Pros and Cons of Co-Sleeping (Benefits and Drawbacks)

  • A great article to read if you are considering co-sleeping
  •  Know the pros and cons, plus the benefits of co-sleeping

Is your baby keeping you up all night?

Or are you an expectant parent hoping to keep your baby sleeping soundly as much as possible?

Have you heard one of your friends say “I co sleep with my baby” and wondered what he or she is talking about?

Co-sleeping has recently become a very popular method of making sure babies and very young children get a good night of sleep. Although this practice has been performed for centuries, there for a while, it got a lot of negative attention because it was attributed to several infant health issues. Today, co sleeping is a controversial subject but still remains pretty common.

So how do you know if co-sleeping is the right choice for you? In this article, you’ll find out everything you need to know about what co-sleeping is, how it’s done, and how you can make sure to provide a safe sleeping environment for your child. You’ll discover pros and cons of this practice so you’ll be better informed and able to make the right call.

Of course, you want what’s best for your child. When you have enough information to help you decide whether or not to co sleep, you’ll be making one more positive step toward safe and secure care for your baby.

PROS of Co-sleeping

As with anything, there are plenty of pros and cons of co-sleeping you should keep in mind before you make the right decision for your family. Take a look at these pros of co sleeping to help you figure out if this is the right choice for you and your baby.

  • Co-sleeping makes breastfeeding much easier and encourages breastfeeding to take place for longer. Of course, if you aren’t breastfeeding your child, you’re probably not too concerned with this! However, if you are, it can be so much easier to simply wake up a little bit at the first sign of your baby stirring, breastfeed normally, and then go back to sleep. This can be beneficial to both you and the baby.
  • Babies are able to get more bed sharing sleep during the night when they co sleep. Since parents are more in tune with the baby’s needs when they co sleep, they will be better able to tell when the baby first starts to fret and stir while still sleeping. Parents can then feed or care for the baby as needed before he or she completely has time to wake up and start screaming, which can spare the bed sharing sleep schedules of both parents and babies.
  • If parents are unable to spend all day with their children, co-sleeping may help strengthen their bonds together. Parents who are busy all day every day with work and with older children might not have enough time to set aside for baby. However, when co sleeping, parents and baby grow closer through natural bonding.
  • When parents sleep with their babies while bed sharing, you’re more likely to sync with his or her schedule very quickly. Biological mothers are often already pretty in tune with baby’s needs and frequently report anticipating a nighttime feeding before the baby ever wakes up. However, when you co sleep, you can encourage this syncing between any parent and the baby, and everyone will benefit from it.
  • Parent and child anxiety both will decrease when sleeping in close contact with each other. Children won’t go through nighttime separation anxiety, and parents who are very worried about the baby during the night won’t have to constantly wake up wondering if they heard a strange sound on the baby monitor. You will reduce the number of trips you take to the baby’s room during the night, and you’ll simply be able to roll over and check on your child without disturbing him or her or your partner.

CONS of Co-sleeping

You’ve probably heard a lot of people talking about the cons of co sleep, but why is co sleeping bad? Below, you’ll learn about some of the cons of co-sleeping you might potentially face.

