For most parents, some (or a lot) of sleep is lost with the birth of a new baby. Every family has unique needs, children and nighttime patterns. As parents, we are bombarded with opinions about the best way to get our babies to sleep and it can be overwhelming to choose the “right” one. Let’s take a look at what co-sleeping has to offer and you can decide if it’s the right choice for your family.

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Co-Sleeping Benefits & Disadvantages: Is It For You?

As parents, we are bombarded with opinions about the best way to get our babies to sleep and it can be overwhelming to choose the “right” one. Let’s take a look at what co-sleeping has to offer and you can decide if it's the right choice for your family. 

So, what is it?

Co-sleeping in the broadest sense means sleeping in the same room as your child and is actually recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics  for the first 6 months to a year since it can reduce the risk of SIDS by 50%. Other types of co-sleeping include separate surface cosleeping- where your baby sleeps in a cradle or crib in your room, near your bed- and same surface co-sleeping/bed-sharing. Bed sharing is what most people think of when they hear talk about co-sleeping.

The Benefits

Dr. Sears, renown attachment parenting guru, has written about and studied cosleeping extensively.  Here Are a few of the reasons he recommends co-sleeping:

  • Babies that cosleep startle and cry less during the night which means more peaceful sleep
  • Cosleeping regulates baby’s temperature, breathing and heart rate
  • Co-sleeping babies actually spend more time sleeping on their backs instead of tummies
  • Co-sleeping babies grow up with a higher self-esteem and  less anxiety
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The Disadvantages

Any sleep plan that you choose will have its difficulties, things you will sacrifice and inconveniences. A few disadvantages to co-sleeping include:

  • Less space that is just yours. If room sharing, your space will be invaded by a bed for baby and if you choose to bed-share, your space is split with a little human as well as your partner
  • You may have to get creative with your sex life. You may have to choose another room and/or  quiet your lovemaking.
  • Your child will likely become accustomed to having you near and may have difficulty sleeping alone.

Our experiences

We have chosen to co-sleep with both of our children and have room-shared for the entire first year of each of our children’s lives. We felt most comfortable bed-sharing after they had good head control and only bed-shared when it resulted in the most sleep for the whole family. Bed sharing has made it easy to nurse on demand and reduced bedtime hassles. When our babies would stir, we would nurse immediately, simultaneously maintaining milk supply.

Co-Sleeping Benefits & Disadvantages: Is It For You?

Not to mention, we loved the nighttime snuggles and the sweetness of sleeping beside our little ones. Our daughter moved into her own room at 14 months and has never looked back (now 3yo). We will see how our second transitions but are feeling optimistic and flexible!

Make sure that whatever approach you take in your nighttime parenting that it is a choice that both you and your spouse feel comfortable and confident about. Take the time to have conversations about your thoughts and feelings about co-sleeping and other sleep solutions. If at any point you feel uncomfortable about your decision, try something new. Listen to your instincts and make a decision with love and compassion, not frustration and desperation.

Resources

Here are some other sources for learning about co-sleeping and whether it is right for you:

Alise Durkota
Alise Durkota
Alise is a mother of two who loves the slow, small town life. She is a teacher turned stay at home mom who loves cooking, her husband, going on long neighborhood walks, just about any baked good (with coffee) and playing with her children. She has a passion for all things childhood development, teaching, and learning.