15 Greatest Benefits of Co Sleeping with Baby
Have you heard about the co-sleeping controversy?
Are you expecting a new baby and trying to figure out the safest and most beneficial way you can plan to sleep with your new little one?
Do you already have one or more children who are having difficulty sleeping at night?
Would you like to get a good night’s rest with your infant?
If you’re a parent looking for the best sleeping solution for your baby, look no further than co-sleeping. There are many benefits of co sleeping with baby, and you’re sure to enjoy each one throughout your child’s life. And if you’ve never heard of co-sleeping before, don’t worry! This article is here to help.
In the first part of our article, we will introduce you to the concept of co-sleeping and the different ways you can go about it. From there, you’ll learn about the benefits of co sleeping with your baby that you can expect no matter what stage of life your child has reached.
By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll feel like a co-sleeping expert. You’ll be ready to make the right decision for you and your child, and you’ll be well on your way to a quieter night of sleeping, too. Read on to learn more!
What is Co-Sleeping?
At its heart, co-sleeping is the practice of sleeping in the same bed with your infant or child. While there are many baby co sleeping benefits, this has been the center of many legal issues as well as ethical concerns about the safety and wellbeing of the children involved. Although there’s a lot of controversy surrounding the practice, it’s been a part of many cultures around the world for centuries and was even an important part of raising infants and young children in the United States up until several decades ago.
With so many advantages of co sleeping with baby, it’s no wonder so many people are starting to give it a try. Parents around the world are starting to sleep in close physical proximity to their children more and more every year, and for the most part, the results have been positive. In a 2006 study performed in India, for example, 93% of children shared a bed with one or both parents between the ages of 3 and 10. In the same year, a study performed in the United States showed that 15% of infants and toddlers did the same. Although the numbers aren’t nearly as high in the United States yet, there is a significant trend toward more co-sleeping as more parents come to understand why co sleeping is good for everyone involved.
Different Ways to Co-Sleep
There are a few different ways parents can practice co-sleeping. Some people believe that there is only one true way to co-sleep, while others think any of these different methods can fall easily into the co-sleeping category. But is co sleeping good for baby no matter which way you practice it? The short answer is yes—but it all depends on your personal situation as well as how your child responds.
- “True” co-sleeping – This is when your baby, infant, toddler, or young child sleeps in the bed with you every night. There are few exceptions to this in a true co-sleeping arrangement, and your child might not even have his or her own separate room at all at this point. Your spouse or partner must be on board with this type of co-sleeping if the two of you share the same bed. This will keep your child from having too many risks during the course of a night.
- Sidecar co-sleeping – Sidecar cribs are available that can be firmly attached to the side of the bed. They have three sides, with the fourth side open to allow easy access from the side of the main bed. This is a popular method for mothers of newborns who want to practice co-sleeping but don’t want to run any high risks of harming the baby during sleep. This method is almost as convenient as traditional co-sleeping, and it may be practiced into toddlerhood as well with trundle bed attachments.
- Separate beds in the same room – This is widely considered the best and most healthy way of co-sleeping with your child, although results may vary from family to family. In this method, your child has his or her own crib or bed in the same room as yours. You need only stand up and walk a few steps to reach your child during the night when he or she needs something. This provides a sense of security with almost none of the risk.
- As-needed basis – This is the type of co-sleeping many families are already familiar with. This means that the child has his or her own room (or may share with siblings), but is welcome to come and sleep in the parents’ bed on an as-needed basis. If the child has a bad dream at night or is upset about something, he or she can co-sleep with one or both parents. Always be sure both parents, if present in the bed at the same time, are aware of the child’s presence too, even if it’s the middle of the night.
Benefits for Newborns
There are many benefits of cosleeping with newborn babies. While you might be worried about the health risks of sleeping in the same bed with your newborn, there are many ways to ensure that this is done safely. Below are just a few of the most popular reasons why parents choose to sleep in the same bed with their new little ones.
1. Co sleeping with newborn benefits babies in a lot of different ways.
If the mother is breastfeeding, this can be a very convenient method of sleeping. If your child is sleeping in a separate room during the night, you have to get up to tend to him or her every time you hear a cry. This means a complicated breastfeeding cycle in the middle of the night when you and your baby would both like to just get back to sleep!
