I am a full believer in co-sleeping. I do not care the age, sex or origin (by that I mean step kid or not). When I was growing up, if I wanted to climb in bed with my parents, they gladly opened their covers. Human touch and contact are so crucial to the survival of our species, studies have proven this. So where does that leave me with my own children? Every single child of mine whether biological or not, have climbed into bed with me at some point. I will always try my best to keep my arms open for my kids, a safe place to tuck themselves into. I would like to discuss my own personal pros and cons of co-sleeping from my own experiences.
1. The child gets rest.
It is proven that the children fall asleep quicker when they are sleeping with their parents. This means that bedtime becomes less stressful for them. Not only do they fall asleep quicker, but should they wake up in the middle of the night, it is easier to calm them down before they have a chance to work themselves up. For me, when I breastfed, it was way easier to co-sleep because they could get the nutrition they needed, while I could get the rest I needed. Waking up every 3 hours to breastfeed for an hour puts unnecessary stress and strain on your health, both physical and mental. I remember crying because I wanted sleep so bad, at one point I enlisted the help of my partner to get the child to and from its own bed. Do you have a kid that wakes up at 6am every day even on the weekends? When children sleep with their parents, they tend to sleep in a little more, giving both of you some much needed rest.
2. It reduces the risk of SIDS.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is heartbreaking and no parent should have to deal with losing a child they just gained, but it happens. I had such a fear of this happening to my kids that I often times would get up every hour just to check on them to see if they were still breathing. I couldn’t bare the thought that something might happen on my watch, when my children depended on me most to keep them safe from harm. Having my child sleep with me allowed me to keep a better eye on them and check them more often without the physical and emotional strain of getting up to go to their room. This way, we both slept better because I did not disturb them by a creaking floor or a squeaky door. Research has also shown that an infant that sleeps with the parent is reminded to breathe by mimicking the parents. I do not recommend co-sleeping if you are an alcoholic or smoke, this just gives the child a less-safe environment.
3. The child is physically healthier.
The human body is an amazing thing. Research has proven that children have more regulated temperature and more stable heart rhythms than those that sleep alone. Hospitals now are insisting skin-on-skin contact as soon as a child is born because it has so many benefits for infants. Less stress, stable temperature and heart beat, steady breathing, and less anxiety are among those benefits. Children that co-sleep are also more accepting of affection and tend to have less psychological problems growing up. Hugs are a huge part of my family environment and my children use that symbol to show a wide arrangement of emotions.
1. The child may develop demanding sleep behavior.
In my experience, my kids have gone both ways. Some of my children go to sleep just fine on their own while others want to fall asleep in my arms or in close proximity of me. Some kids also have demanding sleep behavior during the daytime naps as well. I do find that once the child reaches a certain age, the demanding behavior subsides. The only child I struggle with currently is my youngest. He is 2 and wants to fall asleep with one of us, it doesn’t matter where, and he is usually the one that visits us in the middle of the night or close to the alarm going off. Every night he gets a littler better and during the day, he falls asleep just fine on his own.
2. Older children’s restlessness is felt by everyone in the bed.
Once a child reaches a certain age, the movements at night can be daunting for the parents. Whether it is a hand across your face or a foot in the center of your back, parents often suffer. In my opinion, this is the point to work harder at getting that child out of your bed. Most times, children co-sleep until they are 3 or 4, but often times, they stop earlier than that. Once a child reaches around 5 or starting kindergarten or pre-school, they will become more independent at night as well. But until then, the child may get great sleep, but the adults suffer. This, in turn, makes the parents more stressed and less compassionate during the emotional roller coaster of the day. Each child is different and if everyone is getting rest, which is different from sleep, than I say co-sleep as long as you want.
3. Less time for intimacy.
I have found that having a child in the bed puts a huge damper on your intimacy with your partner. Sometimes, you have to really get creative in order to have a little bit of alone time, whether that is sneaking off during nap-time or finding another place in the house for some quality time. I find that less intimacy causes more stress in a relationship and can cause resentment and hostility. One parent may feel guilty for working a full-time job and never getting to spend time with the child, so co-sleeping is their way of making an impact in their child’s life. On the other hand, the parent might feel as though they have been tossed to the curb and are no longer desired or loved. It is important that communication be open between you so that you can make sure that you are not trading out one love for another.
So, there you have it! Pros and Cons in my opinion, not that you asked for it, but everyone has one. In the end, only you know whats best for your child and your family. If you believe one way or the other, do not let someone else persuade you otherwise. My only suggestion is to become informed so that you can better defend your stand, if you feel the need to. Honestly, you don’t owe anyone an excuse that isn’t directly affected by it.
What are your feelings about co-sleeping? Do you agree or disagree with anything on this list? I would love to know in the comments below.