the cuddly world of co-sleeping to teach you everything you should know about snoozing next to your tiny tot and how to create a safe sleeping environment. From disadvantages to advantages and the best tips to promote sleep safety, we've got quite a bit to uncover, so let's get started!
Should I Co-Sleep with My Baby?
To sleep with your baby or to not sleep with your baby— that is the question. As for the answer? Well, it's a bit convoluted. But fret not, parents! We're here to empower you and build confidence to establish safe bedtime routines that lead to a good night’s sleep. With safety in mind, we'll give you the scoop on co-sleeping to help you decide whether a family bed is something you want to embrace or not.
That being said, what the heck is co-sleeping, anyway?
In a nutshell, co-sleeping is the practice of sharing the same sleeping space as your baby. Also known as bed-sharing and not to be confused with room-sharing (more on that later!), co-sleeping can be defined as sleeping on the same surface — not just a bed — with your infant, such as a chair, sofa, or couch.
The Disadvantages of Co-Sleeping
The controversy surrounding co-sleeping has caused many parents to feel the need to keep their parenting choices a secret from those around them.
However, despite the secrecy, a recent study found that an unbelievably high number of parents embrace the practice at least some of the time. So, if co-sleeping is one of your little secrets — you're definitely not alone.
That being said, just because it's something that "all the parents are doing," it doesn't necessarily mean it's safe. Here are some of the disadvantages of co-sleeping with your baby:
Understanding Potential Risks
According to the experts over at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), sharing a bed with your little buddy may increase some potential dangers.
Choosing to avoid cosleeping can be a main method of keeping your baby safe from potential dangers.
Bed Sharing as a Sleep Crutch
Constantly having a parent around at bedtime can not only pose a danger to your baby’s wellbeing, it can also lead to a strong sleep onset association. Also called a sleep crutch, this is something your little buddy can't drift off to la-la land without.
For parents, it may seem sweet at first that your tiny tot simply can't fall asleep without you present, but with every passing month, this habit will become much harder to break, leading to more frequent night waking and other sleep problems. Eventually, your child may not be able to sleep alone, period.
Seeing as most co-sleepers don't become cooperative about catching zzzs in their own bed until around six to eight years old, if you cherish sprawling out beneath the sheets next to your S.O. — we advise that you don't start co-sleeping with your baby!
Diminishing Sleep Quality
Cute and cuddly as it may sound, co-sleeping can also be majorly disruptive.
Yes, a sleeping baby is undeniably precious and angelic in slumber. Still, their little legs and tiny arms like to flair around like a wacky inflatable tube man during a hurricane. These midnight baby aerobatics can be entertaining to watch, but not when you're desperately trying to get some much-needed shut-eye (or have a huge presentation first thing in the morning).
Remember, quality rest is critical for good health, not just for your baby —but you, too.
The Advantages of Co-Sleeping
After hearing all of those disadvantages, you might want nothing to do with co-sleeping. And we don't blame you — after all, research has shown that the risk of SIDS is five times greater when parents sleep with their infant.
But before kicking the controversial practice completely to the curb, we suggest checking out these advantages first:
The days with our little buddies are long at best and grueling at worst. The years, however, are especially short. Before we can even say super-cali-fragi-listic-expi-ali-doc-ious, our sweet snuggly babies are angsty teenagers who want nothing more than space.
One of the best advantages of co-sleeping is that it gives parents the ability to make the most of this precious time with young children. Co-sleeping can help you bond on a much deeper level with your baby while giving them a sense of safety and security.
Helps Comfort Children
Some little ones have a serious case of bedtime FOMO — aka, the fear of missing out. They don't want to be isolated in their own room and separated from the comforting close proximity of their parents.
For the average adult living in the 21st century with very limited time on their hands, spending the evening battling the baby to stay in their own bed is typically not at the top of their "to-do" lists. The non-stop sleep drama can be exhausting — especially in the wee hours of the night.
Many parents cave and turn to bed-sharing to keep the peace and get some shut-eye rather than spend another second in hostile negotiations with a fussy tot.
