Pros and Cons of Co-Sleeping With Your Baby

Thinking About Co-Sleeping With Your Baby?

Co-sleeping with your baby is actually pretty common nowadays. If you’re looking for a well-rounded solution for sleeping, then co-sleeping might be just for you and your baby.

What is co-sleeping? Co-sleeping is when you sleep in the same bed that your child/infant does. It also can include putting your child to sleep in your room/where you sleep but in their own separate bed. People often think that there’s only one way to co-sleep, but the truth is, there are many different ways in which parents can co-sleep with their child. There are many benefits co-sleeping with your baby! These include:

  • Co-Sleeping means that you sleep with your baby in the same bed each and every night. This keeps your baby from experiencing too many risks throughout the night.
  • Sidecar Co-Sleeping –this involves attaching a sidecar crib to your bedside so that your baby can sleep. This is a common choice for most new moms because it reduces the risk of anything dangerous happening to their child in their sleep.
  • Co-Sleeping “On-Demand” – this is the kind of co-sleeping that a lot of families are already familiar with. It entails having the child sleep in their own room but they’re welcome to sleep in their parent’s bed if need be. A simple example of this is a child who would join the parents if they had a nightmare or were upset for some other reason.
  • Co-sleeping in the Same Room – in this example, you would use separate beds while staying in the same room. This method is considered the healthiest/best way to co-sleep with your child. If anything happens during a night and you need to take care of them, you can do so because they’ll be right next to you.

My daughter and I share a room together. Sometimes she wakes up and cries for me, so I’ll get up, give her binkie to her and she’ll go back to sleep. Sometimes I’ll let her sleep in my bed with me, but my bed is quite small. Sometimes she ends up hogging the entire bed!

What are some benefits of co-sleeping?

  • It will ultimately help you and your baby get more sleep

  • It allows your son/daughter to practice self-soothing

  • You can tend to them from the comfort of your own bed

  • It helps strengthen your parent-child bond

  • It helps babies fall into day/night patterns naturally

  • Less crying during the night

Newborn babies often confuse days from nights. Most of them can sleep soundly throughout the day but are restless or wake up during the night. By keeping your baby close to you during the day and giving them signs that signal it’s day time such as having lights on or by being somewhat loud, they’ll start to understand the difference. By keeping them close to you during the night, and ensuring that their environment is quiet and dimly lit, they’ll start to understand and associate these things with nighttime.

Another interesting thing is that babies actually sleep much better if you’re close to them and if they feel secure. Because infants are hungry often at night, by finding the correct day/night pattern and utilizing co-sleeping, you’ll be able to help your baby whenever they are hungry which should allow both of you to get some well-deserved sleep at night.

What Is SIDS And How to Prevent It

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is an unexplained death that usually happens during sleep of a < 1 year old baby that appears to be relatively healthy. Surprisingly, newborns aren’t supposed to fall into deep sleep. You might think that sounds good, but it really isn’t. An interesting thing about co-sleeping is that studies found that when babies were frequently kept close by to their mothers, they were aroused more frequently. They aren’t fully awake in this state, but rather in a lighter sleep. This is actually considered safer for newborns. Self-rousing can be great for newborns because it helps them start to learn how to wake up by themselves if they sense something like danger, being too hot or cold, or if something is possibly obstructing their breathing. This is extremely useful and important because if they can achieve this, self-rousing can decrease their risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Babies require so much – and we all know that. Between feeding, soothing, and changing throughout the day and night, it can all get a little too overwhelming at times. At least if you’re co-sleeping, then they’ll be right near you, and in the event you need to do any of that, you can do so freely and with ease. The best thing about co-sleeping is the easier aspects of parenting it brings. If you were in another room, you’d have to go back and forth and get whichever items you needed to help your baby. With co-sleeping, you can do all of these things from the comfort of one room. It really helps take the edge off of things when your little one is right next to you and you can tend to them without much effort.

Interestingly enough, babies aren’t the only ones who prefer to be close to their parents. Studies show that many new mothers don’t sleep well if they aren’t near their baby. Of course, co-sleeping doesn’t guarantee that either of you are going to sleep better, but the safety and closeness of it all does keep many mothers’ minds at ease in comparison to other options. Fun fact: moms release oxytocin when they are nearby their children. Oxytocin is beneficial for breast-feeding and can help improve the quality of your sleep.

When you feed your baby on-demand, it helps you keep sufficient amounts of milk. Producing breast milk is simple supply and demand. The great thing about co-sleeping is that babies are often hungry during the night, and being close by allows you to feed them whenever they need to be fed. Most women actually produce the most milk during the early hours of the morning. Because co-sleeping allows you to see your baby mostly at night, so you don’t need to overwhelm yourself and experience painful breasts from overuse. Because you’re feeding your baby more when they want to be fed, it helps take some of the load off from you.

Nobody better understands the connection to your baby other than you (and your SO) and them. Being close by your baby lets them feel secure in the sense that they have someone close by to them who will always help them whenever they need something. Studies have shown that children who are close to their mothers were less distressed when the mother isn’t nearby. This might be because co-sleeping helps increase oxytocin (the love hormone) which plays a huge role in bonding and feeling a connection.

