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Touchy subjects: co-sleeping pros & cons

Touchy subjects: co-sleeping pros & cons

Co-sleeping: the best-kept secret of moms across the country. The controversy surrounding the practice has raised so much fuss that many parents feel the need to hide the fact that they co-sleep from other moms, their family and friends—even their pediatrician.

Despite the secrecy, recent studies have shown that over 50% of parents are co-sleeping at least some of the time. So if co-sleeping is one of your little secrets, you’re definitely not alone.

For those of you who aren’t in on the secret, co-sleeping refers to sleeping in the same bed as your baby. It’s also referred to as bed-sharing, but not to be confused with room-sharing, which means sleeping in the same room as your baby but not in the same bed.

There are definitely pros and cons to the practice. By educating yourself on the benefits and risks of co-sleeping, you can make the best decision for your family.

Pros & cons of co-sleeping

Benefits

Risks

Skin-to-skin

Bed-sharing promotes skin-to-skin contact, which has been shown to reduce physiological stress in infants.

Increased risk of SIDS

Studies show that room-sharing (but not bed-sharing or co-sleeping) reduces this risk of SIDS by as much as 50%.

Bonding

Many parents who bedshare feel that their emotional bond with their baby is strengthened.

Increased risk of suffocation

Pillows, blankets, loose bedding, soft mattresses, etc. found on an adult bed increase the risk of suffocation and/or strangulation.

Prolonged breastfeeding

Studies show co-sleeping can help increase the duration of breastfeeding, as moms who co-sleep can more easily breastfeed at night, and are more likely to continue long term.

Potential injury

With other people in the bed, there is a chance babies can be injured by parents that move or roll over in their sleep.

Fall asleep faster

Many parents co-sleep because it helps their baby fall asleep more easily and/or faster, which gives the parents better sleep as well.

Falling hazard

Adult beds are usually higher off the ground or raised with no railings or barriers, which means an infant could potentially fall off the bed.

Convenience

Instead of waking up and leaving your own bed to go comfort or feed your baby, you can be right there for your baby.

Tight spaces

Babies can get trapped in the spaces between the mattress and wall, headboard, or footboard

Connect sleep cycles

Your baby is soothed just by your presence, so it’s easier for them to stay asleep while transitioning between sleep cycles—which usually means fewer wakeups.

Harder transitions

Transitioning from co-sleeping with parents to sleeping alone in a crib can cause separation anxiety.

Emotional health

Some studies suggest that co-sleeping babies have less anxiety, higher self-esteem, and are more comfortable with affection.

Becoming dependent

Some studies suggest that co-sleeping can create a more dependent child whereas sleeping on their own can help to foster independence.

Impacts sleep

Some parents find they get to sleep longer and/or better when their child is in the bed with them because they don’t need to get out of bed as frequently to comfort their baby.

Impacts sleep

Some studies have shown that parents wake up more frequently when co-sleeping versus having the baby sleep in their own bed.

Physiology factors

Some studies have shown that infants who bed-share have more stable temperatures, regular heart rhythms, and fewer long pauses in breathing compared to babies who sleep alone.

Less privacy

When co-sleeping, your bed is no longer a space for just you and your partner.

Peace of mind

Some parents prefer co-sleeping because it allows them to closely monitor their baby throughout the night.

Peace of mind

If your baby is sleeping in the same room, but not in the same bed, they can still be closely monitored without the increased risks.

How do you feel about co-sleeping?

Your comments will help other Nested Bean parents make more confident decisions.We’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, or experience below. 

Want to hear what the experts have to say? We rounded up some helpful information in Ask the Experts: Co-sleeping

Christina Alario

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