The Cosleeping Debate

Cosleeping, in case you weren’t aware, is the practice of having babies or young children sleep in the same bed with their parents. Common in many countries, it is somewhat frowned upon in the United States and Western countries, but it is an idea that is gaining some ground.

Those who support cosleeping point to several benefits which appear to be associated with it, including:

  • Helping parents and babies get sleeping schedules in synch. Cosleepers suggest that babies learn to emulate the sleep patterns of their parents better this way.
  • Convenience for breastfeeding. Mom and baby being there next to each other can make breastfeeding much less of a hassle. Studies seem to bear this out, and cosleeping moms, by and large, do have more success with breastfeeding.
  • Adds to the closeness between parents and their baby. It is claimed this is especially true of parents who work away from home and have less chance to connect with baby.
  • Helping baby sleep more at night, and sleep through he night more quickly.

Of course, cosleeping has detractors for a reason. Here are some of the arguments made against cosleeping:

  • Parents can roll over onto their babies, harming or even killing them.
  • Softer mattresses and bedding on adult beds could contribute to the possibility of SIDS in infants.
  • Potential danger of baby getting wedged between the mattress and headboard or footboard.
  • Potential problems with nap time and other sleep times when parents aren’t going to sleep with the child.
  • A baby in the bed can make it more difficult for parents to get a good night’s sleep. Intimacy can also be negatively affected by baby’s presence in the bed.

Most experts still do not recommend cosleeping, but there are some notable and well respected exceptions. If you are considering cosleeping, make sure that you consider the possible dangers. Perhaps a better option is to have baby’s crib in the same bedroom, so baby can still see mom and dad without actually being in a bed that is not designed for babies. Another option would be to allow baby to fall asleep with you, but transfer her to her crib once she is asleep.