Call it whatever you may, co-sleeping, sleep-sharing or sharing the family bed is a growing trend and parents are actually willing to share their bed with their babies. In the West, most parents do not anticipate the idea of a family bed and consider co-sleeping only when they feel the need to monitor the baby or to keep the baby close. Here are the pointers to help you decide whether bed-sharing is right for your family or not:
Pros and Cons of Family Bed
Bonding with your newborn:
Sleeping together with family members can be the best way to connect after a long day apart. It can improve the connection between a mother and her newborn, as also between the father and the baby as they do not otherwise get much time for physical affection.
Feeding the newborn during the night:
It is easier for a mother to breast-feed or bottle-feed her newborn baby when he is next to her. Sharing a bed with your baby proves to be beneficial since you can nurse him without having to get up each time for feeding in case you put the little one to sleep in his own room.
Compromising on Privacy:
Sharing a bed with your newborn has its disadvantages as well. You and your partner may not have enough alone time to reconnect after the day’s work. Letting the baby sleep between the mother and father can affect the bond between the parents.
Deciding how to make your newborn share your bed
- Before you start sharing the family bed with your baby, make sure you consult your partner. Since it has to be a family decision, make sure that your partner is comfortable with this arrangement.
- Weigh down the pros and cons of sleep sharing openly and talk about it with your partner.
- Discuss with your partner about ways of taking private time out for the two of you. Try to put the baby to sleep in a crib with guard rails if the baby gets fussy or restless during the night.
Results of co-sleeping with your newborn
- There are some parents who believe that sleeping close to your baby from the time the baby is home can help in strengthening the relationship between the mother and baby.
- On the other hand, some parents believe that sleep-sharing results in an over dependent baby who grows up to feel insecure.
- Letting your newborn sleep alone in his crib develops a sense of individuality in him, and he might grow up to be more fearless and bold in nature.
- Babies who co-sleep might not be happy to move to their own bed when they are old enough to sleep by themselves.
Make your choice as per your convenience, but keep in mind your and your partner’s comfort as the outcome you may long for needs to work in a positive way for you, your partner and your baby.
Safety precautions for your baby while co-sleeping
- Make sure you put your newborn baby to sleep on his back. This position reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Create a safe sleeping environment around your newborn. Avoid smoking around your infant, irrespective of whether you are co-sleeping or not. This can pose risk to your newborn’s health.
- Avoid wearing clothes with long strings or ribbons while sleeping with your baby as they might tangle with your baby’s body.
- Make sure you make your newborn sleep on a smooth and flat mattress, instead of on an egg-crate mattress or a couch. These firm surfaces can interfere with your baby's breathing.
- Do not leave your baby sleeping in the adult size bed alone, unattended.
Making family sleeping arrangements is individual to parents and there can be no fixed rules around it. There are parents who like to sleep with their little ones and others who are not comfortable with the idea of co-sleeping or sharing the family bed. You will also discover that some babies (could be yours) prefer to have a good sleep during the night while they long for companionship during the day. Try both the methods once you discuss with your partner and you will figure out what works best for the baby, yourself and your partner.