There are several pros to co sleeping, but still the mainstream media tries to discourage parents from sleeping with their babies due to safety concerns. This is completely understandable. The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns parents against sleeping with their infants because this may put baby at risk of suffocation and strangulation. So also, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages co sleeping but encourages room sharing to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). While concerns are valid, co sleeping advocates would say that co sleeping is safer for babies, than sleeping alone. Why?
Decreased Rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In countries where co sleeping is the norm, the SIDS rate is low and often times the syndrome is unheard of. This is because babies who sleep alongside their parents are more likely to sleep on their back or side, which eliminates a good majority of the factors that play into SIDS (sleeping face down). Even the carbon dioxide exhaled by mom actually helps to stimulate the baby’s breathing patterns.
Decreased Stress and Anxiety. Infants want to be close to their parents, and sleeping in separate beds or rooms puts a fair degree of distance between you and your child. It leaves your child alone to decide whether or not sounds and lights are harmful, which can lead to them forming detached tendencies. Children who co-slept with their parents show higher self-esteem, less anxiety, and are more comfortable with affection. Obviously, this can curb a lot of psychiatric problems before they have the chance to occur.
Heightened and Stable Physiology. Numerous studies have shown that infants who sleep near their parents maintain more stable temperatures, hearth rhythms, and breathing patterns. Think of yourself as a metronome for your child, your autonomic functions help your baby’s body to regulate its own.
You’ll Both Sleep Peacefully. Of course there will still be nights where baby wakes, but overall, infants who co sleep startle less during the night. This is attributed to the closeness your child feels. If he or she awakens startled, they will quickly see their one comfort—you. Solo sleepers experience a great deal of tossing, turning, and crying. Though these things seem inevitable, crying releases adrenaline that raises heart and blood pressure and can ultimately lead to long term anxiety issues in your child.
Combining many aspects of attachment parenting helps your child in the long run. Co sleeping is akin to babywearing. Think about it: If your child is carried by sling all day, why would separation from your child at night be healthy? All of the benefits a child receives from babywearing are similar to those experienced by co sleeping, and it’s a great idea to incorporate the two together when raising your newborn.
For great resources on co sleeping, check out Dr. Sear’s book on co sleeping – The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Rest for the Whole Family (Sears Parenting Library)
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