Is it really that bad to sleep with your baby?

Hope - posted on 10/07/2009 ( 139 moms have responded )

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I axidently fell asleep with Alyssa one night and we both slept sooo good and i know its bad but if we do it safe is it that bad?

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Lisa - posted on 10/08/2009

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I work in childcare and have taking trianing regarding SIDS, etc. It can definantly be harmful sleeping with your baby in your bed, due to movement of you, the pillows, bedding and such. the reason being is that if something DOES happen to fall over baby's mouth, or baby's face gets pressed into the mattress, baby can't move it, and might not be able to cry ( or you might not wake up to the cries). However, in an effort to meet the desires of parents who would like the convience and closeness of letting baby sleep in their bed, many companies now make a kind of bassinet that attaches to your bed, allowing baby their own, safe sleeping space while allowing you to just reach over/roll over to feed and care for baby. They are called co-sleepers ( imagination at work, huh?). Yes, babies do die in cribs, mostly because parents put things in cribs that should not be there. Even a bumper pad on a crib is a choking/strangulation hazzard. Baby should be laid in the bed with their feet touching ( or nearly) the end of the crib, with a blanket snuggly stretched across the crib, tucked in on all 3 sides that touch the bed. the blanket should not reach higher on your baby than the "nipple line", and baby should be laying on his/her back. This is called the Back to Sleep program. also, any toys in the bed should be put at the foot of the bed, and be able to ATTACH to the bed. I breast fed my 1st, and am currently doing so with my 2nd. There are times when I have fallen asleep sitting up with my baby on the boppy pad while feeding ( he falls asleep too.) I try hard not to, but sometimes those things happen. I wish you luck, and I do advise to look into the bassinett that attaches to your bed. It's probably the best way to give you both what you want, while being safe about it.

Iysha - posted on 10/08/2009

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Hope, whatever you decide to do, just make sure you wiegh the pros and cons. Also keep in mind that experts conduct studies for a reason. It's amazing how many people ignore expert advice. I mean, I hear of moms giving their 3 week old bottles of water between feedings, eventhough it can lead to seizures, and not securing their babies in carseats because they cry. Just because something has been done for a long period of time doesn't necessarily make it right or safe or whatever. Like I said before, I don't agree with sleeping with my child because I feel that there are more things that can harm her that I have no control of. At least I know that I have made the proper precautions for her to sleep there and I know that I won't have any accidents happen that could have been prevented. It is your choice. We are not here to influence you or tell you what is right or wrong, just giving our opinions and hoping you can take our advice into consideration. Just take the proper precautions in whatever you decide to do and make sure you feel like YOU have done the right thing reguardless of what anyone else my think. No mother should do something simply because she wants to without first knowing what could happen and making sure she does everything she can to prevent anything bad happening to her child.

[deleted account]

Quoting Iysha:

Yup, not an expert, I just work in the medical field, and have an aunt who is an ER doctor and sees children who have been injured because their parents sleep with their child. You're right, I'm not an expert, just well informed.

If you didn't sleep, than that's fine. Not against holding you child while they sleep. I'm talking about sleeping with your child.


You're not well informed at all.  Sorry.  Babies get hurt in cribs too.  And, SIDS is significantly lower in babies that bed share.  Yes, it does need to be done safely and properly, but if done so, it is not more dangerous than crib sleeping.  Co-sleeping has been done forever and there are numerous cultures in which it is the norm.  Expecting babies to sleep on their own is a very new idea, relatively speaking - only since the early 1900's in western culture.  Additionally, from a biological perspective, babies are designed to sleep with their moms.  They do not have good body regulation with breathing and temps until around 9 months- mom's breathing and body help regulate baby's body.  Further, if breastfeeding, hormones are released that make mom more alert.  To each their own as far as what works best for their families, but let's not perpetuate myths.

Iysha - posted on 10/08/2009

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How do you propose you sleep with your bay safe? If you are sleeping with her in your arms, you don't think that you might move? If she is next to you on your bed, are you sure that no blankets, pillows, hair, clothing, body parts will keep her from breathing or hurt her in any way? If she sleeps on your chest, you don't think there is a possibility for her to roll off at all? I think that sleeping with your baby is an accident waiting to happen. You have no control over what you are doing while you sleep.Having a Co-sleeper is different, at least the baby is in it's own little space and can't be hurt ( except for the 2 babies that have died in a particular co-sleeper that is now being recalled). Besides, having her in your bed might, and most likely will, form a habbit that is hard to break.



