Co Sleeping VS. Independent Sleeping
There are different sleeping techniques or styles parents use. Some of these include: bed sharing, room sharing, and independent sleeping.
Bed sharing refers to the infant sleeping in your bed with you. This can be done by having the infant sleeping in his own "basket" on the bed or right next to you on the bed. Room sharing refers to the infant sleeping in the same room as you. This could be a bassinet next to the bed or a crib in the room with you. Independent sleeping refers to the baby sleeping in their own room and in their own crib.
Honestly, when I started my research on this topic I expected to find a lot of negative information on co sleeping. (Co sleeping for the purpose of this post refers to room sharing and bed sharing.) Unexpectedly, I found that all the scientific research shows that co sleeping is way more beneficial for a baby that independent sleep. The only negative things I could find were things people told me themselves. "Your child will never be independent if they sleep in your room for a long time." "It's better to do it earlier so they don't get used to sleeping with you." Then I starting thinking....why is it so negative to have our children sleep with us? As parents we should be their place of comfort. When you sleep that's what you need most, comfort.
Benefits Of Co Sleeping:
There are many benefits to co sleeping, so I picked the top 5/10 that I liked the best to talk about here:
1. Convenience for Breastfeeding Mothers
When breastfeeding mothers co sleep with their baby, they don't have to get up and walk to their child's room and feed them. All mom has to do is reposition herself to feed her child and she doesn't even have to wake up completely. She doesn't have to move.
2. Regulates Night Time Breathing
Research has shown that a mother's breathing may help regulate the infants breathing. Infants have irregular breathing patterns and may stop breathing while sleeping. The mother's close breathing and exhaling of CO2 may be what helps the infant breath regularly. This helps lower the risk of SIDS.
3. Baby Sleeps Better
Babies sleep better in their mothers arms. Its natural to them. Biologically mothers and babies are meant to sleep together. When an infant sleeps next to their mother they feel more secure and are able to fall into a deeper sleep. When the baby wakes up she doesn't have to cry or be awake long, because her food is right there. Because of this, the baby will also fall back asleep faster.
4. Mommy Sleeps Better
Mom doesn't have to get out of bed to go comfort or feed her baby. She may have to get up more frequently to feed, but she doesn't have to wake up completely. Because of not having to get out of bed, mom tends to get more sleep.
Scientific research shows that when an infant has her basic needs met and gets plenty of attention, the infant develops better self esteem and confidence. This confidence and self esteem is what helps the infant develop independence on her own.
6. Deeper Emotional Bond
Co sleeping especially strengthens the bond between mom and baby. If mom is at work during the day she can get that bonding time at night when she cuddles with her infant. If she doesn't work during the day, she gets a little extra bonding time.
7. Lowers Risk of Abuse
Because of all the extra bonding time and better sleep, parents are less likely to abuse their child out of anger. When the parents get better sleep they are more capable of taking care of a needy infant. A parent who has a more emotional bond to their child is less likely to abuse that child.
8. Lowers Risk of Accidental Death
When baby sleeps in the same bed as mom, she is able to hear when baby is in distress. A lot of SIDS accidents happen at night when baby is sleeping. The parents may not be able to hear the infant in distress when she is in her own room. Night fires kill infants every year, and it has been speculated that if the infant was in the same room as the parents it may have saved the infant.
9. Health Benefits for the Baby
Cortisol is a hormone that is released when someone is stressed. Prolonged cortisol exposure correlates to many health issues. It causes early aging, decreased immune response, digestion problems, sleep problems, weight gain, and many other illnesses. Babies who cry more release more cortisol and it can release it in the parents as well. Babies who co sleep cry a lot less during the night, which means they release less of this hormone.
10. Happier Baby and Family
It's easy to see that when baby and the family sleep better they are happier! All the bonding, sleeping, and better health leads to a happier family overall.