2. Nursing mothers can also get their sleep cycles in tune with their babies when co-sleeping is practiced from early on.
Since co-sleeping keeps you in close contact with your newborn, you’ll be able to tell when he or she is just starting to get fussy before the full-on screaming starts.
You’ll have better access to your baby during the night, too, and it’ll be much easier for you to form sleeping patterns that coincide with the needs of your child. Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself waking up in anticipation of a nighttime feeding before your baby even stirs!
3. Newborns are able to get longer nights of sleep from early on, making for more restful babies.
Newborn babies are often very unpredictable in terms of their sleeping habits. However, when they’re allowed to co-sleep next to one or both parents, they will start sleeping for longer periods of time in between waking up.
4. Co-sleeping can help your child foster the skills needed to get a good night’s sleep before he or she ever realizes it.
When you co-sleep with your newborn, you’re imparting the idea of a good night’s rest to your baby from the very beginning.
Benefits for Older Infants
While newborns can get a lot out of a co-sleeping experience, you will find several pros of co sleeping for older babies as well. This is the point at which many parents first begin co-sleeping, especially if they’re worried about their newborns in a co-sleeping setup. This is also a great time to determine if this is going to work for you and your family or not.
5. It’s easier for older infants to bond with parents over babysitters and other daytime caregivers when they are able to co-sleep at night.
If you (and any other parent or parent figure present in the household) are both gone all day at work, taking care of other children, or involved in other activities, you probably have to leave your baby with a sitter, another family member, or at a daycare. When you co-sleep, you’ll have a good chance to bond with your child at night and keep those family ties strong no matter what else might get in the way during the day.
6. Co-sleeping babies are able to keep their heart rates and temperatures more regulated than those that sleep in separate rooms of the home.
Sometimes, older babies have trouble with their body temperatures, and they may get too cold or too warm during the night without the ability to pull up a blanket or get something warmer to sleep in for themselves. It’s easier for their natural body processes to regulate and keep their temperatures right where they should be when children are allowed to sleep near their parents.
7. For babies that are old enough to start moving around a lot during the night, co-sleeping is safer than leaving them in a crib that could have a lot of safety concerns.
It’s entirely possible for babies to turn over in the night and sleep in a way that can lead to suffocation. They might also get a limb or even their head stuck through the bars of the crib, especially if you have an older crib that might not be up to current safety standards. When your child co-sleeps with you, you’ll be able to keep a close eye on any sleeping habits and interrupt anything dangerous before it has a chance to really happen.
Benefits for Toddlers
If you think co-sleeping is just for infants, don’t worry! There are a lot of benefits of cosleeping with toddler aged children, too. While toddlers might be ready to go to sleep in their own room, many will still want to sleep alongside a parent or two for many more years. You will need to make this decision based on how well your toddler keeps sleeping as he or she ages.
8. Several studies have shown that toddlers that co-sleep with their parents are less likely to be anxious and have behavioral issues.
Toddlers are often much more well-adjusted when they go to daycare or preschool if they’ve been practicing co-sleeping regularly. They may feel less concerned about naptime as well since they’ve grown up understanding that there’s nothing dangerous or scary about going to sleep. They may even feel better about accidents that happen while they’re sleeping since they’ve always had a parent nearby to help.
9. Toddlers who co-sleep have shown to be more trusting.
Sleeping alongside one or both parents is a good way to foster trust between family members. Toddlers can see that their parents are going to be there to protect them, and they then understand that it’s okay and safe to bond with people who are there to help.
10. Toddlers also learn to be independent because they don’t have any fear of being alone at night.
Being left alone to deal with scary dark shadows on the wall and suffer through nightmares alone can make toddlers become very nervous and clingy during their waking hours. This is often because they’re afraid of going to bed at night or not getting a good night’s rest. When these same toddlers are allowed to co-sleep, they show a marked improvement in these personality traits pretty soon.
11. Toddlers don’t have to rely on self-soothing methods like thumb sucking as much when they are in close proximity to their parents at night.
