Ten little fingers, ten little toes, lots of cuddles and many less woes!
The myths about snuggling your baby to sleep – busted! New research suggests that co-sleeping can be more beneficial than harmful. Here are some ways co-sleeping benefits for babies:
#1 They Sleep Better
Your baby feels more secure with you by their side, and this is how nature intended it to be. If they wake up, they are comforted by your touch and your scent, and they may not need to fully wake or cry before settling back to sleep by themselves. By watching your sleep cycle, babies also naturally fall into an appropriate daytime and nighttime pattern faster.
#2 They Feed Better
The closer you sleep to your baby, the easier it is to breastfeed frequently, without needing to get up every couple of hours. Nursing often helps babies learn to latch better, making them confident feeders. It also helps maintain a healthy milk supply for moms, especially if they are working and are away for significant amounts of time every day. The more babies breastfeed, the more likely they are to reap the benefits of breastmilk in their first years of life.
#3 They Feel Closer to You
Co-sleeping promotes a close bond between parent and baby, and helps release the love hormone oxytocin, which plays a vital role in bonding and attachment. As you spend the night within sensory range of each other, you can quickly respond to your baby, helping them to learn that you will always meet their needs. Babies that know this, show minimal distress when a parent leaves and are always happy to see their mom or dad return.
#4 They Rouse Easily
When babies sleep closer to their parents they are in lighter sleep cycles, which helps them to rouse easily should something be amiss. Their self-preservation instinct kicks in when there’s any danger such as being overheated, being too cold or something blocking their airway – decreasing the risk of SIDS.
#5 Their Immunity is Boosted
Having a parent nearby reduces the amount of stress a baby feels. Less stress means lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone), which in turn means a healthier baby. Co-sleeping also stabilises an infant's body temperature and raises their oxygen levels by way of loving parental touch and gestures that naturally occur during sleep.
#6 It Helps their Development and Growth
Babies get better sleep when they sleep with their parents, which is good for their development. They breathe more regularly, use energy more efficiently and grow faster. Co-sleeping is also a way parents can promote their child's emotional growth and raise a well-rounded kid.
#7 They Become more Independent
Sleeping together promotes 'secure attachment,' whereby children who become distressed are able to compose themselves knowing that they can rely on their caregiver. Independence arises naturally out of a secure relationship that builds up after many episodes of a baby having his or her needs adequately met.
#8 They have Happier Parents
With less night-time crying, more accessible breastfeeding and more sleep, you are bound to be a happier parent. And oh did we mention nighttime cuddles? – it’s the best part of a parent-baby relationship.
A few things to remember while co-sleeping:
- Use a firm mattress and light blanketing to reduce the risk of SIDS and overheating.
- Co-sleeping is sleeping within sensory range of your child so can respond to their needs better, it does not always imply bed-sharing.
- Although most new parents have full awareness of their child co-sleeping with them, if you are concerned about rolling onto a child, then use a Nestilo or a bassinet.
- Parents under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any medications that can have a sedative effect should not co-sleep with their babies.
- If you are a smoker, ensure your baby has a separate sleep surface.
- Children, toddlers and babies under one year should not share a sleep space.
There are a growing number of parents who are more comfortable c o-sleeping with their babies, rather than training them to sleep independently in a separate room from an early age.
We'd love to hear about your co-sleeping experiences, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.