I can never participate in a discussion about co-sleeping without parents taking a firm stand on one side or the other. Co-sleeping, the practice of babies sleeping in the same bed with parents clearly remains a controversial topic in our culture. Opponents of co-sleeping, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, believe that co-sleeping is unsafe. The greatest concern is that the adult might inadvertently roll over onto the baby while sleeping and suffocate the child. Babies can also become suffocated in the bedding, or they can become trapped between the mattress and the headboard.
Parents who support co-sleeping articulate the convenience for nursing mothers to have the baby next to them at night. They state that babies fall asleep more easily, get more sleep at night, and Moms get better quality sleep as well. One online article I found, authored by The Natural Child Project, presented a good argument for co-sleeping, reminding us that babies sleeping independently from parents, historically, is a relatively new concept, perhaps no more than two hundred years old. Until the late 1700’s, all societies believed that the best place for babies was next to their parents at night. The article also talks about bonding and its relationship to co-sleeping and offers research showing that children who co-sleep potentially form stronger early attachments with parents.
If you choose to co-sleep with your baby, it is recommended that you:
• do not use pillows on the bed
• always have your baby sleep on her/his back
• make sure there are no openings between the mattress on the head and foot boards where the baby can fall between.
• use a minimal amount of bed covers
• do not sleep next to the baby if you have taken any drugs or alcohol
Katherine Generaux, Community Inclusion Specialist