When my husband mentioned that we were co-sleeping with baby to his colleagues, they seemed to have negative perceptions about it. It seemed to be a new concept, something so alien they couldn’t fathom. He was even asked whose fault it was. To which he said, it was both of us since we both loved sleeping with our baby.
There are parents who are used to co-sleeping like it was the most ordinary thing in the world, and obviously, there are those who do not believe in it. However, I am realising that more and more parents give in to co-sleeping although they don’t seem to talk about it as openly.
Since it seems to be common, this will probably still remain to be a hot topic among parenting circles.
I remember my sister encouraging me to breastfeed in bed when my baby was still a newborn. She said it will help me a lot. But I was way too scared… I thought room-sharing was the way to go. I didn’t mind waking up ever so often to breastfeed and put my baby to sleep – even if I was so exhausted. I read so much information about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS that it made me so afraid. I didn’t want to hurt my baby in any way especially when she was asleep.
I trained her to sleep in her bassinet and I was successful. However, when we travelled out of the country, there were times when I couldn’t make her sleep in a cot since there was none available. So, that’s when we started co-sleeping even if I didn’t want to. It felt so awkward at the start. On her 5th month, she just wouldn’t sleep in her cot anymore! We kept trying to put her there, but she just cried her lungs out! She was so happy with co-sleeping and I suppose there’s no more turning back for her.
Even if I wanted to put her in her own bed, I have to admit that I had mixed feelings about it. My husband and I wanted to sleep beside each other, but we both enjoyed sleeping with our baby between us. That meant less bed space and having more awareness and sensitivity at all times, but we were happy about it.
Night Time Feedings Are More Convenient
Before we practiced co-sleeping with baby, I would wake up every 2-3 hours and pick up my baby from her bassinet, feed her for 30 minutes to 1 hour, burp her, and put her to bed. I literally felt like a zombie at the beginning. There were even times that I hardly had no sleep during her growth spurts or leaps. Those were times that my nursing chair and pillow became my best friends. I missed my bed…
With co-sleeping, I don’t need to drag my feet out of bed and stay on my nursing chair while I feed and rock my baby to sleep. All I needed to do was to lie down beside her, put out my breast and feed her. And I can easily switch to the other side after even if my eyes were closed. Simple and easy.
Maintains Milk Supply
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months from the time the baby is born because it provides nutrition and protects them from illness. It even helps lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, ear infections, childhood obesity, diarrhea and vomiting, and even SIDS!
A new study published in Acta Paediatrica found that mothers who sleep next to their newborns are more likely to continue breastfeeding for a longer period of time than mothers who do not bed-share. It also indicates that pregnant women who expressed a strong desire to breastfeed were more likely to share the bed with their babies.
The researchers at Durham University, had a sample of 678 women at mid-pregnancy who participated in a random breastfeeding trial. They were questioned whether the fear of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS may hinder them from sharing a bed, which in turn, may prevent them from breastfeeding as long as they wanted.
The women sent weekly reports of their breastfeeding and bed sharing movements for 26 weeks following the birth of their baby.
Reports showed that 299 women (44%) either “rarely” or “never” shared their bed, 192 women (28%) did so “intermittently”, and 187 (28%) did so “often”. Bed-sharing was defined as at least one hour of bed-sharing per week.
The study significantly showed that those women who were breastfeeding frequently were still breastfeeding over 6 months, as compared to those who rarely or never breastfed.
According to Professor Helen Ball, lead author of the study, “We previously found that mothers who bed-share were twice as likely to breastfeed their baby for at least 6 months than mothers who began breastfeeding but didn’t bed-share. In this paper we show that mothers with the strongest intent to breastfeed are the ones who sleep with their babies the most.”
“These mothers therefore need information on how to make bed sharing while breastfeeding as safe as possible.”
“Women with strong motivation to breastfeed frequently bed-share. Given the complex relationship between bed-sharing and SIDS appropriate guidance, balancing risk minimisation with support for breastfeeding mothers is crucial.”
Longer Sleeping Time
Co-sleeping really saved my sanity! It allowed me to have more sleep. It became normal to fall asleep with exposed breasts. Except when my baby was teething, she would easily fall asleep.
If she could probably speak, I’m pretty sure that she would say how much she looks forward to sleeping time with mom and dad.
We just make sure that she is sleeping on her back, her face is uncovered, and we don’t swaddle her so she can move.
While I was so afraid of squishing her before, I noticed that you will eventually lie on your side in a position where you can be in direct contact with you baby. Her head is usually at the same level as my breasts.
You will also be more conscious and aware that your baby is there and that position also allows you to observe them well.
