6 Benefits of Co‐sleeping with your kids

“Co‐sleeping” simply refers to sleeping with your babies. The term is used interchangeably to mean, sleeping in the same bed as your infant or sleeping in the same room, but with a separate bed for the infant.  In western countries like the USA, it is common for new parents to decorate a separate room for the infant (nursery) and have a crib, changing station etc. installed in it. The babies are expected to be in their rooms after birth. In India, this is relatively a new phenomenon. However, before affluent urban parents rush to embrace this new concept, along with the excitement of decorating a separate room with all the frills for the baby, the benefits of our age old tradition of the mom sleeping with the child have to be recounted.

  1. Makes nursing easier: I co‐slept with both my kids. Initially I had borrowed my nephew’s crib. In less than 48 hours after we brought our daughter home, I realised that in my post‐partem exhaustion of caring for a new‐born, getting up from my bed to go to a separate room and feeding the child is crazy. So step 1 was to move the crib back into our own bedroom. In another 48 hours I also realised that it is even more stupid to get up from the warm bed, just to go and get your baby, when you can put the baby on your boob when you hear the first whimper and drift right back to sleep – all in under 20 seconds. Baby is happy, momma barely woke up. Research also shows that co‐sleeping makes breastfeeding relationships last much longer.
  2. Babies sleep better: Research has shown that babies that sleep in closer proximity to the mother sleep better with lesser startle reflexes. Startling releases adrenaline into the body which leads to fitful sleep and new‐borns are prone to it. Co‐sleeping babies also have steadier heart rhythms and breathing patterns. Research has shown that patients in coma have shown better heart rhythms and lower blood pressure patterns when human beings are present in the room. You can imagine the healthful benefits of you being next to your baby!babysleeping1
  1. Lesser probability of SIDS: Sudden Infant death syndrome(SIDS) or crib death is the infant (less than 1 year of age) dying in sleep for no diagnosable reason. Research has shown that in cultures like ours, where co‐sleeping of infant with the mother is pretty much the norm, the occurrence of SIDS is practically non‐existent.
  2. Restful: It can be overwhelming for a new parent to get up every two hours to feed the baby. Co‐sleeping gives a mom much needed rest. Studies have shown that moms get in synch with their kids waking cycles pretty quickly and also drift back to sleep faster making it the best practice for new moms to get rest.
  3. Emotional security: Co‐sleeping babies have been shown to sleep almost 100% of the times facing the mother. Contrary to some beliefs that children become dependent on you too much when they co‐sleep, it has been shown that co‐sleeping promotes emotional security that leads to children becoming independent and self-reliant later in life.babysleeping2
  1. Bonding: Babies bond with the parent that sleeps near them. This can especially be of great value if you have a working mom who is gone for most of the day. Co‐sleeping is a great way to make some tactile connections with your child during the night. Some parents are worried that they may roll over the baby or squish the baby. From experience I can tell you that a new mother is at such a heightened sense of awareness of her baby that unless she is under the influence of alcohol, this is impossible. For me personally, since I was breastfeeding, drinking was not a consideration. Also, since the father’s awareness is not as good, the new‐born never slept between me and my husband. I ensured that both my kids always slept near me and the wall or a protective barrier at the side of the bed. Also, I never co‐slept on the sofa which can be risky. Follow common sense norms like not covering the face of your child when you cover yourself or use extra heavy blankets that can smother your child. If you think that it may impact your sex life, get innovative – India is at a population of 1 billion despite co‐sleeping being the norm ☺

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