Co sleeping can be such a wonderful experience. When done safely, which is absolutely critical, it can also actually help you and your baby sleep more, protect your baby,
make night feeds easier and improves bonding. But for completeness let's look at some downsides too.
Disclaimer: Unsafe co-sleeping can kill your baby. The author(s) of this article are not responsible for your child's safety: applying these guidelines properly and appropriately for your unique situation, and ensuring your baby's safety is your own responsibility (full disclaimer).
You may be a convinced co
sleeper. Or, if you are like me and
so many other parents, you have probably ended up with baby
in your bed every now and then.
You know, when after the so
night feeding your baby refuses to go back to sleep for hours, and just
Desperate, feeling guilty, you put her next to you in bed and
... she dozes off so peacefully. That is the power of co sleeping:
your baby feels safe and secure and that works like a magic sleep
--- Remember, this occasional
co sleeping is fine, and it can be a real life saver to get at least
some sleep but please, please make sure to take apply co-sleeping safety precautions, even if you only take your baby in your bed just once every now and then!
Regularly sharing the family bed with your baby has interesting
advantages for both
you and your baby:
better: all babies sleep better when they feel safe and
secure. Especially in those first months, your presence is all the
reassurance she needs to become confident at sleeping.
Baby is safer:
in those first months, your presence when baby sleeps is a top
protector in the battle against SIDS, or cot death. SIDS studies show
that your presence somehow helps regulate baby's breathing and heart
rate. And it allows you to react (instinctively) when something goes
wrong. See preventing
SIDS guidelines for more on avoiding SIDS.
better: most parents - even many not so keen on the family
bed - sleep better with their baby near: it feels
feel and hear baby close by (without having to get up and go check 10s
times each night). A cosleeper
crib takes away the worries some have with having baby in
feedings: when breast feeding:
just draw baby closer to feed, then gently shift her back. This
disturbs both her and your sleep the least (as opposed to getting up,
going to the crib, getting out of the crib, off to feed, back in the
crib, ... waking you all up completely), also when bottle
baby: being so close to your baby when sleeping &
waking at night is a great way to improve bonding.
co sleeping often makes it easier to keep breastfeeding, which again
benefits both you and your baby.
Sharing the family bed can be lovely, yes. But I still think it's
look at some downsides too. Because it doesn't work out for everyone.
And it does not make sense to rave about how great something is,
without also thinking of what could be less great. That will help you
make your own best choice.
if cosleeping is not done safely, there is a risk for your baby to die
- when you roll on top of her or she gets covered under the
sleep for baby: some babies - especially from 4-6 months
onwards, are very lightly awakened by their parent's movements.
sleep for you: you may not sleep so comfortably or deeply
with baby near you.
transition to crib: at some point, your baby or toddler
cosleeping will need to transition to his own bed. This can be
privacy: as a couple, you and your partner may feel you
loose too much of your privacy and intimacy when sharing your bed with
The two main worries I hear from parents are the safety and transition (bad habit) ones.
The safety issue can be dealt with but remains extremely important to keep in mind (sorry if I say
it again and again!): when you co sleep, always
follow all co-sleeping safety guidelines.
About the 'bad
habit': it's true that some babies, and toddlers, and to be truthful, their parents, will
love sleeping in your family bed SO much, that transitioning to their
own crib or bed, while never impossible, can take a while at a later age. That's why, if you decide to cosleep
regularly, both you and your partner must be convinced 100%. So that if
transitioning takes a bit longer than you first thought, you won't not
mind too much.
Also, most babies actually transition quite easily under 1 year old.
Later on, towards toddler hood it is a good exercise in 'learning to
accept rules'. With your gentle guidance, your child can then learn to
sleep in his own ('big kid') bed, when you feel the time is right.
Again a cosleeper
can help by getting your baby used to being in her own crib, while
still next to you.
Whether you co sleep or not is a very very personal choice. It can be
an absolute no-no!
for some, and a of
course! for others. And you can plan enthusiastically
before baby is born, only to find yourself doing the exact opposite
once she's there ...
Both are good options, as long as you
do what feels best for you and your family, and make sure it's safe at all times. Never hesitate to ask
me here if you're unsure.