Sleep methods tend to be a controversial topic among parents and professionals alike. Although common in many cultures, co-sleeping is still hotly debated in the UK and other western cultures. In fact, the NHS advises against co-sleeping – though many midwives and mothers will admit to having done so with their babies at some stage.
Personally, I’d never planned on co-sleeping but it was around the second week of torturous sleep deprived nights trying to settle a newborn Finlay into his mini-crib that I caved and brought him into the bed with us. Surprisingly, it felt natural to have him there beside me, where I could nurse him in a half dream state. I instantly loved having him so close and found I could relax knowing he was safe and ‘in tune to my sleeping rhythms’, which I had read about when researching how to co-sleep safely. From that first night we all slept better and found our evenings much less disruptive.
Finlay is now 12 months and still finds his way back into our bed at some point in the night. He goes down in his own bed for naps and bedtime, but wakes anywhere between 3 and 5am when he’ll typically come into our bed, which works fine for our small family. Though I understand some parents might find this disruptive, in which case the equally debated ‘sleep training’ method is sometimes preferred in order to teach babies how to self settle.
See Courtney Adamo’s post on co-sleeping here. Alternatively see Joanna Goddard’s post on sleep training here. As you can see there is no right or wrong, it comes down to what works best for your family.
Here are some of the pro’s for co-sleeping:
- If you’re establishing breastfeeding with your newborn, bed sharing can help. This can be especially helpful in the first month or two of your baby’s life, when frequent night wakings and breastfeeding are common.
- Co-sleeping enhances an emotional attachment between parent and child. Physical contact helps infants thrive both physically and psychologically.
- Co-sleeping may help to prevent SIDS as babies sleep in physiological harmony with their mothers. The proximity of the mother and infant helps regulate the infant’s breathing, sleep state, arousal patterns, heart rates and body temperature. – Via She Knows
And the cons:
- Babies who are used to being nursed to sleep do not learn to get back to sleep when they wake from natural sleep cycle, requiring their parents’ help well beyond infancy. This can also happen during daytime naps.
- Some mums sleep too lightly to get a good night’s rest while co-sleeping.
- If you co-sleep, will you have time in the evenings alone with your partner?
The main reason co-sleeping is considered such a no-no are the safety concerns. It may be unsafe if your baby is near loose blankets or sleeping on soft bedding. However, it’s parental smoking and drinking that are the biggest risk factors when combined with co-sleeping, as it increases the risk of rolling onto your baby. So if you do choose to bed share it’s vital to follow important safety measures.
If co-sleeping works for you and your child, don’t worry about what the future holds. Just remember that while some kids move to their own beds smoothly and gradually, other require a more firm and decisive stance from the parent to make the switch. But as long as you’re consistent and decisive when you change to independent sleep, your child will adjust. – Babble
Whilst we’re on the topic of sleep, here’s an interesting article shared by Courtney on having realistic infant sleep expectations. What about you? Have you co-slept with your babies or did you decide to persevere with a cot? I’d love to hear your opinions and what worked best for you.
– Steph x