Co-Sleeping and The Family Bed – Part Two

(and that little space on the right is where I sleep)
Did you miss Part One of this article? Check it out here: http://lifemoresimply.blogspot.com/2009/05/family-bed-part-one.html

When bed sharing (co-sleeping) with your child, it’s important to use common sense guidelines along with those listed in The Family Bed – Part One. Things like pulling long hair back, not allowing your scent to be hidden by wearing cologne or too much hairspray, and not allowing blankets to cover your child’s head. Contrary to popular belief influenced by the media, statistics and research show that bed sharing is actually the safest option for your child if done correctly.

We find that the benefits of co-sleeping or bed sharing compared to babies who sleep alone include:

· More stable temperatures (Richard, et al., 1996)

· More regular heart rhythms and breathing patterns (Field, 1995).

· Four times less crying during the night and virtually no startling during sleep (Nelson, et al., 2001).

· Four times less likely to die from SIDS (both for bed sharing and infants who sleep next to their parents’ bed) overall (Blair, Fleming, Bensley, et al., 1999). This may be because these infants tend to spend less time sleeping on their bellies (McKenna, et al., 1994), or because the carbon dioxide that the parents exhale stimulates the baby’s breathing (McKenna has published research stating that babies tend to sleep with their faces very close to the mother’s face during sleep).

There are even long term benefits of bed sharing vs. sleeping alone, including:

· Fewer psychiatric problems (Forbes, et al., 1992).

· Reports of higher self-esteem, less anxiety, and earlier independence as well as fewer behavioral problems in school (Heron, 1994).

· More comfortable with affection as adults (Crawford, 1994).

Personally, I find that co-sleeping provides a better sleeping experience for all of us without the anxiety of sleeping alone. I don’t have to wonder if my daughter’s warm, crying, hungry, or breathing. In fact, she will give feeding cues while she’s still sleeping instead of waking up and screaming. It makes for a much more peaceful night to say the least! I save a lot of time and energy by co-sleeping as well, since I don’t have to get out of bed to feed my daughter. I just pull her over to me, feed her, and I either pull her back up to my head when she’s done or we fall asleep just like we are (with no blankets above her armpits, of course)! The only downside I’ve found is that she still wakes up every three hours to eat at the ripe old age of six months. I’ve read that it’s very common for co-sleeping babies to wake up more often during the night and eat more often during the night. This may be attributed to the fact that when sleeping together, people tend to adapt the same sleep cycle habits. On the one hand, the waking up is annoying, but on the other hand, I don’t mind because we still get a better night’s sleep overall and if she’s waking up, I know for sure that she’s still breathing.

A lot of information? Yes. Worth the knowing, though? Without question! Now…what are your thoughts on the matter?

Resources

Blair, P., Fleming, P., Bensley, D., et al. (1999). Where Should Babies Sleep – Along or With Parents? Factors Influencing the Risk Of SIDS in the CESDI Study. British Medical Journal, 319, 1457-1462.

Field, T. (1995). Touch in Early Development. Lawrence Earlbaum and Assoc. Mahway, New Jersey).
Heron, P. (1994). Non-Reactive Cosleeping and Child Behavior: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep All Night, Every Night. (Master’s thesis, Department of Psychology, University of Bristol).

McKenna, J., et al (1994). Experimental studies of infant-parent co-sleeping: Mutual physiological and behavioral influences and their relevance to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Early Human Development, 38, 187-201.

Nelson, E., et al. (2001) International Child Care Practice Study: Infant Sleeping Environment. Early Human Development, 62, 43-55.

Richard, C., et al. (1996). Sleeping Position, Orientation, and Proximity in Bedsharing Infants and Mothers. Sleep, 19, 667-684.



Crawford, M. (1994). Parenting Practices in the Basque Country: Implications of Infant and Childhood Sleeping Location for Personality Development. Ethos, 22(1), 42-82.



Forbes, J., et al. (1992). The Cosleeping Habits of Military Children. Military Medicine, 157, 196-200.

5 thoughts on “Co-Sleeping and The Family Bed – Part Two

  1. I too, am a fan of cosleeping!! i have coslept with each of my last 4 children for about 3 yrs, till the next baby came along, and i’m currently trying to figure out how to cosleep twins, whom i’m expecting this summer.

    One tip- get a bed rail and put the baby on the mom/rail side of the bed! especially if you have a dh that is prone to roll over 🙂 moms just don’t do that!

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  2. WOW you really did your research and you sleep in that little spot not sure how you can do it to tell you the truth!

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  3. We have our 6 week old sleeping in a bassinet on my side of the bed. In the last few weeks, he was having the hardest time sleeping in the morning hours. He was obviously tired, but seemed uncomfortable. We tried everything we could think of. But now, after my early morning feeding, I’ve brought him into bed between me and my DH. He sleeps like a rock now!

    On another note, I remember a conversation I had a few years ago with a woman who works with children with dissasociative disorders (essentially children without consciences). She said that these disorders can develop when babies don’t sleep with their parents. Not a scientific observation, but one from someone “in the trenches.”

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  4. Our DD seemed to be really insecure when we first came home…could never be put down, hyper-vigilant, VERY easily startled… We don’t bed share as often now (we do child-led bed sharing, based on when she wakes up), but I believe that it was bed sharing that has increased her security and allowed her to become somewhat more ‘independent’ at the ripe age of 10 weeks!

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  5. I've taken some time to read through different articles on your site before responding. I hope you will take this as lovingly as it is meant. What is keeping you at work and not at home with your baby? Your heart is so obviously there, you are incredibly in touch with your instincts and calling to be there and to your daughter's need for you. I have probably missed where you told why you are working, but I believe your lives would be so much happier if you could be at home. Is there ANY way you could make this happen?
    Your little girl's time will go so very fast, my heart just aches for you. I have been at home with my children for 24 years and with two gone from home, I KNOW how very fast the time goes. You sound so very busy with so many things, but with everything set aside for this time in your life, you will be rewarded with more time for your family and your guilt, heartache, and anxiety will be greatly relieved. God bless you. I hope you find a way to live the life you are imagining and hoping for.

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