  • There are potential risks when sleeping in the bed with a baby, such as accidental crushing or smothering with the blankets during the night. If you follow the safety tips outlined in a previous section of this article, you shouldn’t have too many of these risks to worry about. However, there are still concerns to keep in mind, and there’s always the rare chance you might cause harm to your child during the night without intending to.
  • Some people believe that SIDS is more common when co-sleeping, and some people believe it’s less common. Studies are still underway to determine the relationship between SIDS and co-sleeping, but for now, this is a consideration you should keep in mind. For the time being, the medical community believes that SIDS has a pretty equal chance of happening at random to babies whether co-sleeping or not.
  • If you also have pets in bed with you, you run the risk of not having enough room for you, your partner, your baby, and your dog. You also run the risk of your pet causing harm to your child during the night. Not having enough room to sleep in the bed means you have a greater risk of rolling onto your baby or pushing him or her out of the bed accidentally during the night. This also increases the risk of smothering with pillows or blankets. If you have a family pet who is used to sharing the bed, jealousy issues could cause rare but potential harm to the baby as well. (As a side note, if you’ll be co sleeping regularly, it’s probably best to train the dog to sleep in a separate area before the baby every arrives.)
  • Some people believe that co-sleeping is spoiling a child or otherwise contributes to emotional problems later on. There isn’t really any scientific research to back this up, but once again, it’s something to keep in mind. Some studies have shown that children or babies who sleep while bed sharing with parents are more likely to be able to pay attention better in school, while others have shown that co-sleeping can contribute to intelligence and performance issues in school. This is a situation that’s really best determined on your own based on individual family needs. However, it’s something bed sharing parents and babies should keep in mind.
  • A child who gets used to nighttime co-sleeping might need a parent around for daytime napping too. You might get your baby into the habit of having someone nearby every time he or she sleeps, and that could be very complicated if you don’t have time to lie down with your child for every midday nap. If you have to leave your baby with a sitter or at a day care, when naptime rolls around, this can cause even bigger problems! Not all children who enjoy bed sharing with their parents will form this habit, however.

Why can co-sleeping be beneficial for parents too?

Now that you understand a little more about co-sleeping, you might be asking yourself, “What is co sleeping with baby going to do for me?” While you should, of course, make this decision based on your child’s needs above your own, it’s normal to wonder what benefits you as a parent can get from this unique sleeping arrangement. Check out this list to learn more.

  • Co sleeping can actually help you sleep more. While you might think having a crying, screaming baby next to your face all night could be a problem when it comes to a good night’s sleep, you’re more likely to find yourself getting better rest when you aren’t having to wake up completely, walk to another room, and turn on a bunch of lights to tend to your child when he or she wakes up.
  • You will wake up feeling happier when you aren’t starting your day fretting about your baby in another room. As soon as your alarm goes off, you don’t have to jump out of bed and rush off to check on the baby. You can take your time waking up, tend to the baby in your own bed, and then get your day started like normal.
  • You will not have to struggle as much to put the baby to bed every night. When your baby gets a little bit older, he or she might start to have some anxiety when it comes time for bed. Baby might associate going to his or her own room with being away from Mom or Dad, and that can cause problems that only get worse as your child ages. You can avoid this altogether when you co sleep.

In the next section, you’ll learn the co-sleeping pros and cons for you and your baby both so you can decide what’s best for your individual situation.

Is Co-sleeping Right For You?

So, should parents sleep while bed sharing with their babies? It’s a hard decision to make, and since it’s a very controversial topic, you might find yourself worrying about what to do for a long time before your baby is born and well after, too. However, the best thing to keep in mind is that every situation is different. You don’t necessarily have to do the same thing your cousin, friend, sister, or even mother did! However, if their preferred methods work for you, then by all means, go for it.

If you feel that your baby sleeps better in bed with you, and if you’re committed to providing the perfect safe sleeping environment, then co-sleeping may be a great solution. However, if your partner disagrees or if you have a lot of anxiety about the what-ifs of co-sleeping, then it’s probably better to leave your baby in a separate room, or at least in a separate crib.

With the right information, you’ll be able to make the perfect decision easily and keep you and your baby happy and healthy well into the future. Co sleeping isn’t for everyone, but it’s perfect for some. Just remember to keep your sleeping environment safe, to judge when it’s best to start and stop co-sleeping with your individual baby and to keep all your potential pros and cons in mind before you make your decision.

When it comes down to it, a good, safe night’s sleep is the most important factor for you and your baby both.

Additional Research:

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Virginia R. Samuel
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About The Author

Virginia R. Samuel is a full-time working mother and the Editor in Chief of ABCKidsINC.  She has worked as a ghost writer for a variety of online sites as well as a research writer in the fields of breastfeeding and early childhood development, among other childcare-related subjects. Virginia presently loves her editorial work on ABCKidsINC, and hopes that the information and articles she has crafted over the years will be beneficial to other moms and dads who are just starting out on their parenting adventure.

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