What is co-sleeping?
Co-sleeping means sleeping in close proximity to your child so that each, the adult caregiver, usually the mother and infant, can respond to each other’s sensory signals and cues. It may be sleeping with your baby together in the same bed or sharing the same bedroom with your baby but sleep in separate bed.
Why is it important to keep you baby close to you?
Recommendations from American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) call for infants to share their parents' bedroom for at least the first six months and, optimally, for the first year of life, based on the latest evidence. Following birth, babies and caregivers remain physiologically connected to each other in complex ways, and when this bond is supported, babies do better.
"Room sharing is always considered safe and always considered protective. But it is not the room itself that it is protective. It is what goes on between the mother (or father) and the infant that is." says James McKenna, director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame. McKenna has studied infant-parent cosleeping for most of his career.
Though it is tempting to hug your baby in your arms and fall asleep in the same bed, especially during the nights when you are constantly up for night feeding, changing diapers and non stop crying, it is important for you and your precious little one to sleep in separate bed. A study has found that 69 percent of babies were bed sharing at the time of their death.
AAP recommendations on creating a safe co-sleeping environment include:
Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
Avoid baby's exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.
Moreover, to be designated “safe,” the physical and social cosleeping environment must involve a willing and active caregiver who chooses to cosleep specifically to nurture, feed, or be close to the infant in order to monitor or protect him or her.