When your baby feels more secure and knows you’re close by, they’ll sleep better and be less fussy. Mothers who are co-sleeping with their child are better at noticing when there are hungry and can address hunger before they start crying. Co-sleeping is great because it involves less effort of you trying to get settled down. This results in much less crying.

The Three Categories of Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping can be divided into three separate categories. These are:

  1. Dedicated Co-Sleepers

  2. Temporary Co-Sleepers

  3. “Whoops, Now We’re Co-Sleepers”

The dedicated co-sleepers are couples, which can include single moms and usually have a family that includes all members including pets (not necessarily needing to sleep on the bed). This option is mainly for people who prefer attachment parenting and its ideology that was popularized by William/Martha Sears. They decided that when they had a son/daughter, that they would have them sleep next to them until they saw fit when they should sleep in their own bed. Regardless if took a very long time, they decided it would be best this way.

Short-term Co-sleepers – They are fine with having the baby with them in the first few months. They enjoy the bonding and convenience of having their newborn right by their side since they are nearby and breast feeding often. A lot of new parents want to be as close to their newborn as much as they can. Another option for these parents to consider is room sharing as a possible alternative. It checks all the boxes for their need to be close, and helps minimizes risks involved.

“Whoops, Now We’re Co-Sleepers” aka Unplanned Co-sleepers – These parents never planned to co-sleep, but it ended up happening anyway due to their baby wanting to sleep with them. Or, they couldn’t find another solution. Maybe this was a solution for them because they couldn’t figure out an alternative, or they didn’t know how to stop their kids from wanting to sleep with them.

Which Option Is Right for Me and My Family?

The process of deciding if you should co-sleep and how long you should co-sleep for is a long and tough process to consider. Many parents need to consider a variety of issues and reasons behind wanting to co-sleep. It helps to think back to your own childhood and what made you comfortable. Did you co-sleep/were you close or nearby to your parents and was it beneficial to you or not?

Busy moms who are working all day really need to give this some thought. Do they need the extra closeness to their newborn at night because they aren’t with them for most of the day? Of course, I’m not implying that parents co-sleep because they feel like they don’t spend enough time with their children, but it’s important to understand your own reasons to co-sleep so that you can make a decision that best suits your needs. Do you want to be as physically close to your child at night as possible? Or maybe you already are a stay-at-home Mom and spend enough time with them during the day. Each and everyone’s situation is different.

Remember folks, co-sleeping is a long-term commitment. You’re going to have to continue up until your child decides to use their own bed. This can take a very long time, and can even take years. Are you a light sleeper, are you a heavy sleeper, is them being in the room enough to wake you up and cause you to sleep significantly less? Regardless if it wakes you up, do you feel like if they are in a different room, you’ll be more anxious and worried? Do you prefer to watch TV until you go to sleep? At the very least, they will be somewhat of a disturbance and a noticeable one at that. You definitely won’t be able to get away with doing the things that you previously did with them in the room. If you use a laptop or tablet, they will be interested in and will do their absolute very best to try to play with everything. Getting work done or watching TV/videos is going to be significantly harder to do with them in the room with you.

Definitely give this some thought, because this isn’t something you’re going to want to change after a few months have passed. Transitioning your baby from your bed to their own crib when they’ve been in yours the whole time is going to be very difficult. It’s not going to be impossible, but it will most likely be a huge headache. If you do end up taking this route, slowly transition them. Don’t move them into their own bed and abruptly want and expect everything to be all right. After all, they haven’t even realized that your bed isn’t their bed.

If you are still interested in co-sleeping, you should definitely talk to your doctor about it. You should also go over the benefits and most up-to-date safety regulations/recommendations of co-sleeping. You want to make sure that everything is as safe as possible.

Some experts suggest that you should be using a firm, yet smooth mattress or even a futon that is seated close to you but away from all walls. It’s recommended to use well fitted sheets that are easily torn off. You can’t use any blankets or pillows during the first few months either. Waterbeds are big no-no. They are terrible for adults too haha. Triple check that there aren’t any soft spots or other ways in which your baby can be smothered or caught up. SIDS is a rare occurrence but is a mostly preventable one. You really need to consider a lot of things if you’re going to have your baby in bed with you.

Common sense: You Shouldn’t Sleep With Your Baby If:

  • You are obese

  • A regular drinker

  • Regularly use drugs or strong medications

  • Are very heavy sleeper

Be sure to check out my other post: How to Co-Sleep With Your Baby Safely – to ensure maximum safety and that you are aware of everything that comes attached with sharing your bed with your baby.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have your baby’s best intentions in mind. Definitely give it some thought and weigh the positives against the negatives. Planning and thinking things over beforehand with your SO is a good way to decide what’s right for both of you. Have any questions or comments? Leave em’ below and I’ll definitely take a look! Have a great day parents!

About the Author Elizabeth

Hi everyone, I'm Elizabeth. My beautiful daughter Alice keeps me awake occasionally...but when I'm busy and can't sleep, I post parenting tips and different ways you can get your baby to sleep soundly through the night, and even naps!