There’s been quite a lot of talk about co-sleeping and bedsharing lately, so I thought I’d share some of my experience and some of the knowledge I picked up along the way.
Well, in all honesty, I didn’t choose bedsharing or cosleeping, my 2nd child made that decision for me. Let’s start there, leading right up to my daughter’s decision that bedsharing would be best for us.
My husband, our brand new daughter(our 2nd child together) got home after two sleepless nights in the hospital.(funny, I thought you were supposed to rest in the hospital) I’d probably gotten about 6 hours in those two nights. First night at home and I was exhausted just wanted to crash out already. It seemed she knew the exact moment I would drift off to sleep as she would start that newborn fuss and cry. This went on until 5am and I was delirious with lack of sleep and oh so frustrated.
We made our way upstairs where I decided to nurse her laying down. “Maybe I can put her to sleep with me beside her and just move her to her bassinet and….*SNORE*” We were both out like lights and sleeping like angels. I woke up 3 hours later, amazed that I hadn’t been woken once with her fusses and she was still sound asleep. I was in awe that my daughter knew exactly what she needed. Though, at the time, I figured it was just something she wanted rather than needed, but my husband and I were both content sharing our bed with her. My husband loved it and had done it with his previous spouse and older daughter.
I never imagined I would be a co-sleeper or bed sharer. Babies didn’t belong in their parent’s beds! What about rollovers! What about SIDS! Bedsharing and co-sleeping are possibly the most beneficial infant sleep practices that can be done when done safely. Key word: safely.
very little coverings, preferably a light breathable blanket or sheet
no persons under the influence of drugs, alcohol, sedatives or new medications with baby in the bed
Just to name a few. Those are the basics. Mothers that aren’t inhibited by intoxication tend to instinctually know where their babies are within the bed and are aware that their baby is beside them.
In his article on the benefits of co-sleeping, Dr. Sears says this about co-sleeping:
Babies sleep more peacefully
Keep more regular and stable vitals (heartbeat, breathing, temperature)
Decreases risk of SIDS(Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
Better emotional health
Safer than crib sleeping
Not mentioned in the article, co-sleeping or bedsharing can be a benefit to mothers who breastfeed. Baby and mom don’t have to full wake up during a feed. The mother can respond immediately to her baby’s needs.
Another piece by Dr. Sears and the work he’s done and been included in shows proven scientific evidence that bedsharing and/or co-sleeping is better for baby, especially in the early months of the infant’s life, stating:
“Our study revealed that Lauren breathed better when sleeping next to Martha than when sleeping alone. Her breathing and her heart rate were more regular during shared sleep, and there were fewer “dips,” low points in respiration and blood oxygen from stop-breathing episodes. On the night Lauren slept with Martha, there were no dips in her blood oxygen. On the night Lauren slept alone, there were 132 dips. The results were similar in a second infant, whose parents generously allowed us into their bedroom. We studied Lauren and the other infant again at five months. As expected, the physiological differences between shared and solo sleep were less pronounced at five months than at two months.”
While co-sleeping can decrease the risk of SIDS, the risk of suffocation when co-sleeping or bedsharing is not done safely is very real. It’s imperative parents are clear-headed and not intoxicated by any type of drug or alcohol when entering the bed with their infant. No heavy coverings may be in the top area of the sleep space, though they may be at or below knee level. The number of pillows are to be kept at a minimum of one per adult, which must be kept at head/neck level. The infant may not use a pillow as this is a suffocation risk.
Parents must take precautions to prevent baby rolling out of bed. Although this is unlikely as baby likes to be next to mom, it can happen. Some parents will take their beds off of the frame to make it closer to the floor, just in case so it’s not as far of a fall.
Try to keep baby on the opposite side of you than your partner. While you are instinctually aware of where your baby is, as a mother, fathers don’t have the luxury of always knowing that baby is right next to them and can roll over on baby.
A large bed is most comfortable. A queen or a kind sized mattress is usually best for a family of three sleeping in the same bed.
Some parents also find it beneficial to have a co-sleeper attached to their bed. They are either manufactured, which is what most parents prefer, or hand made. Pictured here(right side of the picture) is one that was made by a friend’s husband. (This was before their baby arrived, so they still have their large cover on their bed.)
Some parents may also prefer to side car their infant’s baby crib next to their bed, as another of my friends did with her daughter in this photo.
The possibilities and benefits of co-sleeping and bedsharing are endless when done safely and mindfully, just like with other parenting choices. Share your co-sleeping experiences or photos with us on our Facebook page!