I decided on having my 3 month old baby sleep in her bassinet, well now her crib, since I have evaluated our options fully and have found that it is the safest place for her to sleep. I also like the fact that because she is not right there with me, I have mastered her cues on when she is hungry, just making noise in her sleep, or awake but not hungry and will just fall bck to sleep, and even when her diaper has gotten too moist and needs a changing. Not having her in my bed with me has been a great advantage and most importantly she is safe.

[deleted account]

It is not a bad thing to fall asleep with baby. If you're mindful of safety, it's the best place for baby to be... and not only because you'll get heaps of decent sleep.



My husband and I co-sleep with our kids. From the day they were born, my sons have slept with me. When our ped came in to hospital to do the initial check-up on baby (both times), he would see that baby was in bed with me. His instant reaction was praise that I wasn't leaving him in the "nasty, plastic box" and he wished more parents would co-sleep with their babies because "it's the best place for baby." Last time I checked, he was a medical professional too (and one who specialises in children).



The whole anti-cosleeping movement was born in the Industrial Revolution. Rich people could afford the extra room and a crib for baby, so it was seen that you were poor if your baby slept in your bed. This mode of thinking has since evolved into "it's bad" instead of "you must be poor". Non-Western countries still practice co-sleeping with great success.



The notion that a child will be sleeping with you until she/he leaves for college is unfounded as well. It is normal for children to co-sleep until age 3. My firstborn is 2 1/2 and is a product of co-sleeping. He's a very independent boy, and decided that he wanted to sleep in his own bed when he turned 2. So he sleeps in a single bunk bed (on the lower bunk of course), with no rails. There are still times when he comes into the family bed (mostly when he's sick), but I expect that to happen and it doesn't bother us. For extra room I have a cot in a side car arrangement (it's got 3 sides and pushed up against my side of the bed), which I actually used when my firstborn was little too. So if you don't want to fully co-sleep, that is always an option. It's great because baby is still within arm's reach, but not taking up bedspace. That makes it easier to transition as well.



As for SIDS, they really don't know what causes it, but there was a study done that suggests it is actually the chemical fumes given off by new cot mattresses that is the cause. There is a special mattress cover you can get that prevents these fumes from being released. They were able to reduce SIDS cases by 75% in this NZ study. Whether that's the real cause (or the exclusive one), who knows.



When you turn your martial bed into the family bed, it actually makes you more creative with your intimate relationship. My husband and I have a good intimate relationship, it's just not in the family bed. There are plenty of other places for such activities only limited by your imagination.



I think it's possible to find a study to support almost anything (it wasn't that long ago there was a study that said tomatoes caused cancer), so after doing research you just have to go with what's best for you, your baby and the family.



Good luck, and despite what anyone says, you are the only person who can decide what's best for you.

139 Comments

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Robin - posted on 02/28/2013

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All I'm hearing are positives to letting your babies sleep with you all (so be it), but is it possible that women sleep with their babies because it's easier to give in, and it gets them to shut up in the beginning? No offense. :-D Both of my babies were sleeping through the night at very early ages, but co-sleepers I've known didn't get their babies to sleep for sometimes after they were over a year (which sounds absolutely miserable to me). Your baby will be fine in his/her bed (just make sure he/she has their needs completely met, and let them get used to their bed - eventually it will be their comfort zone, and besides, getting them used to snuggling up to you all night long, then when the time comes that you *have* to put them to bed for the night seems a little, well, mean). Never co-slept, but took advantage of snuggling whenever baby and I were awake, and I got so much more sleep without the baby in bed with me (and believe me, the husband was very thankful he didn't have to share our bed - which is another factor to add in). Co-sleeping parents say they stop around one years old, but I've known some with seven year olds still in their beds most nights.

Of course all moms need to weigh the pros and cons. Do what you believe is best.

