The Controversy of Infant Co-Sleeping - SmartMom

The Controversy of Infant Co-sleeping

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In recent news, infant co-sleeping has become as controversial a topic as vaccinating your kids.

The ideal situation would be having a baby that never cries who sleeps like a little angel no matter where you place her. But, that’s not reality. Reality is, you are up every hour and so deliriously tired that you’re not sure whether or not you are hovering above ground. When it’s 2 a.m., you want to nurse in your bed, while unconscious and asleep, snuggling your newborn, because that’s the only way she won’t cry, doggonit!

The issue people have with co-sleeping is safety. Newborns are so small and helpless; they can’t even move a blanket off their nose if it’s obstructing their breathing. Also, you are huge in comparison, so if you’re unconscious, what is keeping you from rolling on top of your newborn?

There are two very different schools of thought when it comes to infant co-sleeping. Let’s take a look at both sides of the argument, so you can decide where you stand.

From Those Against Infant Co-Sleeping

According to the AAP, the American Academy of Pediatrics (those people your books and pediatrician are quoting all the time), the safest place for your infant to sleep is in the room with you, but not in your bed.

It is recommended that your baby sleeps in a bassinet or crib within arm’s reach of you, so you can still bond with your baby. The AAP suggests that you don’t put any blankets, soft bedding, or pillows in the crib or bassinet with your baby, so they won’t suffocate.

The big thing that the experts want to drive home is that SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the leading cause of death for infants between 1 month and 1 year of age. No one really knows what causes SIDS, but it’s the reason that every few years there are new guidelines (bumper pads, no bumper pads, put babies on their back to sleep, put babies on their tummy, etc.) These aren’t just random guidelines that random people come up with. There are constant studies being done on SIDS and, thankfully, new findings that help us understand what might be best for our little ones.

Many people make their parenting decisions based on what the AAP recommends, which is a wise and understandable choice.

From Those For Infant Co-Sleeping

There is a whole other group, the attachment parenting folks, who place a very high value on family bonding. Dr. Sears is one very well known doctor who has done extensive research on co-sleeping. He and many others share the opinion that co-sleeping actually prevents SIDS. He brings up the fact that infant co-sleeping is the norm in many countries around the world. Only in American culture is it frowned upon. You can read up on his findings on his website, but here are a few of the reasons he says you should “share sleep” with your baby:

“1. Sleep-sharing pairs showed more synchronous arousals than when sleeping separately. When one member of the pair stirred, coughed, or changed sleeping stages, the other member also changed, often without awakening.

  1. Each member of the pair tended to often, but not always, be in the same stage of sleep for longer periods if they slept together.
  2. Sleep-sharing babies spent less time in each cycle of deep sleep. Lest mothers worry they will get less deep sleep; preliminary studies showed that sleep-sharing mothers didn’t get less total deep sleep.
  3. Sleep-sharing infants aroused more often and spent more time breastfeeding than solitary sleepers, yet the sleep-sharing mothers did not report awakening more frequently.
  4. Sleep-sharing infants tended to sleep more often on their backs or sides and less often on their tummies, a factor that could itself lower the SIDS risk.
  5. A lot of mutual touch and interaction occurs between the sleep-sharers. What one does affects the nighttime behavior of the other.”

Dr. Sears admits that with his first three children, he never would have dreamed of sharing a bed, but that after observing his wife and their fourth child, he changed his tune.

Whether a mother is pro or anti infant co-sleeping, she has her baby’s best interest at heart. “Mother’s intuition” is a real thing and, in a case like this, I’d encourage you to trust yours. Do what you believe is best and safest for your baby and avoid judging other parents with opposing viewpoints.

Does your baby sleep beside you in a bassinet or in bed with you?  What led to your decision of co-sleeping or not co-sleeping? Log into the SmartMom app to share your story in a judgement-free zone.

RELATED QUESTIONS

Co-sleeping is very common all over the world, except in the USA. It’s not encouraged here because of a handful of cases of SIDS. I absolutely love sleeping with my son. Anyone else here co-sleeps?

I see a lot of mamas who “co sleep” with LO. I have always heard or been told to never sleep with my LO due to increase in SIDS, suffocation, bad habit, etc. (I am not judging anyone who does) but aren’t parents who co sleep worried about this?

I need opinions. Is it better to co sleep or have my baby sleep in her crib? I’m very confused.

Just put my 4months old son to sleep in his crib through the night for the first time. I’m so not used to and worry a bit. We used to co-sleep up until today. Please don’t judge me, I love to co-sleep with my baby and I already miss him. Who else is/was co-sleeping with their babies and until what age?

How many of you co-sleep with your baby?

My son was doing fine sleeping in his crib and my wife says since she’s been out of town and he’s been sleeping with her she likes it and wants to do it at home. She is adamant she wants to co sleep when she returns home but I have to work and need sleep. How do I discourage this?

Everyone makes me feel bad about co sleeping with my baby. She’s 9 months old. I’m tired of everyone telling me I shouldn’t let her and I should be making her sleep in her crib. Anyone else have this problem?

Let me hear from all the co sleeping mommies. What age did you start co sleeping? How old is your lo now? Do you still co sleep? What age do you plan to transition them to their own bed?

Do we have any cosleepers? I’m one!

Is co sleeping really that bad? My four week old will not sleep a lone in his bassinet at all.

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About Scarlet Hiltibidal

Scarlet has written for and managed various publications - her articles reaching over 38 million readers. She has a degree in counseling and worked as a 4th grade teacher before entering the media realm. Currently, she writes for Smart Mom and is also writing children's curriculum for a church in Miami. Her favorite things to do are tell her husband every thought that crosses her mind, play with her two little girls, and connect with other moms on the SmartMom app! Visit her blog at scarlethiltibidal.com and follow her on Twitter @ScarletEH.