Co-sleeping is often thought to be synonymous with bed sharing – also known as letting baby sleep in the same bed with you. But co-sleeping can also mean putting baby to sleep in the same room as you but in a separate bed. If your baby is six months or younger, experts recommend that healthy infants be placed on their backs for sleep, as this is the safest position for an infant to sleep. Putting your baby to sleep on his back decreases his chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This applies to daytime naps as well as during the night. Huggies® expert and midwife, Lynne Bluff, sheds some light on some of the benefits of co-sleeping with a newborn baby.
Remember for the first three to four months of life it is recommended to have skin to skin between baby and mom and dad, as much as possible. Skin to skin is when baby only has a Huggies® Gold new baby nappy on and no clothes. Baby is then placed against mom’s bare chest (skin to skin) and baby is wrapped with a shirt or blanket against mom’s or dad’s chest. Many parents choose to co-sleep with baby because it allows for more skin to skin contact.
There are many benefits to co-sleeping! Here are some benefits of keeping baby close:
Babies naturally fall into a daytime and night time pattern: it isn’t uncommon for new-borns to mix up their days and nights. Many babies sleep extra soundly throughout the day but can be restless or wakeful much of the night. Keeping baby close during the day with lights and noise around can eventually help baby stay a bit more alert in the daytime. Keeping baby close at night, meeting their needs with a quiet and dim environment, can help them learn to rest more at night. Babies also rest more soundly when they feel secure.
Co-sleeping helps babies practice rousing themselves: while having your new-born falling into and staying in a deep sleep might sound appealing, it isn’t the type of sleep they were designed to have. Co-sleeping babies are frequently aroused when close with their moms. This practice rousing can help babies learn to use their self-preservation instinct to rouse when there’s any danger such as being overheated, being too cold or something blocking their airway. Being able to easily rouse may reduce the risk of SIDS.
Meet baby’s needs without getting up: Most babies need to be fed, soothed and changed at night. If baby is close by, mom can do all of these things while in bed and remaining in a restful state. Getting out of bed, walking down the hall, changing nappies on the changing pad, feeding in a glider and soothing baby back to sleep requires being fully awake and alert.
Experience less night time crying: babies sleep well when they feel secure. Knowing mom is close will likely help baby sleep better and fuss less. Moms that co sleep are able to notice earlier signs of hunger and needing to be changed. Often mom can wake during these early signs and meet baby’s needs before they begin to cry. When you co sleep there is less trying to get baby to settle down to sleep before laying them down. This often means less crying. You aren’t likely to have an overtired baby fussing and protesting being laid down in their cot to sleep.
Co-sleeping helps with bonding and secure attachment: a secure attachment between baby and caregiver is an emotional bond that leaves baby feeling secure and cared for. This secure attachment, fostered infancy, translates to a child feeling secure and knowing their caregiver will always return to meet their needs. Children with a secure attachment often respond appropriately to situations, show minimal distress when their mother leaves, and are happy when their mother returns.
Co-sleeping helps with maintaining an adequate milk supply: feeding on demand helps moms maintain an adequate milk supply. Breast milk production is a supply and demand process. Babies are designed to eat frequently at night and co sleeping helps to make it easier for mom and baby to meet this need.
Co-sleeping can mean better rest for mom: moms, not just babies, are wired for closeness. Studies show that new moms do not experience a better quality of sleep if their babies go to the nursery at night. Co-sleeping may not guarantee more sound sleep for every mom, but many report sleeping better knowing baby is safe and close by. Moms also release oxytocin when close to their babies. Oxytocin improves sleep quality and it’s also great for breastfeeding.
As your baby grows, he may not want to sleep all night, every night, with you. With a bit of trial and error, you’ll eventually find a method that works for you, your partner, and your baby.