Your bundle of joy has finally joined the family after a long wait of 9 months. In a few days, you will be deciding on whether your child will sleep with you or alone. Before you jump on to any conclusion, you should know that your decision to co-sleep or let the baby sleep alone is in no way a yardstick of your love or concern. There are a lot of factors that would play a role in your decision. Whether or not parents should co-sleep with their babies is still a hotly debated topic. However, as parents it’s your responsibility to ensure safety of your baby no matter what your choice of sleeping arrangements is. If you are leaning towards co-sleeping, this article will help you in understanding the pros, cons, and precautions that you have to take.
What Is Co-Sleeping?
Co-sleeping is sharing the space with your child when you go to sleep. Co-sleeping is often considered synonymous with bed sharing i.e. letting your baby sleep in the same bed with you. However, co-sleeping can also mean simply putting baby to sleep in the same room as you but in a separate bed.
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Experts believe that co-sleeping will help in strengthening the bond between the child and the mother. It has been observed on many occasions that it is hard for the newborns to sleep alone. In such cases, the presence of the mother in the same room or on the same bed can go a long way in helping the kid to relax and have good sleep.
Pros Of Co-sleeping With A Newborn:
As mentioned above, some kids do not feel comfortable while sleeping alone. It is better to be around them in the initial few months so that they can sleep properly.
- If both the parents are working, it gets hard for them to spend time with the kid. Co-sleeping gives them time to create a bond with the child.
- It is easier for the mother to breastfeed the kid during the night time.
- It is easier for the parents to calm down the kid if he/she starts to cry in the middle of the night.
- Experts also believe that room sharing (and not bed-sharing) with the baby for at least the first six months, and ideally a year, may help lower the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by as much as 50 percent.
Cons Of Co-Sleeping With A Newborn:
- Sometimes your spouse might not be comfortable with co-sleeping which can cause problems for some time.
- You will not get the alone time you deserve.
- Your kid may get habitual of sleeping with you.
- Most doctors suggest not to share the same bed as the baby since it can increase the risk of SIDS
Also Read: Baby Sleep Timeline - Newborn to 12 months
Precautions to take while co-sleeping
It is an unfortunate fact that co-sleeping increases the chances of ‘sudden infant death syndrome’ commonly known as SIDS. Thus, it is always better to share the room and not the bed. If you are sharing the room with the infant, make sure to keep the following precautions in mind so that there is no risk for the child.
- Having the baby’s crib in the room is always easier for the parents as a mother can feed the child whenever required and parents can comfort the child if he/she starts to cry in the middle of the night. However, if the crib is far from the bed, it may become problematic for you to get up and reach there without bumping your foot in something. It is always better to keep the crib as close to the bed as possible.
- If you are choosing a crib for the baby, make sure that the wooden grills of the crib are not more than 2-3 inches apart, the mattress is firm and fits the selected crib without any gaps, and the sheets fit the mattress securely
- Never put the baby in an adult bed alone especially once the baby starts to roll. The baby can not only suffocate of rolled on the stomach, he/she can fall from the bed too.
- Soft mattress or soft couch can cause suffocation thus such surfaces should be avoided in all circumstances. If you have to change your mattress, make sure you do it before the arrival of the baby so that your body can get used to it.
- Make sure not to cover the baby’s head while sleeping as it can cause irritation and suffocation.
- Do not place pillows, quilts and other soft items including soft toys around your kid as they can be dangerous. Your kid can suffocate on them which may even lead to death.
- Make sure both parents do not take alcohol or any other drugs while co-sleeping as under the influence of the drugs even your subconscious mind will not have any control on your body and you may roll over on to the baby which can lead to severe injury or even death.
- Buy proper sleeper dresses for your baby and don’t use just the blanket.
- If you are co-sleeping, do not sleep on the couch, rocker or recliner with your baby as the baby may fall down while you are sleeping.
- Make sure not to let the baby sleep on your chest while you are sleeping as the baby may roll over or you may roll on the side causing injury or suffocation to the child.
You need to understand that most of the babies love co-sleeping as they need human touch which is also crucial for their proper growth. For working parents, co-sleeping can make it easier for the parents to spend more time with the kids. Also, it will make it easier for the parents to feed, comfort and change the kid in the middle of the night.
Co-sleeping has a lot of benefits which have been proved with a number of studies. The babies feel less stress with parents around which helps in proper growth and development. It is much easier for the mother to take care of the child sleeping a couple of feet away from her bed rather than running multiple times during the night in other room.
Also Read: 6 Worst Sleep Mistakes parents make & how to avoid them
As per James McKenna, an anthropology professor at the University of Notre Dame and director of the ‘mother-baby behavioural sleep laboratory’, “Babies need to learn to respond to the sensory signals of others, including smells, movements, sounds, touches and heat.” As per him, putting a baby alone in a room is not the ideal way to help them learn, grow and develop these sensory distinctions. With a few precautions mentioned in this article, both parents and the child can have an amazing bond with co-sleeping which will help in enhancing the relationship between them.
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