Co-sleeping (defined as sharing a common sleeping area with your child – whether it be the same room, bedsharing, etc.), offers a wide array of benefits to mom and baby. For our ancestors, cosleeping was a matter of survival, and this traditional sleeping practice is catching on again with today’s modern mamas. If you’re contemplating co-sleeping with your baby, read on to learn more about the benefits you’ll reap, and how to practice safe co-sleeping.
- Lower risk of SIDS: Babies who co-sleep have a fourfold lower risk of SIDS because they spend more time sleeping on their back, and it is believed that the exhaled carbon dioxide from mom/dad helps to stimulate baby’s breathing. Additionally, being close to your baby when sleeping means you’re able to immediately respond to baby if he/she stops breathing, becomes ill, or otherwise needs assistance. Babies who sleep next to their parent(s) have more stable body temperatures, more regular heart rhythms, and more regular breathing with fewer long pauses, which also contribute to a reduction in SIDS risk.1
- Increased success breastfeeding: Having baby close by means breastfeeding is easier, and mama learns baby’s cues easier. Rather than mom having to get up out of bed, walk down a hallway to baby’s room, get baby out of crib, feed baby, put baby back in crib, walk back to mom’s room, then go back to sleep, mom can simply answer her baby’s hunger pangs with little disruption. And since breastfeeding is also linked to a significant reduction in SIDS, this benefit is part of the aforementioned SIDS risk reduction.
- Better sleep for mom & baby: When babies sleep near moms, mama & baby develop coordinated sleep schedules (isn’t the human body amazing?), so that when one naturally rouses during the night, the other does too. This means mom typically wakes up a bit before baby wakes during the night, so she can either get ready to feed, or soothe baby back to sleep before baby fully rouses from sleep. Essentially, coordinated sleep schedules mean mama and baby can manage nighttime rousing without either fully waking up, thus falling asleep easier.
- Improved lifetime emotional health for baby: Co-sleeping has a profound impact on a baby’s emotional health, and the impact lasts a lifetime. According to Dr. Bob Sears (via several scientific studies), “Co-sleeping babies grow up with a higher self-esteem, less anxiety, become independent sooner, are better behaved in school, and are more comfortable with affection. They also have less psychiatric problems.”2
- Bond between mom & baby: Let’s face it. Moms are busy. If you work full-time, co-sleeping is an amazing way to reconnect and bond with your baby after a long day apart. If you’re a SAHM, co-sleeping is an incredible peaceful time to bond together, when you’re not running around doing housework or tending to your other children. This early connection with your baby will provide a lifetime of benefits.
Co-sleeping Safety Guidelines
- As in any sleep environment, baby should sleep on his or her back, on a firm surface, free of blankets, sheets, pillows, stuffed animals, bumpers, etc. Older siblings should not share a sleeping surface with an infant.
- Do not co-sleep on a couch, armchair, or other non-bed area. Waterbeds are also unsafe.
- Bedsharing is considered unsafe if you are obese, a smoker, formula feeding, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including sedatives to help you sleep). If you fall into any of those categories, you can still safely co-sleep, just not bedshare (read on to learn how!).
- Bedding should fit on the bed tightly, and the mattress should fit tightly against the headboard and footboard, and/or sides of crib, if using a side car crib setup. If the bed is pushed up against a wall, ensure that it is tightly pressed against the wall so there is no risk of the baby rolling over and getting trapped between bed and wall.
- Do not swaddle your baby if bedsharing. A swaddled baby is more prone to overheating, which increases SIDS risk, and not having the use of his/her hands restricts baby’s ability to move blankets/sheets away from face or alert parent in case of distress.
Co-Sleeping Product Spotlight
When done safely, co-sleeping offers incredible benefits as explained above, and many products are available to help give parents peace of mind when co-sleeping with their infants. Here’s one of our favorites!
Many parents are uncomfortable with traditional co-sleeping by way of bed-sharing, but they still want to reap the vast benefits of co-sleeping, as discussed above. For those parents, or those with any bed-sharing risk factors (very tiny/premature/low birth weight infant, formula-fed infants, moms who smoked during pregnancy or a baby who lives in a home with a smoker, obesity, alcohol/drug use, etc.), the Daydreamer Sleeper is the ideal solution. Parents can set the Daydreamer Sleeper next to their bed, or lay a mattress on the floor next to the Daydreamer Sleeper. Manufactured by Dex Baby Products, a standout company dedicated to providing only PVC/phthalate/lead/BPA-free products, the Daydreamer Sleeper is a safe option for co-sleeping or napping, and remarkably easy to take along with you, for families who travel.
Your baby will sleep soundly at a 28 degree incline (similar to a carseat), that’s perfect for all babies, but particularly those with reflux/colic. This slight incline helps babies sleep more soundly, which is something all parents dream of. The Daydreamer’s compact size allows parents to fit their snoozing baby in the master bedroom, providing quick and easy access to the baby for nighttime feedings, diaper changes, and comforting.
Daydreamer Sleeper’s breathable inner shell frame helps baby stay cool, and it’s waterproof seating area and machine washable cover (which we tested, twice!), is a must-have for diaper blowouts, spit-up, and any other baby messes that come your way. The easy-to-snap seatbelt harness keeps your baby safely inside the Daydreamer Sleeper, and is covered with soft fabric for your baby’s comfort. Three fabric color options are available to choose from, from sage green, to baby blue, to petal pink.
Please note that the Daydreamer Sleeper is to be used on the floor only, and never in a crib or in bed with you. Always take care to be sure that no blankets or other suffocation hazards are near your baby when using the Daydreamer Sleeper.
1Sears, R. (n.d.). Benefits of Co-Sleeping. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/sleep-problems/scientific-benefits-co-sleeping