As a new mom, you might have noticed how many times you need to wake up during the night to feed your baby, especially during the first few weeks and months. Whether you are nursing on demand or every two to three hours, you will have to wake up several times during the night. This naturally makes you want to co-sleep. Co-sleeping can either mean sharing the same room, with your baby close to you in a separate crib, or sometimes even sharing the same bed, often referred to as bed-sharing.
Though the Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you should keep your baby in the same room with you and not on your bed, other specialists and researchers have a different view on the subject. Studies suggest that co-sleeping, including bed-sharing, is very common among most parents because of its intrinsic relation to breastfeeding. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.
- Co-sleeping helps to minimize sleep disruption - Having to wake up several times during the night and go to a separate room each time you hear your baby cry can be disturbing. Worse still, you would never be able to sleep well as your “mom brain” would always be tuned in to listen to your baby.
- Helps to keep up breast milk supply-One of the tricks of keeping up breast milk supply is to nurse your baby often. When your baby nurses frequently during the night, it minimizes issues of breast milk supply.
- Helps to keep your baby well-fed and happy - Co-sleeping is great for breastfeeding as your baby won’t have to fully wake up and cry till you feed them. This makes them less cranky and keeps them happy, which in turn allows them to nurse well and keep up nutrition. This also builds trust in your baby.
- Allows you to rest - When you co-sleep and breastfeed, you won’t have to rouse from your sleep completely. If you allow your baby to lie beside you, you can rest while your baby feeds. If your baby needs a diaper change or just a cuddle during the night, you will be right beside them!
- Helps you to recover from postnatal depression - Postnatal depression is very common among moms. Giving birth can be a difficult and traumatic experience for some moms, and it does not matter if it is your first baby or not. Having your baby next to you will bring positivity and bonding.
- Keeps your partner engaged- If your baby is co-sleeping in a crib, your partner can bring the baby to you instead of you having to always get up, hence allowing you to share responsibilities in caring for your baby.
- SIDS-One of the biggest concerns relating to bed-sharing is the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). When a baby’s death occurs through SIDS, it is usually used to describe an unexplained or unspecified cause of death.
- Alcohol and drug consumption- Babies who co-sleep with a parent who has consumed alcohol or is intoxicated with drugs are at a higher risk of experiencing an accident during the night.
- Co-sleeping with older siblings or pets-It is extremely unsafe for babies to co-sleep with anyone other than their parents. Co-sleeping with other siblings or pets can be dangerous.
- Obesity- Obesity can cause an issue when co-sleeping with a baby. Lack of space on the bed and not being able to feel where your baby is during the night can accidentally cause you to roll over onto your baby.
- Sofa-sharing-It is not recommended that you share your sofa, armchair, or beanbag with your baby as this increases the risk of accidents.
- Overheating - While co-sleeping, there is the possibility of overheating; or the risk that your baby’s head can get covered, and this could lead to death.
- Sleep problems later on - Co-sleeping makes it more difficult to transition to a room and bed of their own and maintain regular sleep patterns later on in life. But this can be sorted out with sleep training and other methods.