A good way to strengthen your bond with your baby is to co-sleep. Co-sleeping produces many benefits, including your baby’s sensory development and social understanding. However, as with many things, co-sleeping should be practiced with care and caution.
Co-sleeping is basically the practice of sleeping next to or in close proximity to your baby. Traditionally, this is done by bed-sharing or sleeping in the same bed with the baby. In more recent times, there are already products aimed at co-sleeping, including bassinets that can be attached to the parents’ bed.
What are the advantages of co-sleeping?
Co-sleeping can have many advantages. While it is not for every family, choosing to co-sleep just might be the best decision for your family, and here are the reasons why.
1. It helps you and your baby sleep better.
For your baby, sleeping right next to you gives them a feeling of comfort and security. On the other hand, you can sleep continuously because you don’t need to get up to check your baby often.
2. It makes night nursing much easier.
Many co-sleeping families are also breastfeeding families, and this is for good reason. Rather than getting up to nurse your baby in the middle of the night, when co-sleeping, all you need to do is take out your breast and feed.
3. It reduces the risk of SIDS.
Co-sleeping also reduces the chances of SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Because you share the same sleep space with baby, you have more control over their surroundings.
4. It creates a strong bond between you and your baby.
This is a no-brainer. By spending a lot of time with your baby, you are creating an intense bond between the two of you. Your baby will definitely benefit from all the touching and cuddling!
5. It helps relieve stress and anxiety.
Finally, co-sleeping is also seen as a way to relieve stress and anxiety. After a long, hectic day of parenting, going to sleep with your bundle of joy may have positive effects on your mental well-being.
9 Things to Consider for Safe Co-Sleeping
With the benefits that co-sleeping comes with, it makes a lot of sense to have a go at it. But keep in mind that co-sleeping comes with certain risks that you need to prepare for. This means that you need to consider everything in order to make sure that you are co-sleeping with your baby safely.
1. Refrain from co-sleeping if you are a smoker.
Whether you are currently smoking or have smoked during your pregnancy, refrain from sleeping near your baby. With exposure to smoke, your baby’s risk for SIDS or suffocation increases dramatically. Aside from SIDS, exposure to secondhand smoke also triggers respiratory problems like asthma and other health problems like ear infections.
2. Refrain from co-sleeping if you are not sober.
If you are not sober, do not take chances – do not co-sleep! If you have been drinking alcohol, your awareness becomes limited and the risk of accidentally falling over your baby increases. This also covers taking drugs, both illegal and over-the-counter medicines that make you drowsy.
3. Your baby should sleep on their back.
Your baby should always sleep on their back whether you are co-sleeping with them or they are sleeping alone inside their crib. Reserve the tummy time for moments when they are fully awake and alert. But when they are about to sleep, the safest position is on their backs and without any obstruction to their noses.
4. Don’t let older children co-sleep with your baby.
A baby is said to be safest when sleeping with their breastfeeding mother. But your baby’s older siblings may not exhibit the same instincts and may accidentally fall over your baby. While your baby is little – specifically below 1-year-old – don’t let older children sleep with them.
5. Keep a clean, firm sleeping surface.
For a safe co-sleeping experience, it is also beneficial to prepare your sleeping area for said purpose. First, refrain from using lumpy or too-soft mattresses. Avoid waterbeds and beanbags; instead, go for firm surfaces. Also, make sure that your bedding sets fit your mattress properly. Always choose fully elasticized bedding sets that are made to fit standard size mattresses with deep pockets.
6. There should be no loose pillows, blankets, and plush toys near the baby.
Loose pillows, blankets, and plush toys are baby essentials, but during bedtime, keep them away from your sleeping baby. They may obstruct your baby’s breathing, increasing the risk of SIDS. A good replacement for loose blankets is a wearable blanket. It is worn over your baby’s head and provides warmth while staying in one place.
7. There should be no gaps between the bed and the wall.
After making sure that your bed’s surface is firm, clean, and free of clutter, you also need to check the gap between your bed and the wall. As much as possible, there should be no space between the bed and the wall that can trap your baby if they roll into it. This is true for both the side of the bed and the headboard.
8. Do not swaddle your baby when co-sleeping.
Swaddling your baby has many advantages. However, you should refrain from swaddling your baby when co-sleeping as it may cause their body temperature to rise. Instead, it is better to let your baby use a wearable blanket, which allows for some movement and freer air circulation.
9. Watch out for your hair, ties, cords, and other potential choking hazards.
Finally, watch out for other things that may pose risks to your baby. Always be vigilant and anticipate the possible outcomes of a certain thing, even if it seems to be safe enough. For example, your long hair might get wrapped around your baby’s neck, so always tie it or keep it in a bun. Also inspect your sleeping area for loose ties, cords, and other potential choking hazards.
Co-sleeping may be common, but this is a practice that should not be taken lightly. Without proper information and preparation, co-sleeping can be hazardous. But if you are armed with the right knowledge, co-sleeping will be beneficial to you, your baby, and your entire family.