Toddlers who co-sleep often don’t suck their thumbs nearly as long because they know they have a parent close by to help keep them safe if they get scared. They might also be more likely to give up security blankets and similar items sooner than children who sleep alone in a separate room. Providing toddlers with a safe co-sleeping experience is a great way to help them break the habits of relying on security items and sucking their thumbs to feel better when they get scared.
Benefits for Older Kids
Older kids have the ability to choose whether or not they want to continue with co-sleeping. In some situations, there are a lot of advantages for kids who co-sleep into their later years. This is a decision you should make with your whole family involved, but remember that if everyone is still benefitting from the sleeping situation, there’s no reason to stop co-sleeping just because your child reaches a specific age. Puberty is the only real set cutoff point for co-sleeping.
12. Older children have shown increased bonds with their family members following co-sleeping.
Older kids who co-sleep with their parents don’t have a lot of negative feelings about their parents, and they also have a lot more trust toward their family members, just like toddlers do.
13. Older kids are also likely to be more confident since they feel safer at night.
They don’t have nearly as many fears to face on their own from a very young age, and therefore, they will be more likely to take more rewarding chances as they get older. They might be more likely to try out for sports teams or learn a musical instrument because of this increased level of confidence.
14. When older children co-sleep, they have better self-esteem than those who don’t.
Because they feel confident about themselves and don’t feel afraid at night, they are less likely to come up with reasons to feel negatively about themselves. They see that their parents want to give them attention and care, and this also makes them feel good. These positive feelings about themselves can carry over into later childhood, too.
15. This can provide children a chance to talk about their day in a quiet setting with their parent or parents before it’s time to sleep.
Sometimes, older kids feel like they can’t approach their parents for much during the day. Things are hectic, and from a pretty young age, kids can pick up on that. When you practice co-sleeping with older kids, they have the opportunity to speak up in this quiet downtime before sleeping. They might voice their concerns and tell you about a part of their lives you didn’t even know about.
16. Older kids always have the option to stop co-sleeping.
This is one of the best reasons to keep co-sleeping with them as long as they want to! Always make it clear to older children that, if they start to feel uncomfortable or just want to be adventurous and try sleeping on their own in another room, they always have this option. This will keep kids from feeling embarrassed if they have a sleepover and feel like the only one still sleeping in bed with a parent, and it also gives them a little freedom in terms of choosing something that feels right to them. Some children continue co-sleeping all the way until puberty with no issue.
Benefits for Parents
Does co sleeping help baby sleep better? Sure, but it does a lot for parents, too! Your child won’t be the only one enjoying the benefits of this popular practice. While it’s always important to make decisions about the well-being of your child based on his or her needs first and foremost, there’s no shame in wanting to make a choice that can help you as well. Many parents who co-sleep with their babies are happier, healthier, and much less anxious than those who don’t.
17. Parents will get a better night’s sleep when they don’t have to jump up and run to their child’s room many times during the night.
Can you imagine having a good, solid night of sleep with a newborn or infant? It’s possible! While you’ll still need to wake up to tend to your child during the course of the night, you won’t have to be nearly as wide awake when all you have to do is roll over and see what your baby needs. You won’t have to turn on a lot of lights, walk down the hall, and potentially wake up everyone else in the house either. Your baby isn’t the only one who’ll be resting better!
18. Parents will enjoy waking up seeing the smiling face of their baby nearby and will be able to take more time getting ready in the morning.
If you already have an infant, you probably understand how hectic it can be to leap out of bed at the first sound of your alarm, rush down the hall and start trying to get your child ready to go for the day. When your baby is sleeping next to you, you’ll be able to take your time. You don’t have to hurry off to see a child who might already be awake and fussy, and you won’t have to wake up in a state of worry because you haven’t heard anything on the baby monitor for a long time.
19. When children are sick, it’s much easier for parents to keep an eye on them and notice any health problems they need to take care of sooner rather than later.
If your baby’s temperature spikes during the night, your child starts to cough or any other strange symptoms occur, you’ll be able to notice them right away rather than waiting until the next morning to find out what’s going on. In the event that these are very serious symptoms, you will be able to take care of the medical needs of your child right away, too. This can be much safer for your baby and give you a lot more peace of mind, too.
