Co-sleeping means sleeping in close proximity to your child. It may be either in the same bed or in the same toom.
This practice may vary from culture to culture, but it’s a rising trend in the States. Is it really a child’s need to be close to parents, is it due to fear, or there are some other reasons. Let’s discover.
Co-Sleeping With Children
Co-sleeping and bed-sharing is a big practice in families lately. Reasons for this practice may vary and may occur by choice or by accident. To understand co-sleeping, it’s important to understand terms that are linked to this occurrence.
Here are the most common terms, related to co-sleeping:
- Co-sleeping. The practice of sleeping in the same bed with your child, or in close proximity.
- Bed-sharing. This is type of co-sleeping when child shared the bed with only one, or with both parents.
- Solitary sleeping. This type of sleeping means that child sleeps in her or his own room, or in her or his own sleep surface.
- Reactive co-sleeping. This immplies that child goes to bed in his or her own room, but comes to parents room in the middle of the night.
Pros And Cons of Co-Sleeping
For many cultures globally, co-sleeping is a common practice. Co-sleeping is considered to be a natural way to get some rest while bonding.
This is more common in cultures that have strong collectivist ideals and more traditional and centralized family life, with generations living under one roof.
Since Americans are advocates for independence and privacy, it’s interesting to note that co-sleeping is still a popular practice.
It turns out that co-sleeping is popular due to its many benefits, and fast lifestyle that forces parents to spend as much time as possible with their children. Let’s see what are the benefits of co-sleeping first.
Pros of Co-Sleeping
For many families, co-sleeping isn’t the best fit. However, when focusing only on benefits, this practice actually offers many advantages:
- Parents get more sleep
- Babies also get more sleep
- Breastfeeding is easier at night when the baby is nearby
- No nighttime separation anxiety
- There are no nightmares usually
Cons of Co-Sleeping
This may vary from family to family, but downsides of co-sleeping are real, and in some – although rare – situations can even lead to fatal accidents. Here are the most common cons of co-sleeping:
- Lower sleep quality
- Often nighttime waking
- Daytime sleepiness, for kids and parents
Your bed might not be sufficient for your baby. According to experts, babies should sleep in specific sleeping surroundings without increasing the risk of SIDS, especially in the first six months of life.
In some rare cases, co-sleeping with babies may lead to overlying, suffocation, smothering, and above mentioned SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
It’s important to note that babies, children, and adults all have different sleeping needs. Learn how much sleep do you need based on your age.
Co-Sleeping Is Never Safe
Co-sleeping is the safest as the baby gets older. The older a child gets, the safer co-sleeping becomes.
The reason for this is simple – older children have physical ability to extricate themselves from possible entrapment or even suffocation.
Moreover, they are also loud scrimers, so they can easily wake you up if something is wrong. Also, by the time baby can toddle, parents will never forget the child’s spins.
The best that you can do for your baby is to create a safe sleep area.
As you know already, any sleep surface that baby uses should be safe for your baby. Every area should also be baby-proof and supported by natural materials, if possible.
Here is a quick checklist to make your baby’s space safe and secure:
- Baby should sleep on the back
- Baby’s sleep surface should be firm
- Babies should never be placed on a waterbed mattress, beanbag, pillow, or any other soft surface
- The mattress should be tight-fitting
- No loose pillows, stuffed animals, or soft blankets are allowed
- No space between the bed and adjoining wall
- Babies should never sleep on the sofa, futon, couch, recliner, or any other surface where baby can easily sleep from. This applies to sleep with or without an adult.
How To Stop Co-Sleeping?
The best thing about sleep is that it actually changes with ages. The same applies to babies and babies, especially. Babies are highly adaptable, but they must be trained on how to sleep in their own crib or bassinet.
After all, parents are responsible for babies sleeping habits. It’s your responsibility as a parent to make sure that sleep habits are well-built.
You may feel tired, and you may start asking yourself – why shouldn’t we take a nap together, to save some time? It’s tempting to bring your baby to your bed, but you should think about the long run.
If you decide to take a nap with your baby, your bundle of joy may fake up, and you will be just on hand reach and provide food and comfort.
However, if the baby wakes up in the middle of the night, there will be a huge confusion. Why? Babies can’t understand why their parents aren’t ext to them in the middle of the night when they wake up.
In fact, your bed should be off-limits even for cuddling in the first three months after you have stopped co-sleeping.
When you start the transition, make sure that your baby has a safe place to sleep. This means that baby is not surrounded by stuffies, bumpers, or blankets. This also means that the room temperature is right for sleeping, and the room is dark.
A noise machine might also be handy and make your baby sleep soundly. You can even try the Ferber method: let your baby cry it out.
You can also sit in a chair in the room and slowly move the chair out of the room for night s in a row until your baby learns how to sleep independently. This is a type of sleep training, that actually teaches your baby to sleep independently.
This training can last between three nights a couple of the week, sit all depends on the baby. It can also be useful to reach out to a sleep consultant if you need extra help.
Also, don’t give up and be consistent. The transition from an old habit to a new one is always challenging, especially when you are dealing with children.
Any transmission isn’t a one-night process. As mentioned above, some children can achieve full transition in only few nights, while others need weeks.
With that on the mind, it’s crucial to have a routine and be consistent. Establish the bedtime routine and stick to it. Make sure that the boundaries are strict:
- where the child sleeps
- which bed is the child’s
- at what time the child gets up
If you think that it might help, you can even establish an award system, depending on the age of your child.
Bear in mind that this system is usually effective in children age 3 or higher. A good reward system can involve giving the child a token or sticker if she or he stays in bed all night.
When the child’s cash in three or five tokens qualification for big reward is possible. Rewards may include a trip to the park, ice cream, extra screening time and so on.
Tips For Developing A Good Bedtime Routine
Any good sleep routine will demand time investment. To establish a good routine, you will have to invest at least 30 to 60 minutes per day for maximum results. These are the most effective tips for a good bedtime routine:
- Routine must end in the baby’s bedroom
- Rotuine can start with a warm bath
- Hygiene-related steps may vary from child to child
- Read a bedtime story
- Talk to your baby
- Avoid electronic and screens before bed
- Put a baby down when drowsy
- Don’t rock a child to sleep, because this can create a sleep assosiation
Following AAP Guidelines To Reduce SIDS Risk
If you are a parent to a child under the age of 12 months, you should follow AAP guidelines when it comes to co-sleeping.
According to their guidelines, there should be no-bed sharing if your child is under the age of 12 months, otherwise, you might go through some severe situation that might lead to a fatal outcome.
To avoid sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)room-sharing is not recommended for the baby’s first year, to avoid accidental suffocation risks.
Learn more about how to reduce SIDS risk here.
The Bottom Line
The truth is that science still doesn’t know why parents allow children to co-sleep with them. Reasons for this are complex, and overall not understood.
Some believe that this is due to a higher anxiety level in children like never before.
Others believe that this occurrence has a strong link with the high divorce rate, frequent transition, overworking, strong academic pressures, and the influence of bind social 24/7.
As a result, children are less self-reliant today. Interestingly, experts believe that this all could change if a parent were more willing to create sleep hygiene while children are still babies.
Babies are capable of learning from day one. As they grow, their brain is like a sponge, sucking in all the knowledge.
So, if you train your baby to sleep well, the chances are that the habit will remain at an older age as well.
With that on the mind, make sure that your baby has a specific routine, that you are willing to teach your baby how to be independent when it comes to sleeping, and you will have good sleepy hygiene forever.