Where will baby sleep? It is not a question that gets much of a second though in our society, as most parents will automatically put their baby in a crib in the nursery. However, there are other places that baby can sleep that may potentially provide benefits to both the parents and baby if done safely. Co-sleeping, for example, is when the parents sleep in the same room or bed as their child. When the parents and child share a bed it is often referred to as bed-sharing.
Why, you may ask would someone choose to co-sleep? Well, there are many benefits to co-sleeping both for the parents and child. Our family chose, before our first was even born, to co-sleep due to the simple fact that we did not have room for a crib in our small apartment. So we began with a side car co-sleeper, called the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper. It simply wasn’t easy for me to use as a breastfeeding mother. While I didn’t have to get up and go to another room, I did have to get baby out of the side car and either sit up to nurse in bed, or just lie back down to nurse in bed. Well, my first was born via cesarean, so sitting up nursing was not an option without experiencing severe abdominal pain, so we learned to nurse side-lying. This took us naturally to bed-sharing, we decided within the first week that the side car just wasn’t for us, so we then used a secure sleeper in our bed, the Snuggle Nest Co-Sleeper. This made becoming accustom to co-sleeping much easier, keeping baby safe, us conscious of baby’s presence, all while still keeping night nursing simple. After about 4 months of age we no longer used the Snuggle Nest and moved into pure bed-sharing. We have 3 children and have bed-shared with them all from birth till natural transition out of our bed on their own, or next baby came along.
A few benefits of co-sleeping are:
- Breastfeeding Ease. The ability to nurse lying in bed and as often as needed for baby’s growing needs.
- Better Sleep for Everyone. When Baby doesn’t wake up screaming to feed in the middle of the night the entire family can get more rest. With Mother right near Baby when Baby begins to stir to nurse Baby does not have to fully wake, as Mother responds to Baby stirring and can quick fulfill Baby’s needs.
- Mother Able to React to Baby Quickly. With co-sleeping Mother is able to respond to Baby as soon as Baby begins to stir to fulfill Baby’s needs quickly whether it be nursing, diaper change, or moving to a more comfortable sleeping position.
- Bonding. Co-sleeping allows for parent-child bonding. One study has also shown greater self-sufficiency and independence at the preschool age in infants that bed-shared with their parents.
While there are some wonderful benefits to co-sleeping it is not without risk, and certainly is not for everyone. There are specific things that should be considered when deciding to co-sleep and to create a safe environment for baby in order to co-sleep.
How to safely co-sleep:
- Put nursing baby between mother and bedrail/wall
- Put bottle-fed baby in a side car next to mother
- Only co-sleep on a bed/mattress, consider putting it on floor
- Firm and smooth bed surface
- Smooth tight bedsheets
- Light adult bedding
- No heavy blankets, stuffed animals, or excess pillows
- DO NOT smoke, drink alcohol, do drugs, or take medications
- NO pets or other children next to baby
- DO NOT co-sleep if overly exhausted
- BOTH you and your partner MUST be committed to co-sleeping safely
Co-sleeping has been a beautiful experience and a wonderful benefit for our family. Maybe it can be for your family too.
Does your family co-sleep? What do you find beneficial and challenging about it?
In her free time, Leigh Anne runs her own business offering North Texas families natural living products at discount prices via her Dandelion Moon Co-op, Natural Living Expo, and future retail shop. You can follow Leigh Anne and her natural living life on Facebook.