Should You Co-Sleep with Your Baby?
Co-sleeping—sometimes referred to as "sleep sharing" or "the family bed"—is the practice of having your baby sleep in your bed with you and your partner each night. Find out if it's right for you.
The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night
Sleep on this: “All four of our babies have been welcomed into our family bed. My husband, Robert, and I have naturally allowed our children to share our bed, and our children have enjoyed sleeping in a sibling bed as well. The fact that we have religiously followed known safety recommendations for sharing sleep with our babies is of the utmost importance.”
Go for co: A true advocate of co-sleeping, Pantley piles on the rules for bringing a baby into your bed—including that you make sure not only the bed and bedding are safe, but also your entire room (talk about making room for Baby!). Her list of rules goes on and on, so make a checklist before bringing your little one to bed.
Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep on this: “If you decide that you want to co-sleep for a while, but that you want your baby sleeping in his own crib in the long run, it’s best to make the transition to the crib by three months of age. After three months, habits are fairly ingrained and it will be harder on your baby (and you) to make the change. So try envisioning where you would like your baby sleeping when he is a year old.”
Choose your own sleep adventure: Dr. Mindell also spends a whole chapter on the topic, making the distinction between co-sleeping as a lifestyle choice and as a reactive (read, desperate) attempt by the parent to help everyone get some rest. She also offers several helpful tips to make the transition from co-sleeping a less stressful and more restful one.
Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems
Sleep on this: “The decision should be yours, made by the parent or parents, based on your own personal philosophies, not on pressure from your child or from anyone else. Another family’s good or bad experience with co-sleeping or sleeping separately should not influence your decision: your child is not theirs, and your family is not the same.”
Choose your own sleep adventure: Again, here is an expert that says do what you want, as long as it works. If you try one approach and that doesn’t work, certainly try another. Dr. Ferber also presents an interesting analysis of the evolution of our species (and sleep habits) and the fact that co-sleeping has predominated history. Certainly no one, however, is advising trekking out with Baby to sleep in a cave.
The Everything Get Your Baby to Sleep Book
Sleep on this: “Perhaps the greatest beneficiaries of a family bed sleeping arrangement are the
nursing baby and her mom. When your baby wakes up beside you during the night and is hungry or just wants to suckle a little for the relaxation she needs to help herself back to sleep, she can latch on to a nipple and begin to feed. Some mothers under these circumstances don’t even wake up or awaken just barely, take note of the fact that baby is feeding, and go back to sleep.”
Go for co: You can find a whole chapter on the co-sleeping scenario in MacGregor’s guide. While she doesn’t flat-out advise parents to choose co-sleeping, she does offer plenty of pros and cons to ease making the decision. She does remind parents that if your baby wets the bed, it is your bed being soiled (and those large sheets are quite a pain to change!).
What to Expect the First Year
Sleep on this: “For some families, co-sleeping, or sharing a ‘family bed’ is an unequivocal (and cuddly) joy. For others, it’s merely a convenience. For still others, it’s a nightmare.”
Choose your own sleep adventure: Yet another expert stressing making your own decision, Murkoff also emphasizes that you need to consider how long you’d like the co-sleeping arrangement to last. Keep in mind the longer it lasts the harder the transition to solo sleeping will be, she says.
Sleep on this: “Many women lack the energy and interest in sexual relations after the baby is born. Don’t use the baby in your bed as an out. It’s important that BOTH parents want baby in bed with them. The truth is, Dad often ends up on the couch to get some sleep. Don’t sacrifice your marital relationship to any sleeping arrangement. Your baby needs happy parents.”
Choose your own sleep adventure: You may think they are siding with your husband, but Fields and Dr. Brown offer practical advice to help you decide if co-sleeping is right for your family. The bottom line for these experts: It doesn’t matter where your baby sleeps as long as it is safe and the entire family is happy with it.
Great Expectations: Your All-in-One Resource for Pregnancy & Childbirth
Sleep on this: “If you decide to co-sleep with your baby, check your bed and mattress for possible gaps, such as between the mattress and headboard, where a baby’s head or body could become caught. If you want to be extra safe, remove your bed’s mattress from its springs and place it directly on the floor.”
Choose your own sleep adventure: These experts offer pluses (co-sleeping may lower the risk of SIDS) and minuses (it is less private and Baby will have to sleep alone some day) to the co-sleeping routine. They say everybody is right when it comes to the co-sleeping debate, so again, the choice is yours.
The Modern Girl’s Guide to Motherhood
Sleep on this: “For the first few weeks (or even months) it’s perfectly fine—and quite helpful—to have your baby in the room with you in a bassinet, a cosleeper, or a Moses basket. It’s convenient for middle-of-the-night feedings and establishes a closeness and sense of security for the baby (okay, and you too!). While some people choose to have their baby in the bed with them, this is not the best idea.”
Say no to co: While she didn’t put her infants in her bed with her because she felt it would be dangerous, Buckingham recommends having Baby at least sleep in your room with you for a while. (She used a cosleeper—a mini-
crib that attaches to the bed and keeps baby at bed level but not in the bed—and loved that option.)
The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two
Sleep on this: “Sharing sleep seems to evoke more controversy than any other feature of attachment parenting, and we don’t understand why. We are amazed that such a beautiful custom, so natural for ages, is suddenly ‘wrong’ for modern society. Most babies the world over sleep with their parents. Even in our own culture more and more parents enjoy this sleeping arrangement—they just don’t tell their doctors or their relatives about it.”
Go for co: Most babies and mothers sleep better together, says the father of Attachment Parenting, Dr. Sears (basing his opinion on what he says science has proven and veteran parents know). Though he does insist you’re not less of a parent for not sharing your bed with baby, Dr. Sears does offer ways to deal with criticisms for those parents that do choose to co-sleep.
Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care
Sleep on this: “A parent who is an unusually deep sleeper or is under the influence of medications, drugs, or alcohol, might roll over and smother her baby. But for more parents, I think the risk of this happening is extremely small. A much bigger risk is that the parent might not get a good night’s sleep because of always being aware of the baby next to her.”
The Girlfriends' Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood
Sleep on this: “The
family bed concept is one in which new parents bring the baby into their bed and let her sleep there with them until it isn’t fun anymore. This concept, which would have been considered obscene by my parents’ generation, came along with that whole wave of returning to nature that included other such fun ideas as
natural childbirth and keeping the placenta in your freezer for good luck.”
Choose your own sleep adventure: Sarcastic or not, Iovine
makes some valid points about co-sleeping and how it benefits and works for some families. And in the end, she says your decision on a sleeping situation often gives in to your child’s needs. You know what they say about the best laid plans …
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