Co-sleeping Personal Posts

Co-Sleeping: Facts & Expert Opinions

#Cosleeping Facts & expert opinions via @chgdiapers - Co Sleeping

Co-Sleeping: Facts & Expert Opinions

This is part 2 of a 4-5 (?) part post series on Co-Sleeping. If you missed the first, please check out Co-Sleeping: My Story.

By now you know I’m a tired, tired hypocrite, who is advocating for co-sleeping, but has not actually co-slept. Other than my own personal opinions & feelings, there is a ton of science supporting co-sleeping. So much so that The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now encourages room-sharing (or co-sleeping on a separate surface) in its policy regarding SIDS prevention. “Room sharing is a form of co-sleeping and it is known that roomsharing decreases an infants chances dying by a third of one half compared with babies sleeping alone.

Dr. James McKenna is considered the father of co-sleeping and is the face behind many co-sleeping studies. He has published over 139 relevant scientific articles. Dr. McKenna says that human babies should not sleep alone and that babies need their mothers beside them.

Mother-infant cosleeping with breastfeeding is humankind’s oldest and most successful sleeping arrangement. Cosleeping remains a cross-cultural human universal, a species-wide behavior, an expectable and physiologically normal sleeping arrangement likely designed by natural selection to maximize infant survival and well-being. Only in a relatively few select cultures (Western, industrialized societies) have infants ever slept outside the company and presence of their breastfeeding mothers.

In short, being in close proximity to it’s mother is a genuine, physiological need for a human infant.

Here is Dr. James McKenna on the biology of infant sleep:

Although this is lengthy, I also recommend watching this 13 minute video produced in 2005 by the University of Notre Dame, interviewing Dr. McKenna.

Dr. William Sears is another attachment parenting & co-sleeping advocate, and his advocacy started with his own family’s experiences!

Co-sleeping seems to get a bad rap since people lump it in with unsafe co-sleeping (on the couch, in a chair, on soft surfaces, with pillows & blankets, with a babysitter, while Mom is under the influence of drugs or alcohol etc.) and bedsharing of all kinds. In fact, research shows crib sleeping babies are twice as likely to suffer a “sleep related fatality” (including SIDS) than those who sleep in bed with their parents. In other countries where co-sleeping and bedsharing is the norm, the SIDS rate is a fraction of the United States’.

Dr. Sears talks about the latest studies on SIDS & Co-sleeping, examining the numbers and concluding that “if the incidence of SIDS is dramatically higher in crib versus a parent’s bed, and because the cases of accidental smothering and entrapment are only 1.5% of the total SIDS cases, then sleeping with a baby in your bed would be far safer than putting baby in a crib. The answer is not to tell parents they shouldn’t sleep with their baby, but rather to educate them on how to sleep with their infants safely.”

Interestingly, the co-sponsor of the campaign warning parents how “dangerous” sleeping with their babies is, is the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), which is a group of crib manufacturers. Hmm…

Co-sleeping while following safe co-sleeping guidelines can lead to a successful breastfeeding relationship and a happier, healthier Mom, baby & family! Although no studies have definitively linked safe co-sleeping with a reduction in the SIDS rate, Dr. James McKenna notes that “studies show that while co-sleeping, infants breastfeed more frequently and for longer total duration; they have more arousals, many of which are induced by the mother’s movements or sounds, and that the infants spend less time in the deep stage of sleep from which some infants have difficulty arousing (apnea). […]the mother’s and infant’s acute responsiveness to the other’s activities, […] seem to change the infant’s physiology in ways that look potentially helpful in resisting a SIDS event.”

Have you tried co-sleeping with any of your babies?

