Chances are that you know what co-sleeping is. But if you don’t, I’m here to let you know that it doesn’t mean sleeping with your dogs, cats, or spouse. It is a term that is used when a couple, specifically the mother, chooses to sleep with her baby. This is a common practice in many parts of the world including the United States.
How Many Families Co-Sleep?
There have been studies done to try to find out more about co-sleeping habits, and also to determine how many families are co-sleepers. The consensus is that about half of parents co-sleep with their babies at least occasionally. This is a personal family decision between the mother and father of the baby. It’s not for everyone, but for those who do it, most find it a great way to get some rest.
Benefits of Co-Sleeping
Babies, in general, like to be in mom’s arms or at least close enough that they can smell mom’s unique scent. Personally, I know I was able to sleep very well when my daughter was little because she was so content sleeping next to me. It also made night time feedings very easy. Because I breastfed my daughter, I didn’t even have to get out of bed to feed my baby. The only time that I had to get up was to change her diaper. In general, parents who are co-sleepers do it because they feel their baby is safer nearby and everyone sleeps better.
Tips For Co-sleeping Safely
Babies are fragile. Even healthy babies can suddenly stop breathing and die of sudden infant death syndrome. There are some things that you can do as co-sleepers to minimize the risk of any harm coming to your little one.
Make Sure Baby Sleeps On Her Back
Always have your baby sleep on his or her back. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is lower in babies who are sleeping on their backs as opposed to their tummies or sides. If you breastfeed your baby in bed on your baby’s side, make sure to transfer them onto their back after they finish nursing.
Both Adults Need To Know That The Baby Is In Bed
Make sure that your spouse knows that the baby is sleeping in the bed. Also, be familiar with your spouse’s sleeping habits. If your husband is a very sound sleeper, you may not want your baby sleeping in the middle. I personally always kept my daughter on the perimeter of the bed of my side. That way there was no way that she could fall out of the bed or be rolled upon, and I could keep an eye on her easily.
Don’t use covers, especially above the waist for the adults. Keep the blankets minimal and make sure that they are of a breathable type such as cotton. It’s better to dress your baby in a long sleeve shirt or pajamas instead of risking her suffocating under covers. The same goes for the couple. If you are cold, you may unknowingly pull a blanket up too close to your baby.
Be Aware of Your Sleep Habits
Know your own sleep habits. Personally, I’m a very light sleeper, and I became a lighter sleeper as a mom. I sleep a great night’s sleep but will wake at the slightest noise. I also would wake easily if my daughter moved. If you are a sound sleeper and feel you could roll on your baby, do not try co-sleeping.
Get A King Size Bed
Get a big bed. A king size bed is ideal for co-sleepers. To save money, a lot of families will even just buy a king size mattress and put it on the floor. The more room that you have, the more comfortable everyone will be. As your baby grows, you may notice that she is sleeping perpendicular to your body. A king size mattress will allow for more crazy sleeping positions.
Make Sure That The Sleeping Surface Is Safe
Make a safe sleeping surface. Be diligent about keeping sheets tightly fitted. Make sure that you and your spouse each just have one firm pillow. Sleep on the edge of your pillow, with the pillow body away from your baby. Some co-sleepers like to sleep a bit higher or lower on their bed than their baby. The goal is to minimize your baby from having contact with a pillow that could serve as a suffocation device.
No Alcohol or Smoking
Do not drink or smoke before bed – While smoking is an obvious no-no around baby’s little lungs and all children for that matter, some may think it’s ok to go to bed a little tipsy from a glass of wine or beer before turning in for the night. If you are choosing to co-sleep, it is important that you are alert even while sleeping. You do not want to lower your responsiveness at night with an infant sleeping next to you. If you absolutely want to drink on certain evenings, then do not sleep with your infant on those nights. Make it a rule.
If you’d like to feel a little more at ease with your baby sleeping in your bed, you might want to check out co-sleeper cribs. There are a lot of really cool co-sleeper cribs on the market to choose from. Some types will set right next to the bed, while others are made to be placed on the bed. For some couples, co-sleepers give them the peace of mind that their baby is close by but safe from being suffocated.
Co-sleeping is certainly not for everyone. But it is for many who couldn’t imagine not sleeping with their babies. For co-sleeping to be safe and to keep the peace in the family, both the husband and wife should agree to it. If one is not for it, co-sleeping may cause turmoil in the relationship. Both also need to be onboard so that they can follow the same safety habits that I covered in this article. If done correctly, and safely, co-sleeping can bring about a restful night’s sleep for all.