Co-sleeping: why babies should not sleep alone
At times, having a newborn can seem like an experiment to test the effects of sleep deprivation. It can be a very testing and exhausting time, with so many new things to learn for both mom and baby. Our experts look at some of the advice offered around the term, “co-sleeping” and weigh in on the debate.
In order to address the debate we need to define and understand what all the terms mean:
This is where the infant sleeps in close proximity to the parent or caregiver. This can include having the infant’s cot or crib in the parents bedroom – also known as room-sharing. Co-sleeping by this definition is not controversial and is recommended by most child care professionals. The child has a reduced risk of SIDS because of the proximity of the parents and the parents feel safer too. Other cultures all over the world follow a form of bed-sharing with lower rates of SIDS.
Other types of co-sleeping include bed sharing or couch co-sleeping. The former is not completely safe or unsafe as with anything there are some risks, but couch co-sleeping is not recommended and is considered very dangerous. With couch-sharing, there is a big chance that baby will fall between the cushions or be pushed and could suffocate.
- Room-sharing, where the baby sleeps in the same room as the parents but in a separate bed/crib.
- Couch-sharing, where the baby sleeps with the parent(s) on the couch or sofa.
- Bed-sharing, where the baby sleeps in the same bed as the parents.
Bed-sharing is the most controversial as it can be very dangerous if no precautions are taken. There are also lots of benefits to bed-sharing if this is done in the right way. The new Bambino Beside Me Sleeper creates a safe co-sleeping space for your little one with all the benefits of bed-sharing. By providing a cot that connects to the adult bed, baby is safe in their own space with the convenience of being right there to comfort or feed them. If you have had a c-section chances are you will not wanting to be getting up too often so this can be a lifesaver.
What are the benefits of co-sleeping:
Co-sleeping makes breastfeeding easier:
There are lots of benefits for breastfeeding, but this is a personal decision and many moms are not able to breastfeed. For breastfeeding moms, co-sleeping makes breastfeeding easier and can almost double breastfeeding sessions. Breastmilk transfers healthy bacteria, is nutritious and helps the baby’s immune system develop. With more frequent breastfeeding sessions, especially at night, infants are exposed to more of moms antibodies. Breastfeeding also promotes a strong bond for mother and baby. All research points to breastfeeding being good for both mom and baby and has even been seen to reduce SIDS. By having baby beside you whilst in bed will make the feeding process a lot easier and allow moms to sleep more. Co-sleepers will often breastfeed for a lot longer and potentially reduce moms risk of breast cancer.
Co-sleeping allows baby to follow mom’s sleep patterns:
Studies done with solitary sleeping pairs compared to co-sleepers showed that although co-sleepers woke up more often, the wakefulness periods tended to overlap. These pairs also got back to sleep a lot faster. Researchers stated that co-sleeping moms were able to respond to crying infants quicker and were therefore better caregivers able to monitor their infants. Mom and baby become more sensitive to each others patterns and responses.
Co-sleeping improves sleep:
Although co-sleepers wake up more frequently they are able to get back to sleep quicker. This can mean that each wakening is less disruptive as they do not have to get out of bed to address baby’s needs. Many co-sleepers cite improved sleep as a major reason for co-sleeping. Some researchers also attribute the “lighter” sleep to account for the reduction in SIDS. Moms also have a biological imperative to wake to their infant’s cries. By having baby near them, many co-sleepers were able to sleep more soundly versus their solitary sleeping counterparts who awoke for every sound.
Co-sleeping modifies the response to night wakings:
Many co-sleepers saw night wakings as normal and not being too disruptive, while solitary sleepers saw this as a major disruption. This is because mom had to physically get out of bed and go into the other room to comfort their baby.
Co-sleeping normalises the stress response in children:
When we stress we release the hormone cortisol, as a normal reaction. Infant’s cortisol levels should be moderate as a reaction to any physical stress. Babies who are solitary sleepers showed a greater sensitivity to mild stressors, like bathing, compared to their co-sleeping counterparts. It appears that the theory that babies who co-sleep will become more dependent and less likely to deal with stressors is, in fact, untrue. Babies are biologically programmed to be calmed by maternal smells or touch, having baby beside you will often keep them calmer for longer.
Co-sleeping facilitates the bond between parent and child:
Oxytocin is released during skin-to-skin contact, this strengthens the bond between mother and child. By co-sleeping moms are able to maintain contact with their little ones without putting them at risk.
Co-sleeping may result in more independent children and adults:
Some studies have shown that co-sleepers grow up to be independent and better-adjusted adults. As co-sleeping reduces tantrums and quells fears, co-sleepers tend to be less fearful with high self-esteem later on in life. They also tend to become comfortable with intimacy, as well as many other psychological benefits.
One solution for safe and easy co-sleeping is the Bambino Beside Me Sleeper:
Allowing you and your newborn to safely sleep next to each other for the first few months with the Beside Me Sleeper by Bambino. This easy to assemble sleeper cot can be used attached to the parent bed or as a stand alone cot.
- 830 x 940 x 680mm
- Weight 9 kg
- Weight limit 9kg