20. In general, parents who participate in co-sleeping are less stressed and less anxious about their children than those who don’t.
While this isn’t always necessarily true, you’re giving yourself a good chance to be a lot less frazzled when you keep your child near you during the night. With less to worry about and more opportunities to sleep soundly, you’ll be getting your personal feelings back on the right track after having your baby in no time.
Tips for Safe Co-Sleeping
It’s always important to practice safe co-sleeping. No matter what age your child is, there are always things you could potentially do that could cause harm. Conversely, of course, there’s plenty you can do to keep your baby, infant, toddler or older child safe and sound during every night of co-sleeping. Follow the tips outlined below and don’t be afraid to do a little more research and digging to learn more.
- Be sure everyone in the bed is on board with the decision. If both parents aren’t in agreement with co-sleeping, then the situation won’t be safe for your baby. The parent who disagrees might forget completely about the child’s presence in the bed, and this can be disastrous if that parent then rolls over in the night without paying much attention. It’s also a good idea to refrain from co-sleeping if one parent is angry or if a fight has taken place recently. Even if you and your partner would never do anything to purposefully harm your child, sleeping in anger can lead to more movement and less control during the night.
- Be sure everyone in the bed knows the baby is there. If you go to bed later than your partner, be sure to wake him or her up when you go to bed with the baby. Make certain that your partner is well aware there is an infant in the bed with the two of you. This may be a little inconvenient for the two of you, but it can go a very long way toward ensuring the safety of your child while you’re sleeping.
- Always remember the possible risks of co-sleeping. If you feel like you wouldn’t be able to handle it if something terrible happened to your child while co-sleeping—even if co-sleeping wasn’t really the cause—then this might not be the right practice for you. Always consider your own mental state in terms of anything you choose for your child.
- Don’t let pets in the bed with your baby. Your dog or cat might be used to sleeping in bed with you, but you need to choose one or the other and not let animals and babies sleep in the same bed at the same time. This may be bad for your child if he or she has any animal allergies you don’t know about, but pets may also choose to sleep on top of your baby and lead to suffocation. In some rare instances, pets may become jealous and purposefully harm babies during the night, too.
- Never co-sleep with your child if one or both parents are intoxicated or heavily medicated. This is similar to making sure both parents are aware of the baby’s presence in bed. If one parent is intoxicated, he or she might not realize the baby is there.
- Never use a heavy quilt or blanket. If you must have something warmer for yourself and your partner, use something that doesn’t come up any further on your body than your waist. Only use light, breathable blankets around your baby’s face to prevent any airway obstructions that might occur.
- Keep your pillows far away from your baby’s face. It might be difficult during the night to keep from moving your pillows around, but you should always keep them far away from your baby’s face while co-sleeping. This can prevent accidental suffocation.
- Use a bed rail if you’re concerned about pushing your baby off the bed at night. Some parents are more peaceful sleepers than others. Some might throw pillows and blankets off during the night, and if you’re this type of sleeper, you should put up a bed rail to keep from accidentally knocking your child off the bed while you’re turning over in the night.
- Consider recording your sleeping habits for a few nights to see if there’s anything else you can improve. There are plenty of apps and products that can record you while you sleep. This can be an eye-opening experience that might show you something you didn’t even know you were doing while co-sleeping.
Now that you know about all the great benefits of cosleeping with baby you can experience when you try this practice for yourself, you might feel ready to spring right into it. If you’re excited about it, that’s great! Just remember that you can always learn more about any subject and that you might want to do a little bit more research before you decide if this is really the right decision for you and your family. Co sleeping with baby benefits parents and children both, but if the situation isn’t right, it can cause potential issues. You should always be aware of both sides of any decision you make for your baby’s health and wellbeing.
With that said, co-sleeping doesn’t have to be difficult to achieve in a healthy way! When you learn to practice co-sleeping correctly, you and your child can enjoy all the incredible benefits listed above for years of your baby’s life. You can co-sleep as long as you and your child both want to, and you’re sure to love the peace of mind you both achieve from this popular practice. There are a lot of reasons to give co-sleeping a try, so why not learn more about it today? You might be surprised at just how well it works for you!