I’m going to admit it. I sleep share with my son. Since he was about a month old. At first he slept in his bassinet, I did not sleep very much due to me not only breast feeding but I was constantly up and down checking on him. He was up every hour or so wanting to eat also. I was so exhausted one night that I brought him in bed with me and lied down with him beside me while I breast fed. Just like the hospital showed me before I took him home for the very first time.
Its all history from there. We have not only slept better since that night but I wasn’t exhausted any more. To be completely honest I have never slept better in my life! There is just some feeling that I get that relaxes me so much knowing he is right there next to me.
I know about what everyone says about it. “Oh your going to roll over on your baby. Your baby can suffocate. Blah Blah Blah. I don’t believe it, I never have and I never will. Never one time was I not aware that my little precious baby was next to me. There is nothing like the connection between mommy (and/or daddy) and baby.
I have been wanting to write a price on this for a while now but I wanted to do my research first. So here it is, I hope you enjoy sleeping with your child as much as I do.
7 BENEFITS OF CO-SLEEPING: MEDICAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL
There is no right or wrong place for baby to sleep. Wherever all family members sleep the best is the right arrangement for you. Remember, over half the world’s population sleeps with their baby, and more and more parents in the U.S. are sharing sleep with their little one. Here’s why:
1. Babies sleep better
Sleepsharing babies usually go to sleep and stay asleep better. Being parented to sleep at the breast of mother or in the arms of father creates a healthy go-to-sleep attitude. Baby learns that going to sleep is a pleasant state to enter (one of our goals of nighttime parenting).
Babies stay asleep better. Put yourself in the sleep pattern of baby. As baby passes from deep sleep into light sleep, he enters a vulnerable period for nightwaking, a transition state that may occur as often as every hour and from which it is difficult for baby to resettle on his own into a deep sleep. You are a familiar attachment person whom baby can touch, smell, and hear. Your presence conveys an “It’s OK to go back to sleep” message. Feeling no worry, baby peacefully drifts through this vulnerable period of nightwaking and reenters deep sleep. If baby does awaken, she is sometimes able to resettle herself because you are right there. A familiar touch, perhaps a few minutes’ feed, and you comfort baby back into deep sleep without either member of the sleep-sharing pair fully awakening.
Many babies need help going back to sleep because of a developmental quirk called object or person permanence. When something or someone is out of sight, it is out of mind. Most babies less than a year old do not have the ability to think of mother as existing somewhere else. When babies awaken alone in a crib, they become frightened and often unable to resettle back into deep sleep. Because of this separation anxiety, they learn that sleep is a fearful state to remain in (not one of our goals of nighttime parenting).
2. Mothers sleep better
Many mothers and infants are able to achieve nighttime harmony: babies and mothers get their sleep cycles in sync with one another.
“I would automatically awaken seconds before my baby would. When the baby started to squirm, I would lay on a comforting hand and she would drift back to sleep. Sometimes I did this automatically and I didn’t even wake up.
Contrast sleepsharing with the crib and nursery scene. The separate sleeper awakens – alone and behind bars. He is out of touch. He first squirms and whimpers. Still out of touch. Separation anxiety sets in, baby becomes scared, and the cry escalates into an all-out wail or plea for help. This piercing cry awakens even the most long distance mother, who jumps up (sometimes out of the state of deep sleep, which is what leads to most nighttime exhaustion), and staggers reluctantly down the hall. By the time mother reaches the baby, baby is wide awake and upset, mother is wide awake and upset, and the comforting that follows becomes a reluctant duty rather than an automatic nurturant response. It takes longer to resettle an upset solo sleeper than it does a half-asleep baby who is sleeping within arm’s reach of mother. Once baby does fall asleep, mother is still wide-awake and too upset to resettle easily. If, however, the baby is sleeping next to mother and they have their sleep cycles in sync, most mothers and babies can quickly resettle without either member of the sleepsharing pair fully awakening. Being awakened suddenly and completely from a state of deep sleep to attend to a hungry or frightened baby is what leads to sleep-deprived parents and fearful babies.
3. Breastfeeding is easier
Most veteran breastfeeding mothers have, for survival, learned that sharing sleep makes breastfeeding easier. Breastfeeding mothers find it easier than bottlefeeding mothers to get their sleep cycles in sync with their babies. They often wake up just before the babies awaken for a feeding. By being there and anticipating the feeding, mother can breastfeed baby back to a deep sleep before baby (and often mother) fully awakens.
“About thirty seconds before my baby wakes up for a feeding, my sleep seems to lighten and I almost wake up. By being able to anticipate his feeding, I usually can start breastfeeding him just as he begins to squirm and reach for the nipple. Getting him to suck immediately keeps him from fully waking up, and then we both drift back into a deep sleep right after feeding.”
Mothers who experience daytime breastfeeding difficulties report that breastfeeding becomes easier when they sleep next to their babies at night and lie down with baby and nap nurse during the day. We believe baby senses that mother is more relaxed, and her milk-producing hormones work better when she is relaxed or sleeping.
