What is co-sleeping?


Co-sleeping is many things to many people. For a comparatively handful of people it’s a dangerous practice that jeopardizes the health, even the life, of a baby. Co-sleeping is linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in some studies. In others it is responsible for poor socialization and possibly pervasive developmental disorders.

For other parents it’s a joy and a support for breastfeeding and getting more rest. For some parents it is an acquired skills. But the world over, co-sleeping is popular and a generations long tradition.

There are concerns. “One thing people are always afraid of is overlaying (squishing the baby),” said Meredith Small, professor of anthropology at Cornell University, author of Our Babies, Ourselves, “Which is funny because worldwide, babies sleep with an adult. If this was a problem, all those babies would be dead, and they’re not.” For those rare, overlaying deaths that do occur while co-sleeping, drugs and alcohol and obesity are almost always present.

Some couples may feel their sex life is threatened, but in actuality, just having the baby, no matter where the baby sleeps, has put a damper on sex drive and availability. For the first several months, parents are going to be tired. The mom may physically not be ready. And when she is, who says sex is limited to the family bed? Motivated parents will get creative.

Another hindrance to successful, joyful co-sleeping is the squirmy baby. A bigger bed might be desired. Sometimes an obstacle can be safely arranged. The concave foam core from a diaper changing matt can be used in the bed to hold a baby in place. Sometimes, you just have to develop tolerance for the baby’s movement or gently discipline through the night until it goes away. Heels in your lower back? Push the feet down and away. The baby will figure out that’s where she belongs.

There are lots of ways to enjoy co-sleeping if you choose to. It’s important to avoid lots of covers and pillows, too many bodies, alcohol and drugs, and sleeping on the sofa where a baby can fall into the soft gap between the back and seat. A few simple precautions makes all the difference.

Source: Dr. Jay Gordon, Mothering


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