There has been plenty debate about co-sleeping with baby. Does it hurt children and make them less independent? Or does it give a child the security of mom or dad being by their side?Will little Susie have issues adjusting on her own and, how will she handle being in that big bed all alone one day?
I too asked myself these questions as I raised my babies. I knew and long researched co-sleeping when my children were infants. I did not opt for co-sleeping when they were babies for the fear of everything we already know ‘can’ happen:
- Accidental suffocation from baby becoming stuck under pillows or blankets
- The baby rolls out of bed and is injured
- The baby becomes wedged between the bed and wall
But, what about when your baby becomes a toddler, preschooler or elementary age child? We went through years of co-sleeping at our house during this age. As I reinforced my decision for co-sleeping night after night, I recalled a few things I learned from Dr. Sears, a leader in child matters, about the benefits of co-sleeping with baby:
- Sleep more peacefully
Research shows a benefit of co-sleeping is infants virtually never startle during sleep and rarely cry during the night, compared to solo sleepers who startle repeatedly throughout the night and spend four times the number of minutes crying. Startling and crying releases adrenaline, which increases heart rate and blood pressure, interferes with restful sleep and leads to long term sleep anxiety.
- Stable physiology
Studies show that infants who sleep near to parents have more stable temperatures, regular heart rhythms, and fewer long pauses in breathing compared to babies who sleep alone. This means babies sleeps physiologically safer.
- Decreases risk of sudden infant death syndrome
Worldwide research shows that the SIDS rate is lowest (and even unheard of) in countries where co-sleeping is the norm, rather than the exception. (See SIDS: The Latest Research on How Sleeping With Your Baby is Safe). Babies who sleep either in or next to their parents’ bed have a fourfold decrease in the chance of SIDS. Co-sleeping babies actually spend more time sleeping on their back or side, which decreases the risk of SIDS. Further research shows that the carbon dioxide exhaled by a parent actually works to stimulate baby’s breathing.
- Long term emotional health
Co-sleeping babies grow up with a higher self-esteem, less anxiety, become independent sooner, are better behaved in school, and are more comfortable with affection. They also have less psychiatric problems.
- Safer than crib sleeping
The Consumer Product Safety Commission published data that described infant fatalities in adult beds. These same data, however, showed more than three times as many crib related infant fatalities compared to adult bed accidents. Another recent large study concluded that bed sharing did NOT increase the risk of SIDS, unless the mom was a smoker or abused alcohol.
Now 22, my oldest co-slept with me until she was about 11. Growing up, she did not exhibit any adjustment (or maladjustment) issues and was very confident and outgoing with her school, community and interests. She went on to love her teen bedroom, her Hannah Montana bed, her little sanctuary of adolescent pondering and then, dorm life and now, as an apartment dweller. She is confident, independent and most of all, secure. I’d like to think that part of that was the emotional stability she in part gained by having mom there when she needed her.
My youngest, almost 12, co-sleeps on occasion. She transitioned into a toddler bed from the crib, worked her way into her own twin bed and for about a year when she was 7, would come into my room in the middle of the night. Life’s tough when you can’t decide between the glue, glue stick and rubber cement. But, she had the assurance no matter which worries she had during the school day, even if it was glue choices, her mom would be by her side when she needed her.
As a parent, it is your decision to assess what works for you, your child and their ability to adjust. Co-sleeping is an option that can greatly help your child’s growth and development. In the back of my head, I knew it wouldn’t be forever, but a short time in the continuum of life that I would have the greatest influence to guide them before all the influences of the world affect their outlook.
Daphne is a guest writer for Randesign. If you’d like to email her or submit an article yourself for us to share, please contact us.
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