Better Connection with Baby
At 3-4 months, my baby used to cry and cry when I let her dad take care of her. I suppose she felt some sense of separation anxiety whenever she can’t see me. Our bond was so strong that I also wanted her to be close to her dad. And I have to say that co-sleeping helped a lot! Their emotional connection has become so strong! In fact, after she breast feeds, she tends to go nearer her dad to sleep.
Her dad has suddenly become her comfort blanket. I just love watching both of them sleep. There’s a certain level of contentment and happiness.
Sleeping beside our baby has also helped us stop her from scratching herself, check if she is overheating, or if she has fever.
Here are some tips to remember should you consider co-sleeping with baby:
- Put your baby on their back to sleep, never on their front or side.
- Make sure your baby cannot fall out of bed or get stuck between the mattress and a wall or furniture.
- Ensure that the blanket or pillows do not cover your baby’s face.
- Don’t overdress your baby or cover their head.
- Don’t make your baby wear a sleeping bag, or be under the covers.
- Don’t swaddle your baby.
If you would like to know more about Safe Infant Sleeping, you can read more about it here. While the safest place for your baby to sleep is in their own cot by the side of your bed, it is helpful to weigh the benefits and risks of co-sleeping with baby.
I would love to hear your thoughts and experience on co-sleeping and breastfeeding. Share your comment below.
First of all, a big thumbs up for carrying on with direct breast feeding. It builds a great bond between moms and babies. That’s what I fully believe in. Apart from breastfeeding, I’m also all for co-sleeping with our baby. It makes me feel more secure by letting them sleep by my side. It’s just important that we take care of proper safety measures towards co-sleeping. Such a great read, looking forward to reading more.
Great to hear this, Chris! You have lovely kids! I think co-sleeping, when done right, does help you get more sleep, breastfeeding especially at night is not such a concern, and it does give you that sense of security since your baby is near you. All the best!
This is one of the big cultural differences I noticed between the US and my country, Japan. I was so surprised that many parents in the US leave their babies in their own room alone while they are still babies! I thought it was the same all over the globe that mother sleeps right next to the baby at least during the first year of their life. This is a very important period for the baby as they are absorbing all the signals from their surroundings, establishing the solid sense of security, and building a strong bond with the mother.
I understand it is also important to teach the child a sense of independence, but I feel that can wait until a little later?
Thanks for sharing this, Yuko. I think there are indeed differences in parenting styles, and it really depends on what works for each one. We need to understand that we were all raised differently, and beliefs also vary. Each one’s sleeping style for instance, will have its own pros and cons, and its up to you to decide which one works better for you. In our case, we favour co-sleeping because it works for us and we are reaping the benefits. While I would like my daughter to develop that sense of independence earlier, I am willing to give it some more time until we are both ready.
This is really an interesting topic! I can definitely see the pros and cons, and I agree with a lot of what you said. I can see it making you closer to your baby and it would truly give you more sleep.
My only concern is that it may be difficult to get your baby to sleep on their own. Is this a concern for you?
Thanks Dylan. Glad you brought it up. While it is encouraged not to breastfeed your baby to sleep, you’re spot on. I still breastfeed my child to sleep. It works for me because it really is something I like to do and there’s no one else that I leave her with anyway (except her dad). I noticed that when we are out in public, when she is in a stroller or pram, or in the car seat, she has no problems sleeping (I don’t need to help her sleep by breastfeeding). I’m sure that at a certain point, we will both get tired of it, and she will end up sleeping on her own.
I loved co-sleeping! Having my baby by my side was a big priority for my family. I never had a nursery for my kids, they were always in my room, at least for the first year.
Smelling my baby and hearing him/her breath was soothing to me. I never worried about squishing them, though I did remove extra pillows and used lighter blankets when they were newborns.
Babies want to be near their mothers! It is natural.
Thanks Andrea! Oh for sure, they do want to be near their mothers as much as possible. I think they are less fussy this way. Co-sleeping is really one of those things you will be so thankful for. Its just so nice to look at your baby up close, smell that sweet baby scent, and even kiss them.
So glad I found this article of yours! I’ve always wondered why people leave their babies alone in an unattended room like in those scary movies.
It’s much better to sleep with the baby rather than leaving him or her alone in a room unattended just so that you can have your privacy and check on the room every hour or so. Or maybe that’s just me.
Hi Riaz! I think it really boils down to preference, and you have to weigh which works best for you. There are parents who prefer to have their babies in another room, while there are those who prefer to have them in the same room. If they will be in another room, it is best to have a baby monitor with an audio and video function for your peace of mind. Our baby monitor also allows us to speak so your baby can hear your voice. Personally, I do prefer room sharing because it gives me more security and comfort.