Co-sleeping refers to sharing a room with your baby or toddler, where they have their own sleeping space separate to yours. In other instances, co-sleeping can be sharing a bed with your baby or toddler. This article will explore the benefits of co-sleeping, its disadvantages and tips for safe co-sleeping.
Benefits of co sleeping
- Sleeping in the same room with your child reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Worldwide research shows that the SIDS rate is lowest (and even unheard of) in countries where co-sleeping is the norm
- Infants who co-sleep may go to sleep faster and stay asleep longer.
- It promotes breastfeeding by making night feedings quicker, less disruptive, and more accessible.
- More mothers who co-sleep report feeling better rested.
- Some research suggests that infants who co-sleep develop stronger emotional relationships with their parents and with other people.
- Studies show that co-sleeping (and particularly bed-sharing) has physiological benefits for the baby, for example by synching their breathing to the adult’s and helping to regulate their body temperature.
- The psychological benefits of co-sleeping may include enhanced parental emotional regulation and feelings of closeness to their baby and lower stress levels for babies.
- Babies who co-sleep may sleep for shorter durations and have less sleep consolidation than those sleeping in their own rooms.
- Co-sleeping may become a “sleep crutch” for your baby, meaning that they have trouble falling asleep on their own without the presence of the parent.
- Co-sleeping may be disruptive to adult sleep, as many parents sleep less deeply with their child in the same room.
- Co-sleeping may require an earlier bedtime than the adults may prefer.
- Parents may be uncomfortable having sex with their child in the room, which may impact the parental relationship.
Tips for safer co-sleeping:
Co-sleeping can be dangerous and increase the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy. Therefore, here are tips for safer co-sleeping.
- Place your baby on their back to sleep (never on their tummy or side). This helps to protect their airways.
- Keep baby’s head and face uncovered by keeping pillows and adult bedding away from your baby. Use a safe sleeping bag with no hood with baby’s arms out – don’t wrap or swaddle baby when bed-sharing or co-sleeping.
- Make sure the mattress is firm and flat. Don’t use a waterbed, or anything soft underneath – for example, a lamb’s wool underlay or pillows. This can increase the risk of overheating and suffocation.
- Tie up long hair and remove anything else that could be a strangling risk, including all jewellery, teething necklaces and dummy chains
- Move the bed away from the wall, so baby can’t get trapped between the bed and wall.
- Make sure your baby can’t fall out of bed. Consider sleeping on your mattress on the floor if it’s possible your baby might roll off the bed
- Create a clear space for your baby and place your baby on their back to the side of one parent away from the edge, never in the middle of two adults or next to other children or pets as this can increase the risk of overheating and suffocation.