If you’ve heard the word “co-sleeping” before, there’s a chance that it was in the middle of a heated argument.
There’s a lot of debate regarding whether co-sleeping is safe, and it turns out that there are ways to safely and not-so-safely co-sleep with your baby.
While many believe that co-sleeping and bed-sharing are the same, the two terms have different meanings.
Co-sleeping is the act of sleeping close to your baby, whether you’re sharing a bed or just sharing a room.
Bed-sharing refers to sleeping with your baby in a bed, typically your own. Due to the differences in bed size; bed characteristics, such as looser sheets than those in a crib; and sleeping patterns, bed-sharing is more dangerous than safe for babies.
Parents who bed-share increase the risk of SIDS for their baby. Many things can happen throughout the night that could harm or even kill an infant, such as parents rolling over and suffocating their baby or their baby falling off the bed.
Room-sharing, on the other hand, is the safer co-sleeping option. In fact, it’s recommended until the baby is at least 6 months old.
Instead of sharing a bed with their baby, parents who room-share sleep in their own bed while their baby sleeps in a crib or bassinet within proximity. Minus the snuggles, room-sharing serves the same purposes as bed-sharing: Parents can listen out for their baby while sleeping and tend to their baby more easily, while the baby can fall asleep more easily.
One arrangement that meets bed-sharing and room-sharing somewhere in the middle is the sidecar setup.
Sidecar beds resemble cribs with normal railing and siding, except one of the longer sides is open. This is so the baby’s bed can be placed against the side of the parents’ bed.
Parents who use sidecar beds remain at ease by keeping their baby close by but not so close that SIDS is a high risk. Regular cribs may be transformed into side car beds by lowering one side of the railing.
Aside from reducing the risk of SIDS by 50% compared to baby sleeping alone, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, co-sleeping has many benefits.
Not only can parents get more sleep by having their baby close by, but their baby can as well. Parents can be more attentive to their baby’s needs, which can prevent the baby from fully waking at night.
Additionally, having her baby close makes it easier for mom to breastfeed when needed. Mom can nurse her baby quickly, reducing the time that both will spend awake.
While co-sleeping may not work for every parent or child, it can help comfort both parents and babies while establishing a bond between the two.
If you find that your current routine changes, or you’re just not getting enough sleep, it won’t hurt to try co-sleeping, as long as you do it safely.
Written by: Leah Morton