Pros and Cons of Co-Sleeping - Bed-sharing vs Room-sharing
Co-sleeping has become a widely controversial topic in the realm of parenting. Advocates claim that it can help with bonding, while others claim it to be an unsafe practice. Knowing all the pros and cons of co-sleeping can help you and your family make an informed decision. In this article, we will discuss the basics of co-sleeping and list out some pros and cons.
What is Co-Sleeping?
Co-sleeping is the practice of sleeping close to your newborn. There are two main subsets of co-sleeping, bed-sharing, and room-sharing. Bed-sharing is when you and your infant sleep in the same bed together. Room-sharing is sleeping in close proximity (within the same room) but not sleeping in the same bed together. There are many people who claim that co-sleeping is a dangerous and unsafe practice. These claims are largely in regards to bed-sharing and not room-sharing.
Staying Safe While Co-Sleeping
Co-sleeping in and of itself is not necessarily dangerous and can have beneficial effects. Some women choose to have a crib located close to the bed so that the baby can be close but not in the same bed. The main danger of co-sleeping comes when you introduce bed-sharing. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns against bed-sharing because it can lead to an increase in SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The safest way to co-sleep is to share a room with your infant but not share a bed with them. If you want to be near your baby you can always try placing a crib or bassinet right next to your bed. You would still be able to touch and be near your child while you sleep, but they will not become endangered.
In addition, the AAP suggests a baby sleep in a separate crib/bassinet with a mattress and a fitted sheet. There should be no toys or blankets or pillows in their beds until they are about 1 year old.
Pros of Co-Sleeping
When it comes to co-sleeping there are actually a large variety of benefits. For this list, we will indicate whether the benefit is a claim of room-sharing or bed-sharing. This will help give you a more well-rounded view of the benefits and allow you to make an informed decision.
- Decreased risk of SIDS by 50% (room-sharing). According to a study published by NPR, the risk of a baby dying from SIDS is 50% lower if the child sleeps in the same room as their parents.
- Skin-to-Skin Contact (bed-sharing/room-sharing). Skin-to-skin contact reduces physiological distress in infants. While this claim is usually attributed to bed-sharing, room-sharing can also show the same benefits. You can still have some skin-to-skin contact with your baby without sleeping with them.
- Bonding (bed-sharing). Many parents who bed-share feel as though the emotional bond with their child is strengthened. This is not unfounded, as studies have shown that people who sleep together often trust each other more. Similarly, some studies have suggested that bed-sharing allows children to develop a stronger emotional attachment to their parents.
- Breastfeeding/Convenience (bed-sharing/room-sharing). Advocates of bed-sharing also tend to cite breastfeeding as a pro. This is because it is easier to breastfeed a baby when you are sleeping in the same bed as them. Similarly, it is convenient. There is no need to leave the room or get up in the middle of the night. You can simply turn over and breastfeed. It also makes it easy to comfort your baby if they are not fussy or not feeling well.
- Sleep Cycles (bed-sharing). Your presence in the same bed as your child helps them stay asleep in between sleep cycles. This prevents them from waking up throughout the night and in turn waking you up as well. It also helps your child continue to stay on a regular sleep pattern even when their sleep cycles are changing.
Cons of Co-Sleeping
Many of the cons of co-sleeping are against bed-sharing in particular. Similar to the list above, we will indicate what the con is in regards to. This way you and your family can make an informed decision.
- Increased risk of SIDS (bed-sharing). As mentioned above, room-sharing can decrease the risk of SIDS, however, bed-sharing increases that risk again.
- Increased risk of Suffocation (bed-sharing). An infant is not supposed to sleep with anything in their bed until they are about a year old. Blankets, pillows, sheets, and other things found on adult beds pose a risk of suffocation.
- Increased risk of Injury (bed-sharing). In addition to the risk posed by blankets, other injuries are more likely to occur when bed-sharing. There is the risk of the baby getting stuck somewhere (between the headboard and the mattress). There is the risk of them falling off the bed. And there is the risk of one of their parents injuring them when moving or rolling on the bed.
- The transition can be harder (bed-sharing/room-sharing). The transition between co-sleeping and sleeping in their own room can become harder. If your child is already accustomed to sleeping with you, they may be less inclined to sleep by themselves later on.
- Less Privacy (bed-sharing/room-sharing). At the end of the day, you and your partner may want some alone time away from your child. If they are co-sleeping there is less privacy.
Co-sleeping is when you and your baby sleep in close proximity to one another. Room-sharing and bed-sharing are two of the main ways that parents choose to co-sleep. There are many pros and cons of co-sleeping and making a decision can be difficult. Ultimately, the decision is a personal one and it is up to you and your family to choose what is best. If one of your main reasons for choosing to bed-share is the ease of nighttime breastfeeding, why not try a Bellefit nursing bra. Bellefit’s nursing bras are easy to clip-down and are comfortable and supportive. They make it easy to breastfeed your baby without the hassle. Invest in a good night’s sleep by purchasing a Bellefit nursing bra today.