Sheralie - posted on 10/23/2009

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I co slept with both my children and I personally see no problem with it. I breastfed my son and I had to pump with my daughter so keeping them close at night made life a great deal more comfortable and easier. When they slept on their own I was always checking on them, and worrying lol.

Searra - posted on 10/14/2009

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if you feel confident sleeping with your child then you should. i was always told not but i still did. -and one of the first times i did i had a 'social worker' come and seen him in bed with my husband since she barged in to see the baby.. - it really does come down to what kind of a sleeper you are and if there is someone else in the bed with you how they sleep. we never squished my son. it has been studied and found that your baby will sleep better when they are against you or laying next to you because they sync into your breathing and its been known to reduce the possibility of SIDS because they found that babies sleeping alone would stop breathing or have lapses in breathing but when they were with mom they had no issues.

Joanne - posted on 10/14/2009

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There is nothing wrong with co sleeping as long as you know all the risk when it comes to sids (smoking, over heating etc). I co slept with my son until I controlled cried him in his cot at 9½ months & my daughter who is only 8 months old and always ends up in bed with me. If you feel comfortable with it don't stress.

Raquel - posted on 10/14/2009

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I think its a way of bonding with your child...my daughter's 6 months now and she sleeps with me. She loves being close to me and that makes me feel great about being a mom and not only that it just nurturing. I know it may cause a problem in the future when she's 3 or 5 but who cares and thats a problem I'm willing to face lol...Its a special bond between her and I. she feels safe having mommy nearby and she sleeps better. As long as you don't roll or toss and is very aware that a baby is sleeping nearby you...I don't see a problem. You just have to be a light sleeper & cautious about the pillows and comforture not covering the baby's face or being life threatening to them.

Raeann - posted on 10/14/2009

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I dont think its a bad thing. My son has slept in the same bed as my husband and I for 11 months now. I know alot of people say that its wrong but we all sleep so much better when we all are together.

Sarah - posted on 10/14/2009

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Quoting Iysha:

So, having your baby in your bed because she is teething is okay, she will be safe because...she's teething? Umm...if motrin didn't help, try some baby Tylenol, Tissue salts, Oragel, Something is bound to work! I gave my daughter Infant Tylenol when she was starting to teethe right after her night feeding and she was out all night!

Anyway, I'm not here to argue, just give you all my opinion that yes, I do think having your baby with you while you sleep is not a good chioce and to give the reasons why I feel that way. Good luck with the whole sleeping with your baby thing.... hope it goes well for you.






I think you are very rude, when you speak your opinion. You dont have to be so negative with your responses. I understand you are against it but, you dont have to attack other moms quotes.



 



 



 



_I agree with this i think u sound very rude, sometimes it is the only thing we can do my daughter had open heart surgery when she was only 8 months old and was so traumitised by this she wudnt sleep on her own in her own cot i cudnt leave my child hysterical after going thru tha n it was the best thing we ever did she sleeps from time to time now in her own cot or in our bed an i dont mind either way as long as she feels safe, and lots of other mums i know do exactly the same. id jus keep ur opinions to urself from now on if u cant put ur opinion across without offendin others





 

Carrie - posted on 10/14/2009

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i think that the only reason say it is so awful is because they can become spoiled i think that it is totally fine!! i sleep with my daughter soemtimes and she does just fine own her own to :) its fine u do what u feel is good!

Petra - posted on 10/14/2009

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I thought the same thing when my child was a couple of months old. He has slept with us ever since, now aged 15 months, and I have no regrets. I totally recommend it. Do it safely. We actually ended up getting a king mattress, which we have on the floor so he can get in and out safely.

Alicia - posted on 10/14/2009

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it really depends on you. If you are a really heavy sleeper or drugged in any way then its probably not the greatest idea. Otherwise I think its fine. My daughter slept with me till she was 9 months old and it was great. I slept topless with her snuggled close and she'd root and find my breast in her sleep when she got hungry and I slept so lightly that if she even made one of those cute snuffle noises in her sleep id be wide awake. I just wasnt comfortable with her sleeping away from me even if it was in the same room. I tried it one night when we brought her home and I spent the whole night checking if she was breathing all right and that was the end of that lol.

