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Co-sleeping is when babies or young kids sleep close to their parents instead of sleeping in another room. Co-sleepers sense each other's presence and proximity even when at sleep, that is why you may feel extra cautious while your baby may feel more secure sensing that you are beside her. Experts and parents have different views on co-sleeping. While parents love the idea of sleeping beside their child, experts do not agree and recommend a separate cot or bed for your little one. But does co-sleeping make your child clingy or dependent? Let's find out!
As a new mom, you may feel that you want to be with your baby all the time and co-sleeping with them may seem wonderful. Although, this is still a common practice worldwide, there are a few things you need to know before you practice co-sleeping. First, it is not recommended by professionals due to safety reasons, and second, you may want to get some sleep in your most relaxed position without worrying about your little one sleeping beside you. There are several other factors why parents co-sleep with their babies. It can be convenient for breastfeeding moms, as they can feed their baby while lying on the bed. It can be they want to build a strong bond with their little one, or it can be because of cultural practices, or living situations, (small room, cannot add a cot or crib, or no nursery space).
Co-sleeping or bed-sharing is not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for babies within infancy. It is mainly because of your little one's safety. AAP encourages room-sharing for babies, it is much safer for them to sleep in a bed sleeper, cot, or crib. This is the ideal setup as it is easier for moms to feed, comfort, soothe their little ones right away when needed. Room-sharing also decreases the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in babies by 50%. For your baby's safety, know more about safe sleep practices.
In Japan's culture, where co-sleeping is common and part of their norm, they have the lowest SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) cases in the world. According to research, when done safely, it is said that a mom sleeping next to her baby is biologically suitable especially if she is breastfeeding. It helps double the feeding session and will allow both mother and child to have more sleep. Increased breastfeeding sessions will make the baby more healthy, will gain more antibodies making them more protected from illnesses. This setup will also encourage the mom to breastfeed more for longer months. Co-sleeping is said to also promote a healthy relationship between the mom and the child.
Based on another research by anthropologist, James J. McKenna, when the mom and the baby co-sleep, their brain waves, heart and sleep states, temperature, oxygen levels, and breathing have a good effect on one another. This effect suggests that the child's development is intended to grow safely the natural way, near an adult's body. The first few months of a baby's life are the most immature and being near their parent makes them feel warm and secure. A study in 2012 wherein 4 to 6-month babies participated and separated from their moms every night showed that babies' cortisol levels (stress hormone) remained high even on the third day of sleeping in a separate room.
For parents who co-sleep and are concerned about their child being clingy or dependent, worry not! In a study in 2011 done in a University in New York, researchers had found that there were no behavioral and cognitive differences in children who sleep independently at an early age and those who co-sleep with their parents.
Whether you co-sleep or not, you as parents will decide what works best for your family. Co-sleeping may be convenient and may work for you, as long as it is in accordance with safe sleep practices. The most important thing is to focus on building quality relationships with your child and your family as a whole, as it has a big impact on your child's development and well-being.