Should we really co-sleep?
There are a lot of big opinions out there on co-sleeping
Historically speaking, co-sleeping was normal practice and is still today for almost 90% of the worlds population, even when this sometimes means that the fathers sleep in another room. Putting a child in his/her own bed to sleep (especially for infancy) only began about 200 years ago. So why is this topic such controversy in the western civilization?
In the year 1999, a warning was put out advising parents not to co-sleep with their infants due to the fact that there had been an alarming amount of infant deaths. Some of these deaths were attributed to children sleeping with their parents. Yet, while the media had declared these deaths were due to co-sleeping, there were no specifics about whether these children may have died from crib death, by parents who were under the influence, or if the parents simply did not have a safe sleeping environment for the child (sleeping on a waterbed, excessive sheets etc.) There simply was no evidence to suggest that co-sleeping was dangerous, just reactionary to people co-sleeping irresponsibly.
My opinion on the matter after almost 4yrs of experience is —
I wouldn’t do it any other way. It came so naturally for us. We had bought a crib for our first born, and never ended up using it. Our little one wanted closeness in those first weeks and months, and we were more than happy to give it to him. I breastfed, which meant that night feedings were much easier when he could find the boob himself. He could smell me and know he was safe.
I had read articles about how co-sleeping lowered the risk of SIDS due to the fact that the carbon monoxide that we breath out triggers the baby to breath. I don’t know if this is true, but the opportunity to be more aware of your child, their breathing, and general state is obviously much easier when they are closer.
Now for what some people would perceive as the negatives
Some will struggle with co-sleeping as they fear they sleep too hard. Generally for new mothers, this is not the case. Instinct kicks in and although you are sleeping, you are sleeping with “one eye open” in the sense that the littlest things your baby does will register. Others worry that their partner will sleep too heavy and roll over on the baby. I can relate to this as my husband fell in to this category. We chose to always have a pillow between him and the baby if he was sleeping. Best for everyone.
And now that we have two littles that sleep with us we have upgraded and put another queen size mattress next to the old one and most nights I have both kids on one with me while he sleeps in the other. He is happy as can be as he has always liked his space during sleep. I, who likes being close during sleep, get a new understanding of “close” while my almost four year old is always trying to sleep on top of my face!
Another option for those who want to co-sleep, but aren’t sure if is for them can always start off using a baby nest to lay the baby in. So they can be in the same bed, but not completely free in the bed. I really would personally never suggest having a new baby sleep any further from their parents than a crib in the same room. Not only does sleeping together help sync mom and baby’s rhythms, but it also reassures baby. Remember they just came out from being in mommy’s womb for 10 months and everything is new except the sound of her voice and her heartbeat. Just as I would suggest for every new mother to try to breastfeed I would recommend for all new moms to try and co-sleep. Many websites have a lot of great information on co-sleeping tips. Here are a few that work for me:
- Baby should always sleep on their backs on a firm surface
- Don’t co-sleep on a waterbed, pillow or other extremely soft surface
- There should not be any loose pillows, sheets or blankets near your baby’s face
- Mattresses should be tight up against the wall or headboard
- Baby should not be able to move into a space or crevice
Let’s talk about sex….maybe?
Sex life while co-sleeping? Well, I guess when it comes to this one I have to revert to the common answer of, “ Is the bed the only place you have sex?” For the years of co-sleeping you will maybe have to spice it up a bit. At our house our kids usually go to sleep a few hours before us, and we have plenty of time to come up with shenanigans.
All this being said, if you take sleeping medication or are under the influence you should never co-sleep with your child.