We love the littles in our lives, but what is the best for everyone when it comes to sleep? Let's face it we have all heard both sides of the story, some experts and parents believe that co-sleeping works great it strengthens bonds, eases nursing and encourages more cuddles. On the other side, some believe it prevents babies and children from learning independence, sleeping by themselves, and causes more night-time disturbances. So lets look at the pros and cons of co-sleeping. Does the entire family jump in bed at night, or should we each stick to our own bedrooms?
- Co-sleeping can nurture emotional attachments between parent(s) and child.
- Co-sleeping enhances bonding and intimacy between parents who can't see their baby during the day.
- Co-sleeping makes daytime and nighttime breastfeeding more convenient, one study showed that co-sleeping infants nursed up to twice as much as non co-sleeping infants.
- Prolactin (milk producing hormone) levels are increased during more nighttime breastfeeding, this eases the nursing process.
- Co-sleeping allows nursing moms sync their sleep with baby's sleep cycle, "co-sleeping mothers often awaken just before their babies start to cry for a feeding and can nurse them back to sleep before they both fully awaken" (Mother Mag).
- Co-sleeping makes it easier to calm a crying infant back to sleep.
- Co-sleeping may help infants fall asleep easily and go back to sleep quickly during the night.
- Co-sleeping may help prevent SIDS by keeping baby from entering a sleep state that is too deep. The parent’s own breathing may also help the baby ‘remember’ to breathe.
- Evidence to support claims of emotional and psychological benefits of co-sleeping have not been scientifically documented. There is no scientific evidence that confirms co-sleeping enhances a better (or worse) emotional attachment than children who do not co-sleep.
- Some believe feeding a child to sleep during co-sleeping at night can extend beyond the age where overnight feeding is needed for nutritional value.
- Co-sleeping could lead to dependent and/or demanding sleep behavior and daytime behavior.
- Co-sleeping with an infant can prevent parents from receiving a healthy and good night’s sleep (with full range of motion) for fear/anxiety of rolling onto the baby.
- The parents’ bedtimes can be restricted and determined by the baby's bedtime.
- Over-attentive tendencies of parents may cause less sleep for baby and cause more harm then good.
- Co-sleeping with movements of an older child during the night often makes co-sleeping difficult and tiresome for parents.
- Co-sleeping and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is unclear and research is unfinished and continuing. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement says that "although co-sleeping may have benefits (such as promoting breastfeeding) there are no scientific studies suggesting that it reduces SIDS."
- The AAP advises against sleeping in the same bed for safety purposes (crushing baby, child falling off bed, etc.)
- Co-sleeping interferes with parents/partners sex life and important intimacy.
Sources: neuroanthropology.net, kidshealth.org, cosleeping.org, babycareadvice.com, mothermag.com, whattoexpect.com, sleepjunkies.com
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