4. Its contemporary parenting
Sleepsharing is even more relevant in today’s busy lifestyles. As more and more mothers, out of necessity, are separated from their baby during the day, sleeping with their baby at night allows them to reconnect and make up for missed touch time during the day. As a nighttime perk, the relaxing hormones that are produced in response to baby nursing relax a mother and help her wind down from the tension of a busy day’s work. (See
5. Babies thrive better
My research that I have done shows that babies the sleep share thrive more than babies that sleep alone.
“Thriving” means not only getting bigger, but also growing to your full potential, emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Perhaps it’s the extra touch that stimulates development, or perhaps the extra feedings (yes, sleepsharing infants breastfeed more often than solo sleepers).
6. Parents and infants become more connected
Remember that becoming connected is the basis of parenting, and one of your early goals of parenting. In our office, we keep a file entitled “Kids Who Turned Out Well, What Their Parents Did.” We have noticed that infants who sleep with their parents (some or all of the time during those early formative years) not only thrive better, but infants and parents are more connected.
7. Reduces the risk of SIDS
New research is showing what parents over the world have long suspected: infants who sleep safely nestled next to parents are less likely to succumb to the tragedy of SIDS. Yet, because SIDS is so rare (.5 to 1 case per 1,000 infants), this worry should not be a reason to sleep with your baby. (SeeSIDS)
Co-sleeping does not always work and some parents simply do not want to sleep with their baby. Sleepsharing is an optional attachment tool. You are not bad parents if you don’t sleep with your baby. Try it. If it’s working and you enjoy it, continue. If not, try other sleeping arrangements (an alternative is the sidecar arrangement: place a crib or co-sleeper adjacent to your bed).
New parents often worry that their child will get so used to sleeping with them that he may never want to leave their bed. Yes, if you’re used to sleeping first-class, you are reluctant to be downgraded. Like weaning from the breast, infants do wean from your bed (usually sometime around two years of age). Keep in mind that sleepsharing may be the arrangement that is designed for the safety and security of babies. The time in your arms, at your breast, and in your bed is a very short time in the total life of your child, yet the memories of love and availability last a lifetime.
Mother acts as pacemaker. A major part of my sleep-sharing hypothesis is that mother can act as a breathing pacemaker for her baby. Picture what happens when mother and baby sleep side by side. Mother acts like a breathing pacemaker for her baby during sleep. Together they develop what we call “sleep harmony.” Both members of the sleeping pair have simultaneous sleep stages, perhaps not perfectly attuned and not all night long, but close enough that they are mutually aware of each other’s presence without disturbing each other’s sleep. Because of this mutual sensitivity, as baby normally cycles from deep sleep into light sleep, the presence of the mother raises baby’s arousability and awareness. As previously discussed the lack of arousability or ascending out of deep sleep may characterize infants at risk for SIDS. Countless times a mother has said to me, “I automatically awaken just before my baby starts to stir and I nurse her back to sleep. Usually neither of us fully awakens, and we both quickly drift back to sleep.”
While watching Martha sleep next to our babies, I noticed how frequently she would attend to our infant’s nighttime needs, often without even waking up. Several times throughout the night she would adjust baby’s covers, nurse, or do whatever seemed right for baby’s well-being.
This sleeping arrangement does not imply that a mother should think of herself as a lifeguard, keeping watch every sleeping hour, day and night, for six months or feel that she is an inadequate parent if she chooses not to do so. This attitude puts fear into and takes the joy out of nighttime parenting. I’m simply talking about forgetting cultural norms and doing what comes naturally. Don’t feel that you must never let your baby sleep alone or that you must go to bed early with baby every night. Remember that SIDS is a relatively uncommon occurrence, not a nightly threat to your baby’s life.
Mother fills in a missing ingredient. In the early months, much of a baby’s night is spent in active sleep—the state in which babies are most easily aroused. As we discussed previously, this state may “protect” the infant against stop-breathing episodes. From one to six months, the time of primary concern about SIDS, the percentage of active sleep decreases, and quiet, or deeper, sleep increases. More deep sleep means that babies start to sleep through the night. That’s the good news. The concern, however, is that as baby learns to sleep deeper, it is more difficult for him to arouse when there is an apnea episode, and the risk of SIDS increases. By six months, the baby’s cardiopulmonary regulating system has matured enough that the breathing centers in the brain are better able to restart breathing, even in deep sleep. But there is a vulnerable period between one and six months when the sleep is deepening, yet the compensatory mechanisms are not yet mature. During the time baby is at risk, mother fills in. In fact, mother sleeps like a baby until the baby is mature enough to sleep like an adult. That warm body next to baby acts as a breathing pacemaker, sort of reminding baby to breathe, until the baby’s self-start mechanisms can handle the job on their own.
So now that you have read this, what do you think? I did research on this for almost 7 months. I hope it was informative and helpful. If you have any questions for me please ask! Thanks for reading!