Like breastfeeding, co-sleeping ranks high on the list of the most controversial parenting topics known to modern day moms. While many moms and experts advocate believe in the benefits of co-sleeping, probably the same number of moms and experts avoid the practice like the plague.
This is understandable as co-sleeping, in general, has polarizing effects. For some, the benefits are great, while for others, the disadvantages can be grave. To give you a background, let’s discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of co-sleeping.
5 Benefits of Co-Sleeping with Baby
- Co-sleeping helps them sleep better, as sleeping next to you may give your baby a feeling of warmth, comfort, and security.
- Co-sleeping makes night nursing easier and more convenient. This is because you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night!
- Also, with constant skin-to-skin contact, co-sleeping may help create a strong bond between you and your baby.
- Finally, co-sleeping may have positive effects on your health and mental well-being as it helps relieve stress and anxiety.
But on the other side of the coin, co-sleeping with baby — especially when it’s not done properly — may result in some disadvantages like SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This usually happens when the co-sleeping parent is not sober. Some also say that co-sleeping disrupts the dynamics of the relationship between husband and wife.
However, you need to take note that not all disadvantages are true. Some take root from common co-sleeping myths, which came as a result of not fully understanding the practice. While co-sleeping does come with real risks, you need to be able to distinguish the truth from the myths in order to practice it correctly. So what are these myths?
5 Myths About Co-Sleeping
1. Co-sleeping is not common.
If you think you don’t know anyone who co-sleeps with your baby, then you’re probably wrong. According to a study made by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 26% of households in the US practice co-sleeping “always” or “almost always.”
If we combine this figure with households who practice co-sleeping “sometimes,” then around 44% of US households has practiced co-sleeping with their babies.
2. Co-sleeping is always unsafe.
Co-sleeping can be as safe as how you want it to be! In order to co-sleep successfully, there are certain safety guidelines that you absolutely must adhere to.
First, remember that it is your role to keep your baby’s bedtime as safe as possible. Co-sleeping should be avoided if you or your partner is a smoker. You should also avoid co-sleeping if you drink or take medications that make you drowsy.
Second, the bed should be free from clutter and objects that can potentially obstruct your baby’s breathing. Save the plush toys and rattles for your baby’s nursery!
Third, always lay your baby on their back. While tummy time is beneficial, when your baby is asleep, they should always be lying on their backs to avoid any breathing obstruction.
You should also be on the lookout for potential hazards like a gap between your bed and the wall, loose ties and cords, even older children.
3. Co-sleeping causes your baby to grow up dependent and clingy.
A lot of moms are discouraged from co-sleeping with their babies because of unsolicited advice. One example is the common notion that co-sleeping causes a baby to become clingy. However, the truth is that it is not your sleeping arrangement that causes clinginess but their personality (which has been there since birth!) and their natural temperament.
Contrary to this myth, newborn babies actually need to be held and embraced a lot. This is vital in helping them trust the people around them, helping their social intelligence mature. This growth will eventually help them become well-adjusted children and adults.
By the way, it is also important to note that during periods of transition, like switching from bottles to sippy cups or moving to their own bedrooms, children will adjust differently from one another — just like adults! To help them adjust smoothly, it helps to have them use a transitional object like a soft blanket.
4. Co-sleeping kills romance.
Unfortunately, another common reason why otherwise fit parents opt out of co-sleeping is the notion that it disrupts their sleep and their romance. However, the more plausible reason why couples who just had a baby are not having sex is sleep deprivation. It helps to be able to have enough sleep in order to have the energy required for intimacy, and what practice is proven to help new moms sleep more restfully? It’s co-sleeping.
5. Co-sleeping is for everyone.
Co-sleeping may be common, but that does not mean that everyone should co-sleep. Many families have lifestyles that will not be suitable for co-sleeping. For example, parents who are smokers should limit their baby’s exposure to secondhand smoke; thus, co-sleeping should not be practiced.
There will also be times wherein one parent desires to co-sleep while the other is reluctant. Co-sleeping is a commitment, which means both parents should be able to reach an agreement or, at least, a compromise beforehand. Remember that co-sleeping is not the be-all and end-all of parenting. Your baby will actually prefer their parents to live harmoniously rather than in conflict over co-sleeping!
Co-sleeping has many benefits that may — arguably — trump the disadvantages. With that said, this practice comes with real risks that should be avoided using correct and safe practices. Before co-sleeping with baby, look at all the angles and learn how to distinguish the real benefits and disadvantages from the myths!