Whether you should or should not sleep with your baby can be a controversial discussion. However, sleeping close to your newborn may seem like a good idea. But, it can get dangerous until you know it. This blog post will discuss what co-sleeping is, why parents choose to co-sleep, and the five main reasons to avoid co-sleeping with your baby.
Co-sleeping is when a parent sleeps very close to the baby so both are in physical contact. It means that the parent and baby can quickly tell that the other is close to them. However, when we talk about co-sleeping, we see two different types of co-sleeping. One is room sharing, and the other is bed-sharing.
In the room-sharing setting, there is a crib or a bassinet in the room. The crib or bassinet is placed close to the bed so the baby and parent are near each other.
Bed sharing is when parents lay the baby with them on the same bed, and they sleep in the same bed. This type of co-sleeping is potentially dangerous for an infant as it enhances the risk of sleep-related deaths (SIDS) in newborns.
Parents who prefer to sleep with their baby on the same bed do it for some reasons. Below are the main reasons parents prefer bed-sharing:
- A mother can be close to her baby.
- Breastfeeding becomes a lot easier.
- A baby can quickly go to sleep when sharing bed with their mother.
- Results in more nighttime sleep for both the newborn and the mother.
- Increases the number of breastfeeding sessions for the baby, meaning it benefits the baby’s health.
Most parents think that if they sleep close to their baby, the baby will feel a sense of security. They believe by being close, the baby will be calmer. This is true to an extent, but doing so in a room-sharing setting is better. If a parent co-sleeps with their baby in a bed-sharing setting, then this can have consequences. We will now discuss the five reasons to avoid co-sleeping with your newborn.
Sleep crutches are also called sleep associations. These are the parental behaviors that babies associate with sleep time. Sleep crutches are things that babies cannot go to sleep without. For example, a parent patting or breastfeeding a baby at sleep time is a sleep crutch.
Once the baby knows their parent pats them when it is time to sleep, they will always expect their parent to pat them to fall asleep. Otherwise, the baby will find it hard to sleep, which is a negative aspect of co-sleeping. What’s important is that a baby should be able to fall asleep without a parent having to do anything.
Another result of sleep crutches is that if the baby is not getting the expected behavior from a parent, they will start showing anxious behaviors. And when the parents take their baby to a doctor, the doctor sometimes misdiagnoses the baby as naturally anxious. In reality, the main reason for the baby to be anxious is a lack of sleep crutch.
There may be other older kids in the family besides the infant. If you’re considering co-sleeping, this can become a problem as the sleep times won’t match. For example, the parents and older children will have to sleep earlier because of the baby's need to sleep. This soon becomes irksome for everyone, and the situation gets hard to deal with.
When a baby moves and starts to kick, it can easily cause a parent to wake up. This causes one or both parents to suffer from sleep deprivation and feel exhausted for days. Also, when parents co-sleep on the same bed, the baby separates both parents, making it hard for them to get close. This results in minimal time for both parents to be close to each other.
For all parents who prefer to co-sleep with their baby should consider the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. If parents are not consciously careful, they might roll onto the baby while sleeping. This can lead to the baby getting injured, suffocated or sudden death. Also, a parent should avoid co-sleeping with a baby if they smoke or take drugs. Other harms the baby may go through are smothering, entrapment, and strangulation.
While there are reasons for parents to co-sleep with their baby, doing so comes with significant risks. If you think that putting your baby away from you in a crib means abandoning them or negatively affecting your relationship with the baby, stay calm! You are taking such measures only for your baby's best interest, and there are many other ways to show your baby love and care. Co-sleeping has no direct relation with strengthening a strong bond of love and care with your baby.