Ashlyn - posted on 10/14/2009

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i sleep with both of my kids and my son is almost 5 months and my daughter is 2

Katie - posted on 10/14/2009

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I'm not an expert or anything, but I have a 1 month old and after falling asleep after breast feeding her one night I started putting the Boppy I have up on my bed and letting her sleep in it with me. It seems like she sleeps so much longer when I let her sleep with me. I do what works lol.

Kiara - posted on 10/14/2009

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We try not to let Darius sleep with us so much but sometimes it jus happens. Most of the time its his dad who gets him. He jus loves to have his little man sleepin on his chest. Its quite cute but we put him in his own bed jus as much so he's okay with whatver one happens at the time

Brooke - posted on 10/14/2009

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Luke has slept with us since the day he came home from the hospital and he's now 3 months old. I love it! I love having him close to where all I have to do is open my eyes to check on him. I'm a light sleeper and not a big mover so it works for us, but some people probably shouldnt if theyre a heavy sleeper or toss and turn. I know they say not to and several of my friends have told me not to but it's different for everyone

Samantha - posted on 10/14/2009

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Well, I sleep w/my baby sometimes and I have not had any problems because I sleep stiff as a board when he is next to me. However, I try not to sleep w/him too much because he can get spoiled and never want to sleep in his own bed and for me at least, I don't get the best sleep anymore. Whether or not my son is sleeping next to me, I always wake up numerous times in the middle of the night to feel around and make sure he is ok. It takes at least 2 hrs of sleep away from me on top of the sleep I get taken away from him waking me up. So as long as you aren't a rough sleeper you should be ok, but I really don't recommend making this a habit because I learned the hard way and now I don't get as much sleep as I could be getting.

Ashley - posted on 10/14/2009

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When Cassie was born, she would not sleep in her crib. She slept in my bed until she was 4 months old. I think it could be both a good thing and bad thing. It took alot to get her to sleep in her own crib, she did not like sleeping by herself. Now, she won't sleep with me at all.. I get lonely sometimes and try to bring her in the bed with me, but she refuses to sleep. It's crazy.

Shawntey - posted on 10/14/2009

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My son is 3 months and he sleeps in the bed with me. my bed is against a wall so he sleeps on that side of the bed and i sleep on the other. I make sure that there are pillows against the wall so there's no chance of him rolling into the wall and I am always aware of where he is so I don't roll onto him. It's really convenient especially since I'm breastfeeding.

Christina - posted on 10/14/2009

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Quoting Breanna:

I've slept with my daughter since the beginning and shes now 4 months old.. she gets one half of the bed and i get the other. I put a bed railing on her half just to be safe. I'm a light sleeper and i never move or roll in bed without knowing it. This might not work for everyone but it seems to work best for us :)



 



I'm like this too, very light sleeper & never move once I get comfortable.  Both of my babies slept with my husband & me.  For my daughter, that was until she was 4 months old hen I had to stop nursing.  When I stopped nursing, she was DONE with me lol.  As for my son, he slept with us until he was 5 months old.  I decided he needed to go to his crib oncet he outgrew colic (thank God!) but he is still such a light sleeper that any movement or sound wakes him up so he's better off in his own room.



I thnk it's ok to sleep with your baby if you are a light sleeper & don't move a lot.  I think it helps with the bond.





 

Susan - posted on 10/14/2009

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I have seven children. I have allowed all of my children to sleep with my husband and I at one time or another and they are all happy well adjusted children, besides it makes you work harder at your love life because you have to be creative about alone time.

Michelle - posted on 10/14/2009

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I often fall asleep with my son who is 4 months old and every morning once his dad has left for work he is in the bed with me till we wake up. even naps in the afternoon we take together in same bed if possible. i think it helps with bonding as well as sleeping. plus i am still breastfeeding so make that easier too. I think you should just go with what you think is best as long as you are safe about it then no worries. xx

Lisa - posted on 10/14/2009

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no its not bad unless you are a smoker or something like that,.... but it may bite you in the but later on, if she gets too use to you sleeping with her and you want to go out for the night and she wont go to sleep cause your not there..

Amber - posted on 10/13/2009

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of course its not bad. i let my 6 month old sleep with me. it lets me know that he is safe at all times. if you are married, find another place in the house to spend special time with him. thats what my husband and i do. we make sure our son is asleep first and then go to another room. its baby time now and there isnt much lovey dovey time anymore. but it wont last forever.

