How to sleep with a baby: Co-sleeping, bed sharing and room sharing

How to sleep with a baby: Co-sleeping, bed sharing and room sharing

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What a moment it is - Sleeping with your newborn infant…

The little hands touching your heart, the cute toes wiggling during sleep, the lips, eyes, and that small little nose making adorable movements...a baby is a blessing to any mother!

And sharing a bed with your newborn baby might be the best feeling in the world. The skinship strengthens the bond with your baby.

According to UNICEF - On any night, 22% of babies will bedshare. So, this is not uncommon between parents.

But, is it really safe for your baby to share your bed or room with them?

Co-sleeping, bed-sharing, and room sharing are three unique terms that have gained a lot of heat at the moment due to the different opinions of the people about these topics.

According to UK data, around half of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) occurs while co-sleeping! (However, 90% of these babies died in hazardous situations which are largely preventable)

So, with many people voting between the positive and the negative sides of co-sleeping, bed-sharing, and room sharing, it’s extremely difficult for any parent to choose the right sleeping environment for their baby.

And we understand that you could be someone who might suffer from anxiety at the slightest thought of having to sleep a room away from your cute little munchkin! We know how panicky the moment might feel.

So, how can you ensure the safety of your baby while deciding their sleeping arrangements? 

Worry not, because Crafted Beds has specially curated this guide for all new parents who want to bring the best for their babies. We will go through the spiral of co-sleeping, bed-sharing, and room sharing topics and speak about their pros and cons.

Put your baby to rest and take a moment to read this guide mum/dad - We promise it will be worth your time!

The difference between co-sleeping, room sharing, and bed-sharing

 

Before getting into the discussion of which method among co-sleeping, room sharing, and bed-sharing might suit you and your baby better - Let’s understand what are the main differences between the three terms, shall we?

Co-sleeping

 

Co-sleeping, a broad term, and usually a confusing term which many people describe in a variety of different definitions. But here is Crafted Bed’s take on the topic-

Co-sleeping is simply sleeping with your baby in close proximity, and it doesn’t have to be like sleeping with your baby on an adult mattress, but can include it as well.

When you choose to co-sleep with your baby, you can choose to put the baby in a crib/bassinet that attaches to your bed or is placed very close to the bed that you sleep on. Make sure to select the best crib mattress for your baby.

There are different types of cribs that are specifically designed for co-sleeping practises (although these products are new to the market). 

These cribs will have full sides except one of the sides that is attached to the bed, which is lowered or off altogether to provide more convenience to the mother. 

This method helps you to monitor your baby easily without having to move from room to room and also keeps you away from separation anxiety.

This method might not suit all mothers, but there are many countries like India, Japan, and Hong Kong, where this practice is extremely common and has proven to bring many benefits to the parent as well as the child.

Room sharing

 

Co-sleeping is a method of room sharing and room sharing is very similar to co-sleeping with a baby. In the room sharing method, you can choose to have the baby in a crib, bassinet, play yard, or portable crib anywhere in the room that you want to share with the baby.

But, the baby will not share the bed with the parent unlike in the co-sleeping or bed-sharing method. And this differentiates the room sharing method from the co-sleeping technique.

Now that we know the meaning of room sharing, let us comprehend the benefits that are attached to the room sharing method. 

  1. Sharing the same room with your baby helps to ease out the anxiety of separation.
  2. You do not have to keep monitoring your baby 24/7, because your baby is in the same room as you.
  3. This method greatly reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) that can occur during sleep.
  4. Room sharing makes breastfeeding schedules easier for both the baby and the mother. 
  5. It adds an advantage of aiding better sleep for a mother who wants to keep in touch with the baby and a baby who wants to be near to its mum or dad.
  6. This is the best technique known to reduce the risks of SIDS and is safer than bed-sharing or co-sleeping.

Bed-sharing

 

Bed-sharing stands by its name. It is sharing the same sleeping surface as yours with the baby. 

Although this seems to be an appealing method for parents who always want to be next to their baby and increase their skinship time, there is a hot debate between experts and parents about this topic.

So, why are experts against this technique?

It’s because of a good reason. Bed-sharing poses a huge risk for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) or SUIDs (Sudden unexpected Infant Death). This can be one of the riskiest activities to participate in, especially for parents who drink and smoke.

There are many risk factors involved in following this method. For example, rolling over the baby during deep sleep can cause suffocation to the baby, and when you are drunk, you won’t notice this at all!

But why do parents choose to share their beds with their babies despite the risks? 

Because, there are a few benefits that sometimes mask the risks associated with the bed-sharing method, they are -

  1. You get to share more bonding with the baby, throughout the night.
  2. You can rest assured that your baby doesn’t suffer from breathing problems or any other issues that can cause SIDS and can take immediate action if you sense any problem.
  3. For babies that are very close to their parents and suffer from separation, this could be the best method that puts them to sleep.

The benefits of co-sleeping

Fine, we understood what co-sleeping, bed-sharing, and room sharing stand for - But what are the benefits associated with co-sleeping and why should you consider this technique for your baby?

