Courtney - posted on 03/03/2010 ( 3 moms have responded )
personally im a co-sleeper and i love cuddling up with my daughter at night time
What are the advantages of having our baby sleep with us?
If you and your partner both work during the day, co-sleeping can give you extra time to spend with your baby. The nurturing and closeness that happen during the night can help create a stronger relationship between you and your child.
Some studies have shown that sleep-sharing babies tend to breastfeed more, yet disrupt their mother's sleep less, than babies who sleep alone. Mothers who share a bed with their baby tend to breastfeed their babies for longer periods of time, perhaps because they find it easier to breastfeed in bed rather than getting up during the night to feed their baby.
Babies who sleep with their parents tend to stay awake for shorter periods of time during the night than solitary sleepers, and they may cry a lot less, too. Sleeping close to your baby allows you to quickly respond if she starts to cough or cry in the night.
Some people believe that babies who co-sleep with their parents are more independent, more outgoing, and more confident as children. As adults, they have higher self-esteem, better stress-management skills, and are more comfortable with intimacy than adults who slept alone as babies. However, sleeping arrangements on their own cannot make your baby into a particular type of person.
Babies who co-sleep tend to wake less often, and go back to sleep sooner, than babies who sleep alone in another room. However, some babies are simply better at soothing themselves back to sleep than others. For this reason, it's misleading to think that co-sleeping will influence when your baby starts sleeping through the night.
What are the disadvantages of having our baby sleep with us?
Sharing your bed with a wriggling, kicking, squirming baby takes some getting used to, and you may not sleep as well as you do when your baby sleeps alone. If your baby gets used to falling asleep next to you, she may have trouble sleeping when you leave her with a relative or babysitter.
Depending on how old your child is and how long she has been sleeping with you, making the eventual transition from family bed to her own bed can be a long, drawn-out process. See our article on moving your baby out of the family bed for more ideas.
Sleep sharing can affect your love life too. Spontaneous lovemaking when your baby's in the bed isn't really an option. Many parents find another room to make love in to avoid disturbing their baby. At times, one or both of you may resent having to make this kind of compromise.
To reduce the risk of cot death, the Department of Health (Department of Health 2009) recommends that you shouldn't share a bed with your baby if you or your partner has been drinking alcohol, taking drugs or medication, or if either of you is a smoker. Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair. See our article on how to sleep with your baby safely.
How does co-sleeping work if I go to bed later than my baby?
If you're wondering how to get your baby to sleep when you're not ready to go to sleep with her, there's no right or wrong answer. Some parents lie down with their baby until she's sleeping soundly, then get up to carry on their evening. Some keep their baby up with them in the evening.
While your baby's small it's best to leave her in a Moses basket or cot if you're not in the room with her. Use a bed rail to keep her safely in the bed when she's bit older.