Amanda - posted on 10/13/2009

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I myself sleep with my son (10 weeks old) because it is a lot easier with nursing and comforting him. However, I use a co-sleeper (Snuggle Nest) when doing so. I'm a paramedic and have unfortunately taken an infant just recently to the ER in cardiac arrest due to SIDS (as far as we could tell, anyway). This baby was found in a play-pen on its back, but that does not mean it wasn't in the parent's bed or had a blanket on it beforehand. Even though I do encourage SAFE co-sleeping, I do so with a lot of caution. The main causes of SIDS are having the infant sleep on its stomach and overheating, which is why the autopsy cannot find a cause of death. To those of you who state experts encourage co-sleeping, the following was taken directly from mayoclinic.com "Keep your baby nearby. Consider keeping your baby's crib or bassinet in your room at first. Infants who sleep in the same room — though not in the same bed — as their mothers have a lower risk of SIDS" The term co-sleeping refers to keeping the baby near you at night, not directly in the bed with you. As I've said before, I too sleep with my son now but will be transitioning him into his crib soon...especially after dealing with the infant I could not save. Just please, please, please be careful when doing so. I would hate to have your little one be the next one I take to the ER in full resuscitation. I know I'm more careful than ever before.

Jamie - posted on 10/13/2009

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When I brought my daughter home we tried having her sleep on her own but she fussed a lot and cried a lot when we laid her down and it was horrible trying to get to to fall asleep..but when i laid down to nurse her she fell right asleep. I still co sleep with my daughter an she is 5 months old now and every night she falls asleep while nursing and sleeps through the night maybe waking once or twice briefly but she sleeps for a good 12 hours no joke. I've heard bad stories about babies waking up a lot and parents only getting few hours of sleep but since she has slept with me she's always slept really well. I plan on weaning her of this when she gives me up with breast feeding so she wont need to nurse before falling asleep. Ultimately it's the parents decision-

Melissa - posted on 10/13/2009

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I sleep with my daughter, Raelynn, all the time!!! We sleep so much better that way. I know that some people are completly against it, but I think it's a special bond that we have. I have never heard of someone going to college still needing to sleep with their mom, so I think its ok :o)

Annette - posted on 10/13/2009

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NOT BAD NUST B CAREFUL NOT TO DROP OR ROLL, BOUNDING IS VERY IMPORTANT AT THE EARLY STAGES.

Nancy - posted on 10/13/2009

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I've fallen asleep with my baby boy a few times while breastfeeding and I believe it's o.k as long as you realize that there's a baby beside you and you won't roll onto it or hit it. The only reason you're not suppose to is for those reasons. You could be in a deep sleep and roll onto it or hit it so it is best to not sleep with it. You also don't want her getting to use to sleeping with you because then she might want to do it all the time.

Lisa - posted on 10/13/2009

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wow--read the entire post two or three up, I did and it accurately describes the way bed-sharing works. I'm so in-tune with my kids, it's amazing. I love it. I believe my babies slept on their backs, as well as I did or we did face each other. it wasn't until they started getting older that I'd roll and we'd end up back snuggling (they snuggle into the space at my back and actually as toddlers sleep better that way (for me).
I have to admit being poor is a great way to lose all the "modern conveniences" such as cribs and strollers and bottles. I co-slept because I wanted to, but also because I saw the crib my grandma gave me and I hated it. I hated the bars and I hated that my baby would be alone.

Ivona - posted on 10/13/2009

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you can never be sure about something until it happens ...good luck to everyone ,the sad thing is no one listen no one until something happens...we all learn from our own mistakes...

Jamie - posted on 10/12/2009

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It's wonderful! It lowers SIDS, is great for breastfeeding, is great for their little self-esteem too. You just have to make sure you do it safely :)



Here is some great info from http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T071000...











CO-SLEEPING: YES, NO, SOMETIMES?

Dr. Bill's simple definition of co-sleeping: Mother and baby sleeping within arm's reach of one another. There's been so much confusion lately in the media about what co-sleeping means that I decided to come up with a simple accurate definition. As you will learn from the information below, the closer that mother and baby can sleep together the healthier it is for both of them.