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • November 14, 2014 at 9:33 pm

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  • January 18, 2014 at 10:29 pm

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  • Maggie J.
    November 11, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    I was a little afraid to co-sleep with our first baby, at first, and I didn’t know how to nurse lying down. One night, exhausted, from getting up every 30 minutes to get our High Need Baby I was perched on the edge of our four poster very high bed. I started to fall asleep, and my baby started to roll off my lap! I caught her in time and said to myself (and my husband when he woke up that morning) “I need to learn to nurse lying down and co-sleep. I almost dropped the baby on the hard wood floor from exhaustion!” I taught myself to nurse lying down, (not difficult, I just followed my instinct as all the pictures in books in the 80s showed uncomfortable positions) and I never looked back.

    We co-slept with all our babies, even our preterm baby, who was lain on a very firm pillow with my arm around her all night. She was early and very tiny, but very healthy, but she would cry if she wasn’t touching me. Even the hospital where she was born encouraged me to c0-sleep with her, (she never went to “The Nursery” except when they were weighing her once a day for a few minutes) very different than with my older children more than 10 years earlier, when I was yelled at for falling asleep with the baby in my bed. The nurses at the hospital with our youngest were always happy to see that tiny little not quite 5 lb baby cuddled next to me, warm and comfy getting all the milk she could hold from me.

    All our children were sleeping on their own (most of the time) by the age of 2 or 3, and they are now from young teens and adults who are all very independent. C0-sleeping was the best decision I made as a parent, next to extended breastfeeding.

  • Alma
    August 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    As a kid, my mom co-slept with all of us, so when I had my son I knew we would be co-sleeping. When I even remotely mentioned it to family members or friends, they were horrified. It became my dirty, shameful secret.
    I purchased a co-sleeper and we also bed shared and it was wonderful. My son now 3 transitioned on his own to his toddler bed, which is in our room, and we’ll transition him to his own room soon.
    My husband was a huge supporter once he found out how much better sleep was with a less fidgety mama.
    I told my best friend about our co-sleeping experience and let her borrow our co-sleeper and she loves it. There is nothing more reassuring than reaching out and touching baby to make sure he’s ok.

  • Brenda
    August 9, 2013 at 1:00 am

    We have co-slept with our son, who is now 16 months old since birth ( he was 9 weeks premature). At first we tried the co-sleeping bed (way to flimsy) so we bought the nest where he slept on his own surface in our bed. I have to say that was more of a comfort thing, so we could get trained that he was in the bed.
    I would not trade him sleeping with us for anything in the world. My premature baby slept through the night at 2 months old. I think that if you are an informed person you can make the correct decision for yourself. There are devices out on the market to help ease any fears, one just needs to stop and research things.

    • August 9, 2013 at 9:30 am

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It was probable very comforting to have your preemie right next to you also!

  • Maggie
    August 2, 2013 at 2:35 am

    My son sleeps next to me form the min he was born til now 8 months later. I get more sleep then all the other moms told me I would get. I would not have it any other way. I tryed haveing him in a crib in my room he didn’t sleep witch means I didn’t sleep. Once I put him in our bed with us he fell right to sleep. I plan to co sleep with or next baby to. I would not have it any other way

  • Danielle
    May 13, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    I had my first child sleep with me most of the time and had a bassinet next to the bed to.. didnt get the best looks when I would tell people but with my second child I dont care who knows…I sleep with him too. When we were in the hospital my secound child would gag and start choking with no sounds and if he was on he back swaddle up away from me in a bed I wouldhave never known and he might not be here…So yes my child sleeps on my chest or next to me in my bed and I wouldnt have it any other way and I do let my doctors know. I feel my child is safe and im able to respond to him a lot faster.

    • May 22, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      I agree! I am really responsive, yet I don’t even fully awake to take care of his needs. I love it! I don’t know what I was so afraid of. 🙂

  • Samantha
    December 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    I know of a family who co-slept also. The mother went to to work early in the morning & let the father & baby continue sleeping in bed together. One morning the father woke up & found he had rolled on top of the infant & suffocated her. Most doctors will tell you just how dangerous it is. To me, it’s just not worth the risk.

    • Samantha
      December 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      Also, I have a 26 month old who sleeps in her own room. She began sleeping in a basinette next to our bed, then transitioned into her own room. We have a video monitor so that I can see & hear her at all times. It does plenty to calm my worries. She also doesn’t sleep with any blankets or pillows so that there’s less risk of suffocation.

