Co-sleeping has been around for centuries, yet has proven to be a bit of a controversial topic!
Why, you may ask? Simply put, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) still speaks out against co-sleeping/bed sharing. Some pediatricians are opting to shift the paradigm a bit to focus on safely co-sleeping with your baby.
Here are a few safety tips to follow when co-sleeping:
- Never swaddle your infant when bed sharing
- Never co-sleep if you or your partner smokes cigarettes
- Never co-sleep if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohols
- Be sure to keep blankets and pillows away from your infants face
- Always lay your infant flat on their back
- Be sure that your mattress is firm
- Be sure to use tight fitting sheets
Infants cannot regulate their temperature the way that we can. Therefore, it is important to be sure that they are not over heating at any point in time. You also want to be sure that your baby cannot fall of the bed at any point in time or become wedged between a headboard.
There is a misconception that babies/toddlers who co-sleep will be conditioned to becoming co-dependent and generally more fearful. This is not the case. Studies have shown that toddlers who have co-slept are more actually more independent and innovative (McKenna, 2006).
Studies done on long term psychological effects on children who have co-slept with their mother are promising. There is no empirically based evidence that cites adverse affects or psychological harm to children who have co-slept.
Studies actually show the opposite! Co-sleeping actually showed positive consequences! The children grew up to be more comfortable in their own skin and more well-adjusted.
Co-sleeping has also proven to show that children are growing up being more comfortable with physical affection, as well as sexual identity.
Co-sleeping also has positive psychological effects on the mother as well! Especially those who practice attachment parenting styles. Many breastfeeding mothers find that they are getting more rest by having their little one at arm’s reach.
It is important to always pay attention to your own mental health and not just that of your precious little one! Alone time is important and needed! Many mothers find it harder to co-sleep once their little one becomes mobile. As time goes on your little one may become quite the wiggle worms resulting in restless sleep for the mother. Once you notice that a co-sleeping arrangement is no longer working for you, or is no longer safe, it is likely time to transition your little one to their own sleeping space.
You may find it difficult to transition your baby to their own sleeping space in the beginning. However, your little one will adjust! It is perfectly normal to experience some anxiety the first few nights of sleeping alone. Any time that you begin to experience feelings of guilt, remind yourself that your little one knows that they are loved and safe!
Written by Deema Soufan
About this author:
Deema is a psychology professor and psychotherapist specializing in maternal mental health. She has a toddler who keeps her on her toes! She loves all things French and exploring the world.