Do You Co-sleep with Your Baby?

Mother And Baby SleepingCo-sleeping is the practice of putting your baby to sleep in the same bed as the parents. Sometimes it will be the maid, or domestic foreign worker, or a nanny who does the co-sleeping. Some people recommend the practise, and others advise against it. What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that both parents and babies get more sleep, and sleep of a better quality, when they practise co-sleeping. It is a lot easier for a parent to “half-wake” and comfort their baby, than to get out of bed and walk over to the baby cot, or to the nursery room. The other parent in the bed, the one who is not responsible for responding to the crying baby (that’d be the snoring father), also gets better sleep because the baby’s cries are responded to quickly and the baby gets back to sleep in less time.

Co-sleeping allows mothers to synchronise their sleep cycles with their baby to some extent, and it is much easier for nursing mothers to breast feed with minimum disruption. Breast feeding re-enforces the mother-baby bond, strengthens the immune system, and provides better nutrition than formula milk.

Psychiatrists claim that “there may be a physical basis linking stressed-out babies to personality disorders in adulthood”, and a certain way to stress out a baby is to not to respond to her cries, or to make her sleep alone in another room.

A Wikipedia article on co-sleeping states:

Co-sleeping may promote long-term emotional health. In long-term follow-up studies of infants who slept with their parents and those who slept alone, the children who co-slept were happier, less anxious, had higher self-esteem, were less likely to be afraid of sleep, had fewer behavioral problems, tended to be more comfortable with intimacy, and were generally more independent as adults”.

For me, the strongest reason to to sleep with my child is because I love her (of course), I don’t want to be separated from her, and just the slightest cry or moan needs to be investigated immediately.

The reasons against co-sleeping are: Babies may become dependant on their parents being in the same bed before they are able to fall asleep. There is an increased risk of harming the baby by rolling onto her, or by blocking an airway inadvertently. Babies have indeed died after accidental suffocation, either by a parent, or in some cases a sibling who was sharing the same bed.

I know that in some families, the maid co-sleeps with the baby. I suppose it depends how comfortable you are with the maid’s attitude and abilities. Certainly, many maids form strong bonds with their charges and are as protective of them as their real mothers would be, but I personally would find it a hard thing to do.

Whatever arrangement you decide will work best in your family, do be aware of the potential harm you can do, as well as the potential benefits, many of which will be for the long-term.

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