Many parents struggle with the issue of allowing their infant to sleep in their bed with them. Proponents of “co-sleeping” argue that the dangers of an infant sleeping in an adult bed are exaggerated, and that many cultures around the world have engaged in this practice for centuries. Opponents argue that there are dangers inherent in co-sleeping that cannot be ignored.
Some of the objections to co-sleeping include:
– Fear of rolling over the top of the baby and smothering or otherwise injuring the baby
– Fear that the baby will roll off the bed
– Concern about the child not wanting to give up sleeping in the parents’ bed
– A loss of intimacy and sexual problems between mom and dad
– A concern for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
To be sure, some research does support these objections. The concern for SIDS, in particular, seems to be a significant one, as much SIDS research suggests that co-sleeping is a definite risk factor.
Proponents of co-sleeping suggest some specific benefits, however. Among these are:
– Co-sleeping can build a stronger bond or attachment between the baby and her parents
– Co-sleeping can allow a parent quicker access to the baby in the event of an emergency, such as stopped breathing
– Breastfeeding during the night can be less disruptive for both mom and baby when they are in the same bed
– The close and warm contact can help the baby fall asleep quicker and sleep more soundly.
Proponents of co-sleeping argue that co-sleeping actually can reduce the risk of SIDS, because parents are more likely to awaken if the baby experiences a loss of breath.
Ultimately, the decision about whether or not to let your baby sleep in your bed is your decision. If you do choose to allow your baby to sleep in your bed, you should follow some basic safety guidelines. These can include:
– making sure that there is no space between the bed and the wall or headboard in which the baby can be trapped
– using only fitted sheets that are fastened securely to the bed
– Consider using guard rails to keep baby from rolling off the bed
– Do not leave your baby alone in an adult bed.