Most parents already deal during pregnancy with the question of where the baby should sleep when it is born. However, since experts’ opinions vary widely, many couples are confused about being suitable for their child.
When babies sleep together with their parents in the same bed or an immediately adjacent side bed, this is called co-sleeping. We want to explain why this practice is best for both the baby and the parents in the following.
Some people argue that co-sleeping is the right and natural way to boost a child’s confidence because the practice fosters a stronger bond and a more secure attachment.
Conversely, others will tell you that co-sleeping is risky, ridiculous, or even dangerous, and they do not want it for their loved ones.
First, it’s essential to understand that co-sleeping isn’t magic. Although some proponents of the family bed would disagree, numerous couples have reported that their babies did not necessarily sleep deeper or longer since their parents were close by. Some parents found that their child slept longer and woke less frequently when they stopped co-sleeping and moved him into his crib.
However, whether families decide to co-sleep or have their kids sleep independently is personal. If both parents and child are safe, rested, and fulfilled, co-sleeping is nothing to worry about.
Should you decide do co-sleep, this commitment requires some conscientious thinking about what you and your partner feel is ideal for you as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.
As anticipated, co-sleeping has both advantages and disadvantages. So let’s take a closer look at them.
Especially in the beginning, newborns need an enormous amount of closeness and affection. Physical contact with the parents alone has a calming effect on the baby. If the family sleeps together in the same bed, the children can be sure that nothing can happen. In addition, sleeping together positively affects the child’s development. If the essential trust is strengthened, the babies become self-confident children.
However, co-sleeping is not only beneficial in bonding with the mother. This practice also has a convenient benefit for mothers breastfeeding their children. By having the child sleep in or right by the bed, the mother does not have to get up to breastfeed. In addition, this means that breastfeeding can occur while the child is half asleep, so both of them can quickly fall asleep again afterward.
Everyday life with one or even more children can be very stressful. Therefore, a good night’s sleep is enormously important to be awake and rested the next day. But unfortunately, neither mother nor father usually gets up at night to soothe their baby.
There have always been discussions about whether it is dangerous for the baby to sleep in the same bed as the parents in recent decades. In particular, many parents fear sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). But does co-sleeping increase the risk?
Whether co-sleeping increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome is a controversial issue among experts. Yet, again and again, statements can be read that children who sleep in their parents’ beds have an increased risk of SIDS. This is also confirmed by a much-cited study by SIDS researcher Robert Carpenter. According to critics, however, Carpenter’s calculations are based on invalid assumptions and outdated data.
A more recent study by British researcher Peter Blair shows that sleeping in a parental bed is just as safe as sleeping in a bed of one’s own. However, this may only look at cases where the child sleeps in bed with their parents and not on the couch.
Meanwhile, some studies prove that co-sleeping can significantly reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. This is mainly because the movements and sounds of the parents prevent the children from falling into a deep sleep, where the probability of cardiac arrest is higher. However, this is only true if the baby sleeps in a side bed in the parents’ bedroom.
If the baby sleeps in the parent’s bed with you, you should consider the following:
There is no strict guideline for how long children should sleep in or by their parents’ bed. Each family should decide how long they want to maintain the family bed. Usually, at the age of three to four, children decide all by themselves that they now want to sleep in their room. However, do not force your child to sleep in their room if they do not want to.
If your child decides to sleep in their room after some time, be sure not to cling. Respect this decision and help your child become independent. Explain to your child that they may come to bed with you at any time if they feel anxious at night.
Many parents have trouble putting their children to bed at night. If the child cannot fall asleep on their own, make sure to put the child to bed when tired but still awake. This way, your child will get to know the environment better, so they won’t be afraid at night. Sleep rituals, such as reading to your child or cuddling, can also help your child fall asleep.
When children are already sleeping in their bed but suddenly want to sleep in their parents’ bed again, this is called re-cosleeping. This usually happens during a phase in which children suddenly develop fears and seek security and safety. As long as it is only a temporary phase, re-cosleeping is entirely harmless.
The choice to co-sleep ought to be yours made by the parent — or parents — and according to your philosophies, not on pressure from your child or anyone else. Another family’s bad or good experience with co-sleeping should not influence your choice: Your child is unique, and your family is not the same. Have you heard of the baby sleep miracle? Click here or the picture below to learn more!