As every mother prepares for their new baby, there are hundreds of decisions to make. Yet, there is always one question that stands out. It’s the question that plagues nearly every new mother: Should we allow our babies to co-sleep with us, or should we follow separate sleeping situations?
The answer is, of course, complicated.
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Co-sleeping is a personal and weighty subject, with conflicting information being presented from the medical world. While there are those who argue against co-sleeping, they cannot downplay the benefits that exist. It’s a stated fact that there are many ways co-sleeping can improve your child’s health. From improved cognitive development to a lowered likelihood of SIDS, babies can benefit from a world in which they share their nights with their parents.
It is not only babies who benefit from co-sleeping. The entire family unit who shares sleeping spaces undergo a formative bonding experience. Here are just some of the ways that co-sleeping acts as crucial bonding experience for parents and children.
Co-Sleeping Is Attachment Parenting
Defined as the action of sleeping close to a child, co-sleeping is an act in which babies sleep in the same room as their parents. This proximity in sleep falls under the philosophy known as attachment parenting.
This is a philosophy where parental contact is given the highest emphasis; thus, babies almost always are in physical contact with their parents. Attachment parenting has been shown to be crucial in development, as well as strengthening the bond between parent and child.
There are three main tenets of attachment parenting: babywearing, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping. Through sleeping in the same room with your baby, you are taking part in a philosophy that enforces nurturing and responsiveness. Thus, co-sleeping creates a stronger parent-child bond in addition to healthier child development.
Co-Sleeping Makes You Aware of Your Baby’s Needs
Through co-sleeping, you are fine-tuning your understanding of your child’s needs. This falls under the umbrella of attachment parenting. If you are keeping yourself in proximity to your baby, then you are bound to gain a better instinctive empathy of their needs.
Now is the time when your baby is growing and establishing their own personhood. They are also learning ways in which to tell you what they need. Through remaining close, you can gauge these needs and the form in which they are communicating them. You can learn the difference between your baby’s ‘hungry’ cry and their ‘cranky’ one.
This is especially helpful if you are co-sleeping. There are bound to be times when your child wakes up in need and tries to tell you that need. Through co-sleeping, you can accurately gauge your child’s need and quickly fulfill them. Thus, you and your baby are given a means of communication that will strengthen your bond and allow it to grow.
Co-Sleeping Allows for Late Night Breastfeeding
The act of co-sleeping allows for easy breastfeeding during the night. Breastfeeding is considered to be the greatest bonding experience between mother and child. Every time a mother breastfeeds, her body undergoes a chemical reaction of love. Her mind unleashes a flood of oxytocin. This chemical, aptly named the “love chemical,” creates a feeling of euphoria. It instills love and care for the person who unleashed the reaction. Through breast feeding, a mother is chemically bonded to her baby.
If your baby is sleeping in another room, breastfeeding can take a little longer. As a mother, you need to hear the baby’s cry on your monitor. You need to wake yourself up, put on your robe, go to the baby’s room, and then breastfeed. While you are doing all these steps, the process of breastfeeding is growing longer, while your baby is growing hungrier. Through co-sleeping, you eliminate time and effort spent exiting your room, and you make it easier to feed and bond with your baby.
As stated earlier, the choice to co-sleep is entirely a personal one. What works for one family, might not be ideal for another. It’s always important to do your research and choose what you believe is best for you and your baby. So, if you believe that co-sleeping is your best course of action, then go for it. You are choosing a path that will solidify the connection between you and your baby and laying the framework for years to come.