Well, this section is dedicated to discussing the same -

The 6 benefits of co-sleeping -

  1. You are someone who wants to keep your baby under your sight but does not want to share your bed with your baby due to the risks associated with bed-sharing. Then, this would be the perfect idea to follow.
  2. This eases the breastfeeding journey for you and your baby. You can easily nurse your baby during midnight without getting disturbed, moving to another room, or disturbing others in the family.
  3. Is your baby a bit fussy when it comes to sleep? Does the baby need more cuddling to slip to sleep? You can always do that with the co-sleeping method.
  4. Unlike the bed-sharing method, co-sleeping reduces the risk of SIDS because you can be monitoring the symptoms of SIDS very closely when you are co-sleeping.
  5. Once again this method reduces the anxiety for parents who are concerned about their baby’s health and want to keep them next to them while sleeping.
  6. And the best part of all - You get to wake up right next to your baby, which means you can see the cute face of your little bundle of joy before you start the day!

Psychological benefits of sleeping with a baby

Even though the co-sleeping method is always associated with SIDS, all mammals, primates, and the majority of the people from the non-western societies in the world decided to opt for this method!  

So, does this mean that this method has some psychological benefits associated with it? 

According to Greatergood, “One of McKenna and his colleagues’ greatest scientific contributions has been to show how parents serve as a kind of biological “jumper cable,” or outsourced regulator, to a newborn baby when she is completing her gestation outside her mother’s body.”

So, this means that the adult’s body can influence certain factors like heart rates, sleep state, brain waves, temperature, breathing and oxygen levels when they sleep close to the baby.

Not only this but when adults sleep next to the baby, it was found that the baby slept more lightly and roused more often. Although this might seem like an undesirable situation for most parents, it is one of the best practices for the baby.

This is because light sleep during the first few months of the baby influences the rapid growth of connection between the neurons and the newborns, also known as synaptogenesis.

When the baby and the parents co-sleep, it is found that both the parties sleep for a longer time. And good rest will help in good parenting by contributing to emotional regulation and decision making. A night of good sleep also reduces the risk of postpartum depression.

So, there are extremely good psychological benefits associated with co-sleeping or sleeping close to your baby. Sleeping with the baby not only adds more to the parent’s life but makes the baby more comfortable and forms a close bond with the parents.

Cons of co-sleeping

Everything has its evil side. And similarly, co-sleeping is found to be associated with some risks. Co-sleeping aids for better bonding and poses a lot of psychological benefits as we stated above. But it also causes a lot of repercussions.

Negligence during co-sleeping can cause extreme risks to the baby's life, which can also lead to the baby’s death. So, one needs to take care of the following risks and be extremely responsible. 

The 6 cons of co-sleeping -

  1. According to a 2019 study, co-sleeping or bed-sharing was one of the main contributors to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in babies of 0 to 5 months.
  2.  During a deep sleep episode, the baby might get trapped by bed frames, headboards, or footboards, and get suffocated or choked.
  3. The baby can also fall off of the bed, if not monitored carefully.
  4. The baby can get wedged between the bed and the wall, once again leading to suffocation and death.
  5. If you are someone who drinks and smokes, or if your partner does that, and your baby sleeps next to you or your partner, you or your partner might forget about your baby being close and cause severe problems by moving too close to the baby or rolling on to the baby!
  6. If you sleep with the baby on the bed, then you must remember that the adult bed might not be suitable for the kid (In which case you might need to check our guide on bunk beds for kids), and the pillows or blankets can cause suffocation to the baby.

Room sharing and bed-sharing

We have already discussed the meaning of room sharing and bed-sharing. Also, we have given a brief of the pros of both topics. So now, let’s get into the cons of room sharing and bed-sharing.

Cons of room sharing -

  1. The transition from the same room to a separate room for the baby can be extremely hard. If the baby is too close to you and has already formed the habit of sleeping with you, then the transformation to sleeping alone can be difficult.
  2. Of course, sharing the same room with the baby means that there is less privacy for the couple. If you and your partner need some time for yourself, it can be difficult with a baby in your room.

Cons of bed-sharing - 

  1. Bed-sharing increases the risk of SIDS. Room sharing is a great alternative to reduce the same.
  2. Parents cannot fall into a deep sleep, which might cause them to roll over the baby by accident.
  3. Less sleep for the baby as well - Because you might wake up to every single noise the baby makes and hence wake up the baby in the process. 
  4. Once again babies sleeping with parents can have difficulty moving over to a separate crib or a separate room altogether.
  5. Less privacy for the parents.

When to stop room sharing?

A newborn baby needs to be fed throughout the night and hence during the first 3 to 4 months, the baby might wake up due to hunger in the middle of the night, during which the mother has to be near the baby to feed or nurse the baby accordingly.

But once the baby reaches the age of 6 months or older, the baby might wake up due to habit and not because he/she is hungry.

And this means that the time has finally arrived to train the baby to get them into better sleeping habits and also to secure their sleep schedule. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends sharing the same room with the baby for the first 6 months or if you want, you can prolong the time till the first year.

So, once the baby reaches the 6-month mark or the 1-year mark, you can decide to move the baby to a different room according to the situation and the condition of the baby. 

The safest sleep environment for a baby

What does the sleep environment being safe mean?

A safer sleep environment is simply the sleeping space that is devoid of bulky and loose blankets, too many toys, cot bumpers, and head coverings which can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

The safest place to sleep for a baby is to put them in a  safe cot on a safe mattress combined with safe bedding. One of the best ways to ensure a safe sleeping environment for the baby is to buy a safe cot that meets the standards for the babies.

Also, never buy blankets that are bulky and can cause breathing issues to the baby. Do not let the blanket cover the head of the baby. Tuck the end of the blankets to the mattress, so that it always stays in place.

Conclusion

FAQ

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