‘It’s anything but comfortable!’, befriended parents said. ‘You wake up with your child’s foot in your face or get hit by him when he turns over in his sleep. Plus, you wake up ten times at night and are so tired the next morning.’
Besides the apparent discomfort of having a small child sleeping in your room or in a bedside crib, I’ve also heard people claim that co-sleeping creates an unhealthy bond between parents and their children.
With all these worries and warnings, surely it’s a bad thing to do? But does it feel wrong for the parents or the children?
All mammals co-sleep with their children — except human beings
In our medium community, I’ve read loads of articles in various pubs about this important topic. For instance,
Megan Benson confessed to co-sleep with her kids and has zero regrets or Granolamommie about why bed-sharing is for today. Emily Hinson is weighing the risks of co-sleeping. Laura Fox has been shamed for the choice to co-sleep with her daughter or Katie Knight about the shaming of how parents sleep. Moreover, Tom Fenske about what’s best for the child is also best for parents.
Additionally, after consulting self-help books about sleep, to put it in a nutshell: in wildlife documentaries, you see mammals intuitively sleeping with their children for their protection and safety. The practice, of course, has a biological advantage: it keeps the offspring safe from predators stops them from getting eaten. On the other hand, human beings are the ONLY mammals who do NOT sleep with their child. We put a baby down to sleep, alone, and wonder why he’s calling out even though he is evolutionarily programmed to freak out when left alone.
Perhaps the better question is: ‘What is wrong with us?’
Will you one day regret co-sleeping?
‘Co-sleeping,’ according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, means the practice of sleeping in close proximity to your baby— sometimes in the same bed or in the same room. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends ‘room-sharing with your baby until he’s at least six months old, and possibly until his first birthday, however, it’s important to note that it strongly recommends against bed-sharing because of the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
So even though room-sharing is encouraged, you may well have encountered its critics who believe that co-sleeping children grow up to have an unhealthy bond with their parents that makes them overly dependent. They claim the same old tired theme, you may also hear from your monster-in-law:
‘Don’t put your baby into your room. Your child will become insecure. One day, you’ll be sorry for co-sleeping. It’s the first-class treatment, and he’ll never want to sleep on his own in his room.’
Children who co-sleep have a strong spirit and thrive better
In fact, studies show the exact opposite. Babies and toddlers who co-sleep are less likely to have behavioral difficulties such as ADHD (
ScienceDuuude Christopher Robin).
Studies also show that children who room-share with their parents have:
- strong ties with their parents
- self-efficacy to venture out into the unknown
- the feeling they can trust and rely on their parents no matter what
- the confidence to do things, to tackle them, and to try out new things in their daily lives
- the ability to entertain themselves, get dressed, and work out problems on their own when they are preschoolers.
Therefore, their parents are their safe haven. They feel they can return at any time. This helps children thrive in order to be the best they can be. Co-sleeping can improve a child’s spirit and can make it strong.
Intuitively find your own night-time parenting style
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you have to share your room with your child at night. I’m just saying it’s more than ok, perfectly natural and intuitive to do so. At the same time, I think it’s ok not to co-sleep if your child doesn’t seem to feel the need for it. Your baby’s safety is crucial.
As far as my husband and I are concerned, at night, we still keep our ten-month-old baby close to us and sleep in one room together. We installed a crib within arm’s reach and connected it to our bed. Our baby also has his own bed in the nursing room, where he takes naps during the day.
We share the same room space but don’t share our bed space with him. That’s our simple and clear ‘own bed’ rule. Everyone falls asleep in his or her own bed. If our baby awakens at night, we’re available within seconds to emotionally soothe him during the night by caressing his belly, giving him his pacifier or milk.
If he can’t fall asleep, we put him into our bed for a moment and lay him on our chest or belly. The sound of our breathing and our chests rising and falling relaxes him. He then begins to feel sleepy again, and we put him back in his crib.
Don’t feel sorry and do what feels right for you
As crunch-time parents, we are tired, and we need sleep. So this arrangement is the best for us because everybody is getting the most out of their night’s sleep. Our baby is aware of our presence, and we experience less interrupted sleep. Our baby doesn’t have to call out and wait for help because his needs aren’t met. Nobody has to get all the way up out of bed, walk down the corridor, and into the nursing room. None of us fully awakens, and we can quickly drift back to sleep.
Night-time parenting can be joyful as well.
In the early months of motherhood, sometimes my baby and I used to sleep belly-to-belly when he fell asleep at my breast. Then, before he started stirring, I breastfed him and then placed him in his ‘Babybay’ (it’s like a ‘sidecar’ or bassinet; a German brand) within arm’s reach of the bed. But to be honest, in this period, I slept horribly, that is, my Fitbit told me I’d experienced a lot of lighter or REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep with a lot of interruptions. I was groggy and hungover. Although it’s common for a young mother to lose her sleep, this period was devastating, and my pulse went up due to sleep deprivation.
Retrospectively, this was a hard time and only a short time in my child's total life and my own motherhood. That’s why I’m aware that our co-sleeping time is only temporary — yet the memories of availability and love will last for a lifetime.
After nine months, we tried a little bit of sleep training (specifically, the so-called ‘No-cry sleep solution’). Still, our little boy (evolutionarily) didn’t feel safe alone in his room and oftentimes started crying.
In my opinion, sharing our room and with our baby is a mindset. We think that our baby is a little person who has big needs — during the day- and nighttime.
Final Take-Aways: Co-Sleeping. Yes, No?
- Like anyone, I don’t know what the future will bring. Our baby is ten months old now. Maybe one day he’ll insist on falling asleep in our bed. But our credo is that we want to stay firm and calm and live our ‘own bad’ rule in order to have the best night’s sleep possible.
- Of course, the other mammals that co-sleep with their children don’t have to go to work the next morning as we do. But it’s also wise to rethink our own (fixed) mindset.
- Find your own night-time parenting style. Do what feels right for you and your child.
- Only you can truly know your family’s specific needs, and you should feel free to make the choices that best serve you.
- If you already co-sleep with your baby, don’t feel guilty. It’s not strange. It’s quite natural and healthy — for you and your child.
To good night’s sleep and unique night-time memories that last a lifetime,
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