Co-sleeping is one of those topics that can often set off a sizzling debate. As with other controversial parenting techniques, co-sleeping is one that ignites passion on both sides of the issue. While each side perhaps has some merit, in making decisions for one’s own family, it is important to consider the pros and cons associated with a co-sleeping arrangement.
*What is co-sleeping?
Co-sleeping is when an infant sleeps in a shared bed with his parents. When baby comes home from the hospital, parents will bring their new baby into their bed and he may sleep there for a long period of time, depending on the parents’ philosophy about sleeping. Many cultures across the globe routinely co-sleep; however, in the U.S. it is more of a conflict. It is noted that styles of bedding may play a role into why it is such a divisive issue in the U.S.
*Pros of co-sleeping
Proponents of co-sleeping note several benefits of this practice and embrace attachment parenting.
Kids Health notes it encourages breastfeeding since baby is right next to mom in the bed. This type of convenience is also said to help baby get off to a great start with ongoing nursing and may also allow both mom and baby to get some much needed res; typically mom and baby will have “in sync” sleep cycles.
Another perceived benefit is for baby’s security of being close to his parents and to develop a stronger emotional bond, especially if parents are away from baby for extended periods of time during the day.
Many parents practice co-sleeping without issue, especially those that examine the risks and take action to reduce any potential hazards.
*Cons of co-sleeping
The primary drawback most associated with family co-sleeping is the danger of suffocation. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for over a decade has been warning about infants sharing adult beds, citing suffocation as a serious hazard. The agency pointed to a seven-year accumulation of data that revealed an average 64 deaths per year of children under two years of age; over 75 percent of the deaths were infants under 3 months old. Increased risk of SIDS is also often cited as a factor by those who oppose the practice of co-sleeping.
Experts often suggest room sharing, rather than bed sharing. For instance, a cradle, bassinet or crib placed in the parents’ bedroom.
In addition to physical danger, another potential disadvantage of co-sleeping is baby may have more difficulty becoming an independent sleeper when it comes time for him to move into his own bedroom and experience increased separation anxiety. Additionally, while a “pro” is more sleep, LiveStrong notes that it may be more difficult for some families to get a solid amount of sleep.
Deciding whether or not co-sleeping is right for you, it is important to look at the issue, consider your own personal situation and study all the pros and cons and weigh out the risks verses the benefits. Talk to your child’s pediatrician as well.