Co-Sleeping & Bed Sharing

Co-sleeping and bed sharing is one area that confuses most parents. Do they mean the same or are they different? Whilst many people use these words interchangeably, co-sleeping means sleeping close to your child while bed sharing means that you and your child share a bed.

Stepping into parenthood means you gain a completely new set of words along with a new baby. These new words may be confusing at times, leaving you in need for an explanation; however, with time you realize that it is all part and parcel of the process of parenthood.

Co-sleeping

Co-sleeping allows babies to get more sleep. Since the parents are sleeping in the same room as the baby, if they cry or wake up in the middle of the night, the mother is right beside them who can nurse them or put them back to sleep again before they fully wake up. It makes breastfeeding easy for the mother since the baby is nearby. Parents get more sleep which is important, particularly to ensure the mother’s good health. Sleeping in the same room also decreases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome by 50% according to studies. Plus, it will definitely make your day waking up right next to your smiling baby.

Types of Co-sleeping

These are a few ways of co-sleeping used by different families.

Bedside crip

It involves attaching a crib to either side of the parents’ bed, preferably next to the mother’s side. Out of the four sides of the crib this side that is next to the mother is removed so that the baby and the mother both can access each other with ease. This arrangement helps reassure the mother especially as they know that their baby is within reach and they can have an interaction with them anytime of the night.

Room sharing

Small babies, or newborns, are at risk of sudden infant death syndrome which is the sudden unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby mostly during sleep. Thus, it is recommended that when the baby is small they must sleep in a crib in the parents’ room to reduce the risk of this syndrome. This way parents can monitor their child and make sure that they are comfortable all the time. With their child at a close distance they will be better able to respond to their needs.
If their child is older, parents can prepare a bed on the floor for them to sleep, next to their own bed. Even older children sometimes require more care specifically if they are sick or ill.

Bed sharing

Bed sharing also falls under co-sleeping. Here, the child sleeps with the parents on their bed only. It is one sleep arrangement that is very common amongst families but is very controversial too because of the increased risks of suffocation that the baby has. However, bed sharing helps improve nighttime breastfeeding. It is good for both, the mother and the baby’s health and wellbeing.

What you need to know before you share your bed or co-sleep with your baby

Both the parents must agree on sharing their bed with their little one. They must only share the bed if they are comfortable with sharing it. Before going to sleep, they must acknowledge that they know their baby is sleeping between them which is important to ensure the safety of their baby. Never put your baby in the between with a sleeping adult who does not know that there is a baby lying beside them. It can be dangerous.

Parents must avoid taking drugs and alcohol if they co-sleep with their babies. They must avoid smoking as well because it is even more harmful for babies. Sleeping with parents who are chain smokers, babies can face difficulties in breathing.

Mothers must ensure tying up their hair, particularly if they are very long, because there are risks of entanglement around the baby’s neck.

A co-sleeper attachment will be a better choice for bottle feeding babies. Or if the father or the mother is extremely obese and faces difficulty in knowing how close the baby is to their body, in such a case as well, a co-sleeper attachment will be the right option.

The most important thing for you to consider before you make the choice of sharing your bed with your baby or co-sleeping with them is that just as babies can die from sudden infant death syndrome, they can also get suffocated while co-sleeping or bed sharing with their parents. In such a case, neither you nor your spouse will assume and hold each other responsible for it.

Many families today find it very difficult to spend time together. For them co-sleeping is the perfect way of bonding together after spending a long busy day apart. It helps bring them closer to each other, especially the father and the baby who do not have a strong physical bond that a nursing mother and their baby have. This way they are able to take out time to spend together.

All mothers find it easy to breastfeed their babies curled next to them inside their beds. Once they get used to and comfortable with it, they hardly wake up when it is feeding time. Added to this, many newborn babies develop a habit of waking up at night and feeding for long durations. So, having the babies by their side at night is definitely an advantage.

Some couples think that co-sleeping with their child will make it harder for them to spend time alone together to reconnect. What they do not realize is that it makes them more resourceful and active about finding time to spend together alone. Sharing your bed with your child or co-sleeping with them means that you will have to plan to spend some time alone with your spouse rather than waiting for it to spontaneously happen. Of course, planning for intimacy will call for a great new adventure.

© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.


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