Monday, August 1, 2011

Co-Sleeping - Is it Wrong to Sleep with Your Mother and Father

Co-sleeping, bed-sharing and sleep-sharing are all terms associated with parents sleeping with their babies. Co-sleeping, is it wrong to sleep with your mother and father? According to many parents believe that a baby shares more than bed space, they share an interaction that is both safe and healthy. Your child trusts you to be with him during the night as you are during the day and accepting your baby’s needs can help you realize you are not spoiling but nurturing when you welcome them into your bed. Studies have found that co-sleeping brings about synchronous arousals between the child and the parents. When the parent stirs, the baby also changes position without waking. When the parent breathes deeply in sound sleep, the baby also breathes deeply. They also shared the same stages of sleep; fell asleep easy and slept longer between feedings. If they are breast fed, they could breastfeed more often, but fall back to sleep easily because they felt safe and secure. Many mothers (myself included) did not report awakening more frequently.

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There is no right or wrong place for your baby to sleep. Over half of the population sleeps with their baby and more parents in the U.S. co-sleep because they sleep better. As a baby transitions from deep sleep to light sleep they often wake up and it is sometime difficult for them to fall back to sleep. They become attached to the parent that puts them to sleep by touch, smell and the sound of their voice as this assures them that they can go back to sleep. When that parent is out of sight most babies that are less than one year old do not have the ability to know their mommy or daddy are somewhere else. They become frightened and often are unable to fall back to sleep. This is also known a parental separation anxiety. Mothers also sleep better with baby as they get their sleep cycles in sync. If separated the mother wakes to a frightened child to comfort them back to sleep. When the child does fall to sleep the mother is now wide awake. However, if the child is sleeping next to their mother they have their sleep cycles in sync and most can quickly resettle without both fully awakening.

Co-sleeping is more prevalent today because of our busy lifestyles. More mothers are separated from their infants during the day and sleeping with them allows that bond to be rekindled. Mothers are able to relax, wind down easier from the tensions of their busy work schedules. Babies also thrive from their extra touch that stimulates development, not only physically but emotionally and intellectually too.

Co-sleeping infants spend more time on their backs which lower the risk for SIDS. If there are fewer cribs, could there be fewer crib deaths? New research shows that parents who sleep with their child are less likely to succumb to SIDS. Dr. Sears believes that most cases of SIDS is a sleep disorder, primarily a disorder of arousal and breathing during sleep. Co-sleeping can benefit the child through breathing control and increased mutual awareness between the parent and infant so their arousability is increased and the risk of SIDS is decreased. This research suggests that an infant at is a risk for SIDS has a diminished arousal response during sleep, so it is logical to think that increasing the infant’s arousability due to the mother’s awareness of her infant may decrease this risk. Remember, SIDS is relatively an uncommon occurrence and co-sleeping does not imply that a mother should keep watch every sleeping hour, it is not a nightly threat to your baby. From one to six months is the primary time for concern about SIDS. As they get older the percentage of active sleep decreases and deep sleep increases. The concern is when the baby starts to sleep through the night, they sleep deeper, and therefore, it is harder for them to be aroused when they have trouble breathing. After six months of age their cardiopulmonary regulating system has matured enough that the area of the brain that controls breathing is better able to restart breathing, even in deep sleep.

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Co-sleeping doesn’t work for everyone because some find it hard to get a good night’s sleep, especially if they have a full vs queen size bed and they worry about the safety of the child. An alternative is to place a crib, a Nest Bassinet or a Arm's Reach Mini Convertible Co-Sleeper Bassinet besides your bed. Also it is sometimes very difficult to wean an infant from your bed as this may last up to two years of age. Mothers with hectic schedules feel the need to take an herbal supplement like melatonin to help them sleep. A baby who is trying to develop a regular sleep schedule could have their efforts disrupted by melatonin. Melatonin might also decrease your milk supply. According to, ingestion of melatonin by breastfeeding women improves the sleeping habits of their infants, according to a study published in a 2011 issue of "International Journal of Pediatrics." The study analyzed the effects of melatonin on sleep disorders in infants and the safety and efficacy of melatonin supplements. The authors reviewed the results of several clinical studies and found that the sedative effects of melatonin in breast milk are beneficial in treating sleep disorders in infants. Additionally, the authors found no evidence of harmful side-effects in either the mothers or their babies. It is very important to discuss with your pediatrician about taking any supplements while breastfeeding.

The content provided in Co-Sleeping – Is it Wrong to Sleep with your Mother and Father is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.

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