      • Mallory
        January 8, 2013 at 5:10 pm

        Samantha, this is an example of unsafe co-sleeping. Mothers who co-sleep from the beginning are able to do so safely. It is, unfortunately, not the same for fathers. And doctors will tell you a lot of crap mixed in with their valid advise. Truth be told, many of them just don’t have much information about a lot of these topics. We shouldn’t be blindly taking their advise without doing our own research and also listening to our instincts. We co-sleep with our daughter who is now almost two and have been able to do so sensibly and safely.

  • Marcela
    April 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    We co-sleep with our 6 month old. I can´t even imagine her sleeping alone in another room. Just the thought of it makes me feel panicky. We joined a double bed with a single bed. There is of course, no gap between the beds and they both have very firm mattresses. We love watching her sleep, waking up with her and breast-feeding is so easy – I feed her while we are both laying facing each other and then we quickly fall asleep again. We´ll keep co-sleeping with her until she wants to sleep in her own room. It makes so much sense to sleep together. It´s so much safer for the baby and is just such a joyful thing to do!

  • November 16, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    […] making this TL;DR worthy (too long; didn’t read) I’m writing a separate post about Co-sleeping: Facts and Expert Opinions. I hope you read […]

  • November 16, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    We still co-sleep with our 33 month old and absolutely love it! We don’t have beds, just our queen mattress and her crib mattress on the floor. She sleeps very well, almost nothing can wake her. That wasn’t always the case, she only started sleeping soundly at around 2 years old. I’m 41 weeks pregnant and due any minute, we will continue co sleeping with two for at least a few weeks because our toddler’s room isn’t finished, but now she is very excited to be getting her own room and is looking forward to sleeping by herself. 🙂 I wouldn’t have it any other way, I can’t imagine having an infant sleep on his/her own in their own room. That is actually a very modern Western thing, not common in the rest of the world.

  • Delora
    November 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I tried both room sharing and co-sleeping with my second child, but found I wasn’t getting any sleep at all. Every little noise he’d make would have me awake and then I couldn’t fall back asleep. This went on for a few weeks, and we finally started having him sleep in a separate room in a crib for part of the night, and I’d bring him back to bed with me for the last part of the night. While still on maternity leave, we’d sleep and dream feed for most of the morning, and that’s when I was able to get most of my sleep in.

  • November 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    We’re a co-sleeping family. Both my husband and I came from co-sleeping families, so we knew that we were going to try it with each of our children. We co-slept with our first until she was about 18 months, and then transitioned her to a toddler bed in our room, and later to another room. We did the same with our son, and plan on co-sleeping with our next baby, due to arrive any second! Co-sleeping allowed me to be a more rested, attentive mama. I think it also helped a lot with the panic attacks I had after our first child. Having her right there (and being able to get better sleep) helped me to deal with the anxiety and panic.

  • November 16, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    With my first child I was a nervous, anxious Mom. Sleeping near my baby not only soothed him, but also my worries. I frequently placed a hand on him to feel him breathe through the night. We were careful with blankets, not pillows, etc. and had nothing but a wonderful experience. There was rarely crying at bedtime. We just snuggled down and he would go to sleep. Now he is a happy 4-year old in his own bed and I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. I still co sleep with our 2-year old daughter and will be transitioning her to room sharing in her own toddler bed soon. For our next baby there won’t be a question, we will co sleep.

    I was surprised to find how many of our friends, pediatrician, etc. who co sleep. The sad thing is no one comes out to talk about it without a mile of disclaimers.

  • November 16, 2011 at 9:59 am

    These videos are fantastic! I love it. I have co-slept with all three of my babies, the second two much longer than than with our first. We are still sleeping with our youngest at 26 months old. She is an amazing sleeper and I can’t think of any better way to wake up, than with her next to me. I don’t believe that it’s for everyone, but it is certainly for our family.

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