Children have been found to have a healthier sense of self-worth when allowed to co-sleep, and most parents sleep better when co-sleeping. Also, there are ways to make sure that your baby is safe when bed sharing. (discussed below)
Breastfed babies do wake more frequent at night than bottle-fed babies, this is because breast milk is digested much faster than formula, but those frequent feedings are essential and very necessary for a baby’s development in the first few weeks. Co-sleeping with your baby can make things a whole lot easier for you and your partner during this time.
The safest place for a baby to sleep – night and day – is in your room. Place a crib or cot in your room with you for the first six months of your baby’s life. Your baby will always be close by – giving mom and dad peace of mind. You can hear your baby’s breathing and be alerted to any signs of discomfort or distress immediately.
The Benefits of Co-sleeping with Baby
You and your baby can continue to doze while breastfeeding. You can lie down while breastfeeding at night, and there is no need to switch the light on or get any bottles ready; this means a better nights rest for both of you.
A family bed provides the mother, father and the baby a chance to spend time together, especially if both parents work during the day.
It keeps a baby calm and settled, during and after feedings.
Studies prove that co-sleeping will encourage your little one to sleep longer stretches at a time, cry less and breastfeed more. (which is a good thing). Increased breastfeeding sessions, equals increased milk supply and encourages breastfeeding on demand.
Increased independence and confidence in the child.
If the below precautions are followed, co-sleeping with your baby can prevent SIDS, since the mother and her baby are awake often, and she can
keep a better eye on her baby.
Bed Sharing Safety Precautions
"Bed sharing" may also refer to a baby sleeping next to the bed in a co-sleeping crib or baby basket; this will mean that the mother is only an arms reach away. The crib can be attached to the bed or put next to the bed on the floor.
Just after a baby is born, our first thought tends to be: “Is my baby all right?" I believe a mother’s instinct to protect her baby is at its strongest once her baby is born.
Babies need a lot of sleep, and their safety should be of the utmost importance to us. Let’s take a look at ways in which you can contribute to a safer night’s sleep (or nap) for your bundle of joy, which problems or obstacles your little one may come face to face with, and what you can do about it.
The risk of SIDS is reduced if the baby is placed on the back to sleep, not on the front or their side. Studies found that the risk of a SIDS death for an infant placed on his/her tummy was much higher than those of infants who were put to sleep on their back.
The mother and father should not be under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.
There should be no habit of smoking in bed, or anywhere near the baby. Studies show that the risk of SIDS alone is 2 ½ to 4 times higher in mothers who smoke 1-10 cigarettes a day, versus those mothers who do not smoke. Passive smoking also significantly increases your baby’s risks of SIDS, and other breathing and lung-related risks.
Baby must always be placed on his/her back when sleeping.
Older children should not be allowed in the bed at the same time as the baby.
Make sure there are no spaces around your bed or its frame, into which your baby can fall or become trapped.
A baby should be placed next to the mother, not in-between the mother and father, as dads are less aware of babies in the first few weeks.
Never co-sleep on a waterbed or sofa.
Do not put any quilts, comforters, stuffed toys or pillows under or next to your baby.
Keep your bed away from strangulation hazards such as drapes or blinds.
Use a firm, flat mattress. Do not use a pillow under 12 months of age.
A mother’s hair should be tied up if it is long.
Avoid letting your baby get too hot. Research has shown that overheating from excessive room temperatures or overwrapping is associated with an increased risk of SIDS. Optimum room temperatures are 16-20 degrees Celsius.
Avoid letting your baby get too cold. If your baby should be too cold, do not cover your baby with bedding; this can cause smothering and or discomfort. Instead, dress your baby warmer, and place your baby in a comfortable swaddle, wrap or sleeping bag to provide them with a safer layer of warmth.
Keep your baby away from direct open windows and fans as these may cause respiratory problems.
Almost all the sleep experts suggest we not use pacifiers that are attached to a string/clip or baby’s clothing in any way. Pacifiers are said to be helpful for reducing SIDS, providing they are free from any means of entanglement. Personally, I try to discourage the use of pacifiers, read why here.
When it comes to a safe sleep environment for your baby, always make sure you use the safest form of clothing. Onesies, sleep sacks and other forms of one-pies, fitted clothing are safer than loose clothing items. It may not seem like much, but even their clothing can increase their risks when it comes to sleep safety.
How to End Co-Sleeping
Do it gradually, if your baby is sleeping in your bed, you can start putting him/her in a side bed at about six months, then from a year start moving the cot into a separate room. Sometimes this is not easy, but if you make the transition gradually, your baby will be more likely not to give you too much trouble.
Other Sleep Safety Tips
Unsafe sleep areas
Allowing your baby to nap or sleep on surfaces like couches and car seats are found to be very dangerous. Should baby fall asleep in a car seat or carrier, make sure the nap time is very short, or move the baby to their cot/camper as soon as possible and place them on their back.
When you buy a cot/camper for baby’s bedroom, make sure the bars are spaced evenly, at a safe distance to avoid entrapment. There are guidelines associated with safe sleeping cots and campers. Purchase from suppliers who meet these standards and guidelines. Avoid cots without any openings on the side. If baby’s head faces the side while sleeping, and there are no safe spaces to allow for breathing, your baby may get their nose and lips squeezed up against the sides and suffocate.
Sleep safety products and accessories
A snuggle nest
A sleep wedge
Inclined sleep support
Sleeping sac and clothing items
Sound and movement monitors
Digital, video sound and movement monitors
Night nursing can be tiring, but parents need to remember that this is a short time to sacrifice and is essential for a baby’s health and proper development. Treasure the memories and try to make the most of those special times together.