Sharing the sleeping space with your baby may not be ideal for you, but it's extremely comforting for children. Whether they struggle with separation anxiety at night or startle due to a bad dream, co-sleeping gives kids a greater sense of security and well-being to help them fall asleep and stay asleep from sun-up to sun-down.
If you're breastfeeding, maintaining a good supply of milk demands you to nurse around the clock — especially in the early months. This can be a pretty challenging feat if your tiny tot is snoozing in another room.
That being said, co-sleeping won't only help you to maintain a healthy milk supply, but it can also make midnight feedings much easier while keeping the activity hushed and peaceful.
How Can I Help My Baby Sleep Safely?
Snoozing with your little buddy is a parental decision — not a medical one. With that in mind, if you decide to embrace the practice of co-sleeping, make sure the extra closeness you desire addresses your baby's needs and not just your own.
For instance, if you're a single parent or your S.O works the graveyard shift, you shouldn't allow your tiny tot to snooze with you just to combat the feeling of being lonely.
Kids who begin co-sleeping at an early age aren't likely to "grow out" of it once you've become their sleep crutch. And as mentioned previously, it can take up to eight years until your little co-sleeper becomes cooperative about counting sheep in their own bed. This can lead to not just days but many years of poor sleep for the whole family.
Of course, co-sleeping does have its benefits, but it can be tricky to do right. By helping your little one sleep in their own bed, you can greatly reduce the risk of potential dangers.
Think about your little buddy's needs. Talk to your partner and start a conversation about co-sleeping with your pediatrician. All babies are different, and what works for one may not work for another — your doctor can help create a sleep plan specific to your baby that puts safety at the forefront.
Share a Bedroom with Your Baby
Regardless of the many safety precautions you can take when sleeping next to your little one, the AAP says there's no such thing as safe bed-sharing and that you should never sleep in bed with your baby. But don't worry — if you simply can't bear to be away from your snuggly angel, room-sharing is the way to go.
In fact, the AAP recommends room-sharing (but not bed-sharing) with your infant for the first year, or at least for the first six months. Substantial evidence shows that room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
The rationale is that having your little buddy within reach at your bedside makes for easier monitoring, feeding, and comforting to ensure safe sleep and sweet dreams.
Babies Should Always Sleep in a Crib or Bassinet
To promote a safe snooze, your baby should always sleep in a crib or bassinet — and nowhere else!
While it might be tempting to allow your drowsy baby to snooze on the sofa after finally dozing off, it's important to pick them up before gently placing them down in the correct sleeping environment.
According to experts, a sofa is the most dangerous place for a baby to sleep because it increases the risk of suffocation in the cushions.
To keep your baby safe and sound, they should sleep on a firm, flat mattress in a crib or bassinet that meets current safety standards from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC.
The sleeping space should be free and clear of bumpers, loose bedding, toys, and any other soft objects, as these items can put your baby in danger. You should also avoid waterbeds, which are too soft and flexible to provide your baby with a safe sleep.
Remember: basic, boring, and bare cribs are best for safe baby sleep.
Babies Should Always Sleep on Their Backs
Believe it or not, the rate of SIDS has dropped considerably since the AAP's recommendation in 1992 to place babies on their backs to sleep rather than their tummies.
While nobody knows for sure why it's safer for babies to slumber on their backs rather than their fronts, there are a few well-respected theories:
- Oxygen levels. Babies who sleep on their backs have clearer air pathways because their face is not as close to the mattress.
- Overheating. Babies who sleep on their tummies may overheat.
- Watch Out For Hazards. Babies sleeping on their backs are better able to swallow fluids and steer clear of potential hazards.
SIDS is yet to be fully understood, but one thing we do know for sure is that cases have dropped vastly ever since doctors started recommending parents to start placing their babies on their backs to sleep in the early 1990s.
Sleeping with your snuggly baby is a great way to bond, but according to experts, it's not safe and can greatly increase the risk of SIDS.
To help your tiny tot sleep safely through the night, the AAP recommends room-sharing (not bed-sharing), which means sleeping in the same vicinity as your infant, but not in the same bed.
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