Pros and Cons of Co-Sleeping with Your Baby
Those first weeks of motherhood can often be such a blur. Sleepless nights, constant feeds and a rush of emotions.
It isn’t uncommon for your baby to be rocked, bounced or pat to sleep. Unfortunately sometimes these options don’t work and parents need some respite. They become sleep deprived and desperate and will try almost anything to get their precious little bundle to sleep, for more than a few minutes at a time.
Why do parents co-sleep?
Co-sleeping is a controversial topic because while some families believe it is beneficial, others passionately disagree. Some parents choose to bed share while for others it is out of necessity. Whether you decide to co-sleep or not, there are definite pros and cons to it.
All four of my children were and are great sleepers but that doesn’t mean from time to time bed sharing didn’t happen. In those initial early days when my baby would cluster feed during the night and I was exhausted; I would bring bub into bed and breastfeed them. Sometimes I would doze off while they continued to feed and even though I was not in a deep sleep, it made a huge difference to relieving my tiredness. I felt that little bit more refreshed when I woke 5 minutes later to burp them. There were a few nights where I would wake after hours and move bub back to their bassinet or cot because while I was happy to bed share with my baby, I also didn’t want to risk their life. Obviously there are options now that allow you to co-sleep with your baby but in a safe way. These include bed attachments, adjoining bassinettes and in-bed sleepers.
In the early months, I had a bassinet in our room so I didn’t have to move far to get my baby to feed or to move them back to their bed. They could hear me and I could hear them. It was a mutually beneficial sleeping arrangement and I didn’t feel the need to have them in my bed for the whole duration of the night. It was a purely personal decision that was not based on anything more than selfishness of wanting my own space. Ok, so maybe there were a few more things considered but that was definitely one of them!
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Pros and Cons
If you have considered co-sleeping with your baby or are weighing up your options, you will have heard some of these already. Some may be new to you and others may just get you thinking.
Convenience – There is no doubting the convenience of having your baby in the bed with you, particularly if you are breastfeeding. You don’t need to get out of bed at all and can settle your infant back to sleep with ease before they fully wake. Which ultimately means more sleep for you!
Settled – Babies are more settled when they are with their mum or dad. They can smell you, hear you and feel your warmth. All four of my babies would settle almost instantly if I laid them on my chest and I believe it was because of these reasons that they did so.
Breastfeeding – When you breastfeed in bed throughout the night, it encourages your baby to feed more.
Bonding – The moments of bonding between parents and their babies should be taken whenever possible. This is a great option for some mums and dads.
Dependence – It has the potential to cause the baby/child to become reliant on their parents being there in the bed before they can sleep. They may also struggle to sleep in their own bed when you decide they are old enough to sleep in a separate room.
Troubled sleep – Some parents find that because they are more vigilant, knowing their baby is in the bed, their sleep suffers as a result of them sleeping lighter.
Danger – The jury is still out on this one but it has been said many times before that it is dangerous. Your baby could wriggle down under the loose blankets or pillows and suffocate, you could roll on to them or a number of other things. While these situations are unlikely to occur, it is a good idea to bed share safely and keep bub in their own bed next to yours, just in case.
Alone time – Having a baby sleeping in your bed eliminates this alone time with your partner. Yes it is important to bond with your new baby but this time is also important for mum and dad to feel connected as a couple.
I have always had the mindset that it is entirely up to the parents and the parents alone in every child raising decision they need to make. I have no judgement one way or another because that is the last thing parents need. We, as parents, need support, education and trust in our abilities as parents to do what works for us. If you co-sleep with your baby and it works for you, that is great! If it doesn’t, that is ok too. Just consider the pros and cons of co-sleeping with your baby before making your decision.
Do you co-sleep? What made you decide either way?