What Is Co-Sleeping?
Co-sleeping is when a mother and baby sleep close to each other. Whether it is in the same bed or the same room.
Some families have a bassinet in the room or a ‘sidecar arrangement’ which is an attached crib to the bed. Others have the baby in the bed, like me. Though I began co-sleeping once my baby weighed around 8 pounds (1-month-old) as she was born very little.
Bed-sharing is most often practiced by nursing mothers.
Usually, the biggest issue with co-sleeping/ bed-sharing is safety. Many sources share that co-sleeping is unsafe no matter what… Trust me, I did a bunch of research.
I felt like I was putting my baby at risk by sleeping with her based on what was recommended by doctors everywhere. Yet, every night I knew there wasn’t a place where she was safest than my arms.
Then I did a bit more research in their numbers and their case studies. What they don’t tell you is that all those studies where babies have suffocated or have been put in danger are based on parents that have been under the influence.
Meaning that they were either smoking, drinking alcohol or other OTC (over the counter) medicine that makes them sleep deeply.
“Mother-infant cosleeping with breastfeeding is humankind’s oldest and most successful sleeping arrangement.” (source)
Why Did I Choose to Co-Sleep?
I was barely getting by, with two hours of sleep add to that healing from childbirth including raw, sore nipples. It was hell, we were all struggling.
Both my daughter and I were suffering, we were not resting and we were so irritable.
That being said, I decided to co-sleep and it was the best thing for us. I got my first four hours of sleep in a month.
My daughter did not fuss at all. Co-sleeping brought peace and calm to my home.
She is five months currently and we still co-sleep. There are nights when I know she needs her space and I take her to her crib.
Sometimes she sleeps through the night but almost all nights she wakes to feed. So, most nights she sleeps next to me, nestled at my breast.
Benefits Of Co-Sleeping For Mom & Baby
“Sleeping close to infants further enhances the abilities for both mothers and fathers and infants to socially and psychologically “attach”, and infants to attach to them, which ultimately strengthens the infant’s emerging psychological system and future resilience as proximity permits the mother-infant, father-infant relationship to engage in ways that contribute to the emergence of optimal (healthy) infant emotional development. ” ( source )
More sleep for parents and baby.
Breastfeeding is much more convenient and easy while co-sleeping.
Helps maintain milk supply for the breastfeeding mom.
Baby wakes up less at night by being close to mom and also mom’s scent is soothing for baby.
No nighttime anxiety.
Waking up to a happy and smiling baby is the best thing!
Dangers of Co-Sleeping & How To Create A Safe Sleeping Place For Baby When Sharing A Bed
The more you hold and respond and carry your baby, the better. This creates a bond that stimulates you and your baby to be in sync which promotes safety.
The baby should be on his or her back at all times.
No loose bedding, pillows, stuffed animals near the baby’s face.
The baby should lay on a firm surface.
Babies should never be left alone or unattended on any surface other than a crib or bassinet.
Babies are safest next to their breastfeeding/nursing mothers.
Siblings or other children should not sleep in the same space.
Long hair should be put up.
Avoid swaddling as it can cause the baby to overheat.
*A parent who is a very deep sleeper should avoid falling asleep with a baby under a year old.
Best Co-Sleeping Position
Side-laying is the absolute best.
Your baby should be placed face up or slightly up, depending on whichever side he or she will feed on if you will be nursing.
Is Co-Dependence A Risk When Co-Sleeping?
The short answer is NO, a big resounding no.
Contrary to popular belief, co-sleeping provides reassurance through touch and emotional support. When these are met by parents, it results in independence and self-sufficiency early on.
Co-Sleeping A Bottle-Fed/Formula-Fed Baby
Breastfeeding mothers typically place their infants under their triceps, mid-chest level, and often sleep on their side curling up around the infant protectively with their knees pulled up under the infant’s feet. I sleep exactly like this every single night.
This position may be instinctive but it does not happen when a mother bottle feeds her baby.
Bottle-fed infants are usually placed much higher up on the bed and near pillows or on top which is dangerous as it can obscure the infants’ airflow, and expose infants to potential gaps (headboard to mattress).
Also, bottle fed bed-sharing infants move in directions away from the mother, hence, increasing the risks of some kind of asphyxial event, compared with breastfeeding infants, according to the research by Dr. Helen Ball. (Please check out her website at the University of Durham).
Bottle-fed infants are safer if they sleep alongside their mothers on a different surface but not in the same bed. ( source )
Co-Sleeping: History vs Biology
Throughout time, especially on this side of the world, the notorious wild west has been expecting way too much from babies and their mothers. The real truth is simply that we need each other.
I can tell you, from what I’ve experienced with my daughter, that I crave her and I bet she craves me too! There are times where I need to hold her, smell her or simply look at her. Can you imagine what she must feel? Oh, and she can’t do anything about it.
“Babies are meant to be clingy, needy and dependent…they’re BABIES not robots….”
Henrietta from Natural Mama Co. (IG @naturalmamaco)
Remember, parenting is individual to each family and each parent. Do what works for you… Every baby and every mom is different. You know best! I am just sharing what works for me and some research on the subject.
Sleep well and sweet dreams to you and your baby!
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