Benefits Of Independent Sleeping:
When you first start to have your child sleep in their own room it is tough! If you can bare through all the struggles of having your newborn sleep alone then these are the benefits: (I searched all over for health and scientific benefits of independent sleeping and couldn't find a single source. All I could come up with are convenience benefits. If you found any journals on benefits of Independent Sleeping please share in the comment section!!)
1. You Have Your Own Space
The first obvious benefit of having your child sleep in their own room is the fact that you get your privacy back. You don't have to worry about making noises and tip toeing around your own bedroom so you don't wake up the baby.
2. Better Sleep for Mom
If the baby is sleeping in her own room then mom isn't constantly hearing every noise the baby makes which will allow her to sleep better. Also if the baby isn't in the bed with her she doesn't have to constantly wake up every time the baby moves. (I co sleep with my daughter right now and I actually wake up more when she sleeps in her own room because I'm worried I won't hear her when she is in distress. However, when she is in her own room I'm not waking up every time she moves to make sure she's in a safe sleeping position.)
3. You won't have to make the transition from your room to theirs
I'm am in a mommy group online and the one and only negative thing I have heard about co sleeping is the fact that moving the child from the parent's room to their own room is a struggle. If you start your child off in their own room then you won't have to go through that difficult struggle.
In the beginning I vowed to never co sleep because of the talk of how dangerous it can be. Well, my baby girl was colicky and needed a little extra attention than the average baby. My intentions were to put her in her own room by three months. This did not happen. I tried just last night to put her in her own room and she woke up EVERY TWO HOURS!! When she sleeps in her pack and play in my room she wakes up every three or four hours. When she's in the bed with me she barely wakes up at all. She nudges me when its feeding time and then we fall right back to sleep together.
The American Academy of Pediatrics have actually stated that room sharing for the first 6 months of your infants life is the safest sleeping arrangement. I will co sleep until 6 months and then gradually put her in her own room. If you plan on transitioning your child into their room be sure to do it when they are not in the middle of a growth milestone or other life event such as preschool or potty training.
I have decided that after doing my own research that I will continue to have my 5 month old sleep in my room, and sometimes in my bed with me. I will slowly transition her to her own room around 6 months. I believe that a good mother knows what is best for her child and her family. Whether that means the baby sleeping in bed with you or the baby sleeping in her own room, that is your prerogative. This post is not to belittle anyone or to demean one's means of parenting. I am a firm believer in doing what you think is best for your particular situation. Not every method works the same for every parent. Some find success with room sharing, some don't. I believe it is important to do your own research and try different methods until you find one that works best for you. Mothers need to come together and support each other's differences and experiences instead of belittling each other. Motherhood is a tough journey! Please share your thoughts and opinions on the matter in the comment section and remember to be respectful!!
**I also want to point out that there are SAFE ways to co sleep and UNSAFE ways to co sleep. If you are going to co sleep you need to be sure you are doing it safely. My significant other is a deep sleeper so I always position myself between him and the baby just as an extra precaution. Drinking and taking drugs, whether it be prescription, OTC, or illegal can make it extremely dangerous due to being drowsy. Also, it is not recommended for obese parents to co sleep because the risk of suffocation is greater.
Baby Sleep Site- Sleep Training Cultural Differences
Baby Sleep Site-Sleep Training
Kids Health- Co Sleeping
Ask Dr Sears-Co Sleeping
Ask Dr Sears-Scientific Benefits
Ask Dr Sears- Benefits of Sleeping Close
Ask Dr Sears- Ways to Get Your Baby to Sleep
Pediatrics- Co Sleeping
Natural Child- Co Sleeping
Baby Centre- Pros and Cons
Holistic Squid- Co Sleeping VS. Sleep Training
Independent- Don't Pressure Parents on Co Sleeping
The Other Baby Book-Co Sleeping Myths
The Bump- Sleep Problems
Pinky McKay- Co Sleeping Myths
Family Education- Co Sleeping
Live Strong- Long Term Effects of Co Sleeping