Just How Safe Is Co-Sleeping?
Co-Sleeping, the habit of a mother sleeping in the same bed as her baby, is seen as a controversial topic. Some people are vehemently against the practice, claiming it brings only risks to a baby’s health. Others claim there is no better way to bond with your child than to sleep in the same bed.
Keep in mind the potential downfalls and dangers of co-sleeping. Most serious is the worry that it raises the risk of ‘cot death’, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), as well as increasing the chance of suffocation or strangulation from pillows and blankets.
Beyond this, you and your partner may find that sleep is disrupted due to the baby’s wriggling and kicking during the night. Coordinating sleeping patterns can be an issue; working a baby’s sleep pattern around yours is unfair and disruptive to the child and in this sense it may be easier to have your baby sleep in a separate cot. In the long run, a baby used to co-sleeping may be more prone to separation anxiety and have more trouble being left with others and falling asleep if you are not there.
Alternately, many see only benefits to come from co-sleeping. Historically, mothers have shared their beds with their offspring and even today many feel it the best way to nurture one’s child. Some babies need more comfort and companionship than others, which can make co-sleeping a good idea.
Co-sleeping, many argue, allows extra closeness to one’s child, creating a stronger bond. Because there is less disruption caused between the baby waking and breastfeeding, it is also easier for both parties to fall back to sleep. As a result, babies who sleep with parents tend to wake less often and cry less. It also means the parent is able to respond to and reach the child immediately if there is a problem during the night.
Practicalities of Co-Sleeping
Should you decide to co-sleep with your baby, it is important to keep some safety tips in mind. Be aware of the safety risks that could raise the chances of SID. Avoid co-sleeping if you or your partner smokes, your baby was premature or had a low birth weight, or if you have been drinking alcohol or are taking prescription drugs.
When taking your baby into your bed, make sure your mattress is firm as soft mattresses can lead to suffocation. Also be wary of any gaps that could allow a baby to get trapped, such as gaps between the mattress and bed frame. Try electric beds for home use to increase comfort and support. They come in a range of sizes and are easily adjustable to perfectly suit your needs, whether sleeping or sitting up to breastfeed.
Don’t use a duvet if co-sleeping with a child under one year old to prevent overheating and suffocation. Additionally, when dressing your baby for sleep, make sure he/she is not wearing too much, as contact with your body will raise body temperatures. Generally, if you are at a comfortable temperature, then so is your baby.
Ultimately never leave your baby alone in bed, even if just for a few seconds. Instead, when you are not in the room, put your baby into a cot or Moses basket.
Naturally, whether co-sleeping works or not is dependent on both the parents and the baby. With a bit of trial and error, you should be able to, over time, arrive at the ideal sleeping arrangement for all involved.