New Way of Thinking About Co-Sleeping Makes Perfect Sense

Rant 46

co-sleepingI co-sleep with my children. There. I said it. They are just about 4 years old now. We've been co-sleeping since they were infants. I've even purchased a king-size bed so we could co-sleep more comfortably.

Despite what some may say, co-sleeping is not a reckless activity. Co-sleeping is not a bad word. I am not putting my child's life at risk when we co-sleep because just like with anything, there is a right way to do it and a wrong way. And the right way can be lifesaving.

More From Our Partners: 3 Reasons to AVOID Co-Sleeping

Let's compare co-sleeping to driving in a car with your children. A car seat can be properly installed and your child correctly secured into the seat so in the event of an accident, there would be no injury. Your child could also be improperly restrained in a car seat not safely installed, and the result after an accident could be tragic. Right way. Wrong way. Same applies to bed-sharing. We need to stop vilifying all parents who co-sleep because so many of us are doing it, and doing it right.

A recent study titled "Listening to Mothers III" revealed that 41 percent of new moms co-sleep so they are closer to their baby. Back in 2007, a study of Los Angeles parents showed that 70 to 80 percent shared a bed with their child. Seems about right. Lots of families are doing it. And that's because there are so many benefits of co-sleeping. I have co-slept with my children so they are soothed and sleep well. When my kids sleep better, so do I, so does the whole family. Sleep? It's so important. I co-slept because it made breastfeeding at 3 a.m. so much easier and less disruptive. I co-sleep because it creates such a bond and these moments early in their life are fleeting.

Co-sleeping can also protect your baby against SIDS, not cause it. Sleeping close to your baby helps regulate baby's body temperature and breathing -- baby loves to sync that with mom. It also can help mothers breastfeed with greater success, and breastfeeding significantly reduces the risk of SIDS. Of course, I'm talking about the safe way to co-sleep. Which means keeping blankets and pillows away from baby, and being sober and without sleep issues.

Many of the tragic cases involving co-sleeping were due to the fact that the parent was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. THAT is the problem, not the act of co-sleeping. If a person is drunk or on drugs, that person should not be around a baby anyway. When you become a parent, you take on this huge responsibility and that responsibility is keeping your baby safe and alive. There are sacrifices made and even some rules to follow, including not getting wasted in front of your child while you are taking care of her and then putting her in danger by sleeping next to her.

We always have to try to make the safest parenting decisions, and co-sleeping is included in that. It can be safe. Yet the "Safe Sleep" campaign in Milwaukee sure didn't show that, remember? Instead the ads showed an infant sleeping in a bed next to a butcher knife -- making it seem like it's the worst thing a parent can do. Parents shouldn't feel shame for properly co-sleeping. This isn't the right message to send.

I love how writer Sarah Kerrigan put it. Teaching abstinence isn't going to stop kids from having sex -- it's been proven ineffective. So just telling parents not to co-sleep isn't helpful either. We need everyone to get on board with the dialogue of safe co-sleeping -- that's what will educate, perhaps save lives, and have everyone sleeping a whole lot better.

Do you co-sleep? Do you get upset when others make general statements saying how co-sleeping is unsafe?


Image via acmtel/Flickr

baby first year, baby sleep, natural parenting


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Felip... FelipesMom

Thank you!!! 

work4... work4mickey

I tried to not co-sleep with my son. It was impossible. He would cry and cry unless I was holding him. I'd eventually lie down holding him and fall asleep (I'm aware that's not the safe way to co sleep) and fortunately nothing happened. I did not have information on how to do it properly, because most resourcrs are anti co-sleeping, but for my son it was an un avoidable reality.

My daughter on the other hand, slept well on her own. For the first month or so I would sometimes wake up in a panic because I had slept "too long" and she wasn't even crying for her feeding.

Rachel Booker

We co-slept with our son and found it to be a fabulous experience. Our rules: one blanket, kept down around our waists; no blanket for him (blanket sleeprs or bunting for him); no sleep meds or alcohol before bed; one pillow for each of us and no pillow for him. It worked great and we were all much happier for the experience.


aeneva aeneva

EXACTLY!  I had the story titles that say cosleeping killed a baby and then you read the article and the parent was under the influence of something or had blankets or was in a recliner etc.  That is NOT safe cosleeping and cosleeping did NOT kill those children.  Bad parenting decisions did.

nonmember avatar Dave

So misguided and without any research to back your statements. You're lucky that kids were not harmed by ignorance.

nonmember avatar Reven

I have heard so much debate over co-sleeping. It was a bit of an internal debate for myself in the beginning, but it came down to this: Sleeping safely in my bed, my infant daughter slept better, not as much fussing and much easier while breastfeeding. In the crib, there were nights she would just cry and cry and we would both be up all through the night. So my solution? safe co-sleeping and occasionally I will keep trying to set her in the crib for a nap through the day or some nights after she has had a bath. So far sometimes she will sleep for a few hours in the crib, but then not settle until she is back in my bed. This article makes me feel much better about co-sleeping. I wish there was more education and encouragement regarding this topic.

Karen Marie Vela

I co slept with both of my sons and they are fine. being responsible is the way to do it. irrespnsible parents are the problem.

Adrian O'Brien

You know... there are about as many ways to co-sleep as there are ways to 'wear' your baby.  You can have them right up against you... or if you are a heavy sleeper, you can have them 'side car' style where they are still in their own bed, but actually sleeping within inches of you.  (You have to TRY to roll on top of them... especially after the first time you bump your head on the side of the crib)  You can also room-in, there are little co-sleeping basket things that can prevent you from rolling over on them... a lot of options that involve keeping the baby safe, close or at least within ear-shot. 

People who say that co-sleepers are 'misguided and without any research' can kiss my engineering degree.  My kids co-slept, bf-ed and are still alive to talk/babble about it.  Its one thing if co-sleeping isn't your thing.  I respect your decisions; that they are in the best interest of you and yours. Live and let live.  If you result to name calling and slinging your self-righteous mommy poo... Congrats!  You win nothing, really...

antfa... antfarmer101

I didn't/don't cosleep with either of my children, simply because I could not sleep. There were a few times we brought the older one into our bed, and I spent all night awake, trying to make sure she didn't get hurt or anything. It was much easier for me to have mine in a co-sleeper/bassinet drawn up tight against the bed. That way they were actually in their own space, but close enough I could reach over and touch them. But that's my deal. If cosleeping works for someone else, I say go for it. If you can do it responsibly, and it makes you happy, you should. It's nobody else's business

nonmember avatar April Lockhart

I don't agree with the whole abstinence spill. That has nothing to do with co-sleeping whatsoever. I do agree that co-sleeping is best for babies, and people get worried about too many things.

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