What is Co-Sleeping?

Co-sleeping is when mom and baby sleep in close proximity to one another. That may be in the same bed, same sleeping surface or in the same room on different surfaces. There are many different ways to co-sleep, and each have their own set of benefits for both baby and mom.

Types of Co-sleeping

There are a variety of different ways that you and your family can safely co-sleep if you so choose.

Bed-sharing/Family Bed:
Child sleeps in the same bed as parent(s)

Sidecar Co-sleeping:
A crib is securely attached to one size of the parents bed. Three sides of the crib are left intact, however the side beside the parents bed is lowered or more often removed. The crib is secured (not mobile) to ensure there is no gap between the two. This allows mom and baby to sleep close to one another without baby being on the parents mattress.

Separate Surface Co-sleeping
A crib or bassinet lives in the mothers room but is not directly attached to the parent’s bed. When a child grows out of their crib this often means that a small bed is placed on the floor next to the parents bed.

What are the Benefits

According to Dr James McKenna, PhD and director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame:

“Studies have shown that co-sleeping with a breastfeeding infant promotes bonding, regulates the mother and baby’s sleep patterns, plays a role in helping the mother to become more responsive to her baby’s cues, and gives both the mother and baby needed rest. The co-sleeping environment also assists mothers in the continuation of breastfeeding on demand, an important step in maintaining the mother’s milk supply. ”

Learn more from Dr. James McKenna:

Bed-sharing Safety Checklist

If you decide that bed sharing is right for you, ensure that you take every measure to do so safely.

  1. Place babies to sleep on their backs.
  2. Be sure there are no crevices between the mattress and guardrail or headboard that allows baby’s head to sink into.
  3. Do not allow anyone but mother to sleep next to the baby, since only mothers have that protective awareness of baby.
  4. Place baby between mother and a guardrail, not between mother and father. Father should sleep on the other side of mother.
  5. Don’t fall asleep with baby on a cushy surface, such as a beanbag, couch, or wavy waterbed.
  6. Don’t bed-share if you smoke or are under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medications that affect your sleep.
  7. When baby becomes mobile, place mattress on the ground to ensure complete safety.
    (Bed-sharing is safest to do with babies who are breastfed and with babies whose mothers did not smoke during pregnancy.)

References:
– http://cosleeping.nd.edu/
http://neuroanthropology.net/2008/12/21/cosleeping-and-biological-imperatives-why-human-babies-do-not-and-should-not-sleep-alone/

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