Pros and Cons of Co-Sleeping
Some parents could not imagine sharing a bed with their children, while others embrace it. Co-sleeping is a hot topic that sparks plenty of debate. The truth is, it’s not for everyone, but it’s ideal for some! It all depends on the individual needs of each family.
We will outline the pros and cons of shared sleep, but first, let’s get some terminology straight. Co-sleeping is an umbrella term that covers different arrangements for sleeping together. Mainly, it refers to either room sharing or bedsharing. Room-sharing families sleep in the same room but in different beds. Bedsharing families pile into the same bed. There is considerable variation in how this plays out in each household. We will focus on the distinction between sleeping in the same bed versus different beds.
According to the safe sleep standards set out by the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants under one year of age should not bedshare. The risk of suffocation or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is too dangerous. However, the AAP does recommend room sharing over the first year to reduce the risk of these same dangers.
We will take a look at the pros and cons of both room-sharing and bedsharing. When we talk of bedsharing, we want to emphasize that this is for children older than one. Room-sharing might refer to any age.
Pros and Cons of Room-sharing
Eases Parental Anxiety
Let’s face it: new parents are a bundle of nerves. It’s not uncommon for them to wake up multiple times per night to go check if their little one is still breathing. This kind of anxiety is completely normal, but it can be wearing. If an infant is right there in the room, new parents can relax a bit more. The sound of his breathing and stirring can reassure mom and dad that’s he’s doing fine.
Calms and Reassures Baby
Biologically, an infant feels safe with his mother and becomes upset when separated from her. While sharing a room, her voice or a hand on his chest can comfort him immediately.
Makes Middle of the Night Feeding Less Jarring
New babies need to be fed throughout the night. Many babies will still need a feed until they are six months or older. In the early days, baby needs multiple feeds per night. Sleeping within arm’s reach can help mom get as much sleep as possible. Waking, feeding, and falling right back to sleep is more restful than trudging down the hall to another room and back. Plus, crying is minimized when mom can respond right away.
Reduces the SIDS Risk in Babies Under Age One
Sharing a room for the first twelve months has been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%. The AAP emphasizes room sharing for at minimum the first six months, but ideally the full first year.
Babies Wake Up More
Some babies do wake up more often and to and to an older age while room sharing. Whether is the smell of mom’s milk, or just the knowledge that’s she’s nearby, no one knows. Often transitioning to separate rooms is what makes the difference in reaching the milestone of sleeping through the night.
Babies Wake Parents Up
Sometimes babies are sleeping great, but parents aren’t. Even if they don’t wake and call out for mom and dad, babies can be noisy sleepers. This can keep their parents from getting a good night’s rest.
Pros and Cons of Cosleeping
Remember how we said room sharing reduced the risk of SIDS? The flip side of this is that sleeping in the same room can make it more likely for a parent to end up taking their baby into their bed out of sheer exhaustion. This practice can endanger young infants, especially when it is done spontaneously and out of desperation.
Pros and Cons of Bedsharing
Now we’ll get into the good, the bad, and the ugly of sharing your sheets with your children.
All the cuddles
You definitely won’t miss out on physical closeness when you’re in bed with your kids at night. Bedsharing is full of hugs and cuddles.
Better Sleep for High Needs Babies and Their Parents
Some babies need more help staying calm and getting the rest they need. Known as high needs, these kids can do a number on their parents’ sleep. Plus, they can struggle with behavior issues during the day since their own sleep is affected too. Letting high needs kids into the family bed can make a huge difference in everyone’s wellbeing.
Reconnection for Moms Going Back to Work
Returning to work can be a hard transition for moms and their babies. The two of them are biologically wired for physical closeness. Unfortunately, the realities of our society mean that sometimes too much separation happens too soon. Many times, children will begin waking more at night when their mothers go back to work. Sharing sleep can help them reconnect and adjust to daytime separation.
You Might Get Kicked in the Face
Sleeping with a toddler in the bed can be the opposite of restful. Many parents get kicked or relegated to the bed’s edge while they’re little own sprawls across the middle. Some babies will develop the habit of playing with mom’s hair or stroking dad’s earlobes, preventing their parents from getting to sleep themselves.
Husband Gets Stuck on the Sofa
When kids get into the family bed, it often means dad gets kicked out. Husbands probably won’t be happy on the sofa and wives may miss sleeping with their partner.
Tanks Your Sex Life
Obviously, if dad isn’t in bed, it’s going to be harder to be intimate. But even if he is, there’s nothing like a child in the sheets to kill the mood.
Sleep Training is Harder
Developing independent sleep habits can happen in a family bed, but it’s harder to make happen. Part of sleep training is helping kids learn to fall asleep without adult assistance. Weaning from that can be difficult when you’re literally right there.
Every family needs to weigh out the pros and cons of co-sleeping and decide what works best for them. Many will co-sleep for a temporary time and then transition. Some never will. Still others might end up like one of MonBaby’s senior members and push two queen beds together to make a “Megabed” shared by two children, two adults, a dog, and a cat! The main thing is, parents should consciously decide on the sleeping arrangements that work best. If you feel like you’re doing something because you simply have no other choice, you may need to re-evaluate. But when it comes to your ultimate choice, it’s all up to you!