Cosleeping is one of those subjects that tends to get parents very riled up. It can result in arguments, straining friendships as differing opinions clash head-on with seemingly no hope for resolution.
Or… it baffles people. Cosleeping might be well known in some circles, but in others, it’s an enigma. So first and foremost, let’s classify what cosleeping is.
Cosleeping is the practice of either:
Sharing a bed with your child. In this version, the child sleeps next to you (or your partner) from a young age. This is also called bedsharing.
Cosleeping is also used to refer to sleeping in the same bedroom as your child, though not in the same bed.
Why Do People Cosleep?
Nurseries are generally accepted to be the norm. In fact, it has almost become a rite of passage during pregnancy to take a weekend to decorate the nursery – so why are people eschewing this practice?
There are multiple reasons why cosleeping is becoming more normalized. Studies have identified a variety of benefits, including but not limited to –
Why Is There Some Debate Around Cosleeping?
The majority of the controversy around cosleeping comes from a misunderstanding of the term. Above, there’s detail on the two different ways the term is used. Both are accurate, but the debate comes with the first – bedsharing.
Parents and their children sharing the same bed is a debate point as some consider it to be unsafe. It should be mentioned that there is no clear, scientific consensus for this. While some advise against it, others – such as the WHO and Unicef – say there is no harm, if proper precautions are taken.
It should go without saying that if either parent is under the influence of alcohol or medication, then they should not bedshare.
The choice is largely down to what you feel is right as a parent. The main thrust should be that there are many benefits to cosleeping when contrasted to your child sleeping in a different room to you; that’s the take-home point. How you choose to practice cosleeping (or bedsharing) is your decision.
Practicalities of Cosleeping
Cosleeping does not need to be a huge change in your routine. If your child is already sleeping in another room, then moving their crib into your bedroom may take a little reorganization but little else.
If you decide to bed-share for the first time, then it’s important to update your bedding. Anything that is too loose might risk suffocation. Switch to fitted king size sheets rather than those that require folding under the mattress, for added security.
Furthermore, try to maintain a temperature in the room that means you can manage without a cover, be it with thicker pajamas for all or just raising the thermostat. A single pillow per person should suffice, and it’s preferable that it’s thin. For baby, use the same setup you would in a crib.
Does It Work For Everyone?
Probably not – but the same is true of almost anything!
Cosleeping can take a lot of adjustment. For some parents, it won’t be practical or will cause other issues that reduce the myriad of benefits. It’s preferable, but it’s not essential – plenty of children go on to lead long, happy lives without cosleeping.
The best idea is to see if it works for you and your family. Provided you have the proper precautions in place, it’s worth giving it a try.