Ask a new parent what they are most fed up with and the answer may surprise you. More often then not, new parents are most bothered by the endless amount of contradictory parenting advice that they get from friends, family, parents, strangers, and more. With so much advice out there and on a topic that is so important, it makes sense that people will passionately argue every point if it is something they personally believe in.
Co-Sleeping refers to parents sleeping with their baby. A practice that is as old as childbirth, there are a number of good reasons why people see co-sleeping as less then optimal. In addition, co-sleeping can stand for sleeping with your child in the same room. Whether the child is in your bed or sleeping in a crib next to you, many people consider it co-sleeping.
Let us be clear that the vast majority of debate arises when parents sleep in the same bed as their baby. While some books may recommend co-sleeping to build stronger bonds between parents and infants, other professionals strongly argue against it. Reports of accidental injury and worse have been known to result from co-sleeping, making it easy to see why people are either strongly against it. However, not everything is a negative result to co-sleeping. Here are the pros and cons of co-sleeping to help put things in perspective.
The Pros Of Co-Sleeping
Having been in practice since before recorded time, co-sleeping has a number of advantages that advocates are unwilling to give up. From syncing up parent and baby sleep cycles to encouraging close bonds, breasting, and even better sleep, below are several points that will try to push you towards an affirmative ‘yes’ on the topic.
1. Better Sleep For Babies
When a baby wakes up, it begins to cry. While the baby will usually go back to sleep on its own, he or she can be soothed to sleep quicker if close to parents. In addition, many parents argue that sleeping with their babies results in them going back to bed quicker then if left on their own. With babies going to bed quicker, parents can also return to sleep quicker as well, getting on average more sleep as a result of having their babies with them every night. It should be noted however that this is only true for both parents if each parent is fully in support of having their baby with them.
2. Creates a Closer Sense of Intimacy
Countless theories exist regarding proper parenting and intimacy with children. Seen as one of the most important things that parents can do, forming a tight relationship and dependency can lead to better development later in life. It is for these reasons and more that many parent choose to sleep with their babies. Working under the notion that a secure attachment type is critical to healthy psychological development, parents will do all they can to keep their baby close and happy during the night.
3. Encourages Breastfeeding
Co-sleeping makes it easier and more convenient for mothers to breastfeed their babies. This encourages breastfeeding with mothers. Given the added benefits breastfeeding provides for babies, it is no wonder that so many parents strongly believe in co-sleeping to promote this behavior.
4. Helps To Sync Up Sleep Cycles
One of the greatest challenges parents have is dealing with the general lack of sleep that comes with having a newborn infant. Adjusting to their sleep schedule while still being productive introduces a brand new series of challenges that may be harder for some then others. By sleeping with your baby, it helps to sync up your respective sleep schedules. Parents who slept with their baby found it easier to adjust and reported feeling less sleep deprived during the day.
The Cons of Co-Sleeping
While there are several good reasons for parents to sleep with their babies, there are also a number of reasons why doing so may not be a good idea. Some of these include having less sleep for babies, less sleep for you, potential risks for babies, and less intimate time among parents. Lets take a moment to review these in further detail.
1. Possible Less Sleep For Babies
Depending on the parent’s level of attentiveness, co-sleeping may in fact result in less sleep for your baby. Many first time parents are hyper vigilant when it comes to their babies’ needs. It is common for babies to make noises while they sleep, and even wake up momentarily before going to sleep again. If the baby if sleeping by itself, then the baby will make noise and then quickly return to sleep. If the baby is sleeping with the parents, then the parents may get up and try to care for the baby, waking the baby up as a result.
2. Less Sleep For You
While sleeping with your baby helps you to sync up your sleep schedule with his/hers, it also means that you and your partner will have less sleep as a result. Having the baby sleep in a different room means sleeping more soundly and longer before waking up to sooth the baby. By having the baby in the room with you, you will have more interruptions in your sleep.
3. Potential Risks
It is a parent’s worst nightmare. Having your child accidentally be injured or killed by sleeping parents does happen often enough to make sleeping with your child potentially dangerous. While we can promise ourselves that we would wake up if something was wrong or that we will not move during the night, caring for a baby means sleep deprivation that in turn messes with our ability to wake up if something is happening.
While the risk is relatively low, there are many parents who will not co-sleeping at all, despite the benefits because of the potential for harm.
4. You May Have Less Chance To be Intimate With Your Partner
Co-sleeping with your baby means less alone time between parents. When the baby is asleep, parents may not talk to one another or generally communicate. Having a baby can be a particularly stressful time for a couple, and removing this opportunity to talk and connect could cause harm further down the road. In addition, if the parents want to have sex, then having the baby accustomed to sleeping with them will create problems. Either way, intimacy with your baby may effect intimacy between spouses.
A Brief Summary
Regardless of where you stand on the subject of co-sleeping, the fact remains that we love, care, and want what is best for our babies. Those against co-sleeping mention the potential harm caused while those for co-sleeping mention the potential harm caused by not building up a strong attachment in those crucial formative years. As always, when it comes to figuring out parenting decision, it will be up to you to find what works best for you and your baby.