What is a good time to start and stop co sleeping?
When your baby wants to co sleep, you might wonder when it’s time to begin and end this practice. Everyone’s situations are different and your needs (and your child’s needs) will not be the same as your best friend’s and her child’s. However, here are few guidelines you can keep in mind.
- You can begin co sleeping with your newborn as soon as you bring him or her home if you like. However, you must take extra care to be sure the baby is very safe and secure during this time. Co sleeping with a newborn is best done with a sidecar setup until the baby is a little bit bigger and older.
- You can also transition to co sleeping at any point if you’ve tried crib sleeping and found that it isn’t working for your situation. However, once you start, be prepared to keep it up for a long time if necessary.
- You’ll probably know when it’s time to move your child into his or her own room. This is best done when the child is still young enough to make the change with relative ease and hasn’t gotten too used to it. Many people transition to separate sleeping by the age of two.
- However, some children continue co sleeping until they are five or older. This may cause problems as your bed becomes too crowded for a bigger child, and he or she might start to feel embarrassed about this during sleepovers or similar situations. If you feel like it’s time to transition, then it’s time.
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 Mum 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.
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. [Editor’s note: According to a document released by Sarah Ockwell Smith and Gentle Parenting UK, you should only co-sleep in the same bed if you are breastfeeding, not if you are formula-feeding. Formula-fed babies should sleep on a separate surface. Read more about safe co-sleeping here – Safe Sleeping With Your Baby.]
- Babies are able to get more 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 sleep of everyone involved.
- 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 you co sleep with your baby, 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.)