Our Co-sleeping Experiences

Our Experiments

Co-sleeping Research

Stories From Co-Sleeping Parents

7 Benefits of Co-sleeping: Medical and Developmental

Arm's Reach® Co-Sleeper® Bassinet

Co-Sleeping and SIDS

Co-sleeping Safety

Sleep Safety





Back To Top

OUR CO-SLEEPING EXPERIENCES

Our first three babies were easy sleepers. We felt no need or desire to have them share our bed. Besides, I was a new member of the medical profession whose partyline was that sleeping with babies was weird and even dangerous. Then along came our fourth child, Hayden, born in 1978, whose birth changed our lives and our attitudes about sleep. Were it not for Hayden, many of our books might never have been written. Hayden hated her crib. Finally one night, out of sheer exhaustion my wife, Martha, brought Hayden into our bed. From that night on we all slept better. We slept happily together—so happily that we did it for four years, until the next baby was born!



Soon after we ventured into this "daring" sleeping arrangement, I consulted baby books for advice. Big mistake! They all preached the same old tired theme: Don't take your baby into your bed. Martha said, "I don't care what the books say, I'm tired and I need some sleep!" We initially had to get over all those worries and warnings about manipulation and terminal nighttime dependency. You're probably familiar with the long litany of "you'll-be-sorry" reasons. Well, we are not sorry; we're happy. Hayden opened up a new whole wonderful nighttime world for us that we now want to share with you.



Sleeping with Hayden opened our hearts and minds to the fact that there are many nighttime parenting styles, and parents need to be sensible and use whatever arrangement gets all family members the best night's sleep. Over the next sixteen years we slept with four more of our babies (one at a time). While it's nice to now have the bed to ourselves, we have these special nighttime connection memories.



Not an unusual custom

At first we thought we were doing something unusual, but we soon discovered that many other parents slept with their babies, too. They just don't tell their doctors or in-laws about it. In social settings, when the subject of sleep came up, we admitted that we slept with our babies. Other parents would secretly "confess" that they did, too. Why should parents have to be so hush-hush about this nighttime parenting practice and made to feel they are doing something strange? Most parents throughout the world sleep with their infants. Why is this beautiful custom taboo in our society? How could a culture be so educated in other things, yet be so misguided in parenting styles?

What to call it

Sleeping with your baby has various labels: The earthy term "family bed," while appealing to many, is a turn-off to parents who imagine a pile of kids squeezed into a small bed with dad and the family dog perched precariously on the mattress edge. "Co-sleeping" sounds more like what adults do. "Bed-sharing" is the term frequently used in medical writings. I prefer the term "sleep-sharing" because, as you will learn, a baby shares more than just bed space. An infant and mother sleeping side by side share lots of interactions that are safe and healthy.

A mindset more than a place to sleep

Sharing sleep involves more than a decision about where your baby sleeps. It is a mindset, one in which parents are flexible enough to shift nighttime parenting styles as circumstances change. Every family goes through nocturnal juggling acts at different stages of children's development. Sharing sleep reflects an attitude of acceptance of your baby as a little person with big needs. Your infant trusts that you, his parents, will continually be available during the night, as you are during the day. Sharing sleep in our culture also requires that you trust your intuition about parenting your individual baby instead of unquestionably accepting the norms of American society. Accepting and respecting your baby's needs can help you recognize that you are not spoiling your baby or letting him manipulate you when you welcome him into your bed.

What I noticed

In the early years of sleeping with our babies, I watched the sleep-sharing pair nestled next to me. I truly began to believe that a special connection occurs between the sleep-sharing pair that has to be good for baby. Was it brain waves, motion, or just something mysterious in the air that occurs between two people during nighttime touch? I couldn't help feeling there was something good and healthful about this arrangement. Specifically, I noticed these special connections:

Martha and baby naturally slept on their sides, belly-to-belly facing each other. Even if they started out at a distance, baby would naturally gravitate toward Martha, their heads facing each other, sort of a breath away. Most of the sleep-sharing mothers I have interviewed spend most of their night naturally sleeping on their backs or sides (as do their babies), positions that give mother and baby easier access to each other for breastfeeding. Other researchers have recently reported the prevalence of the face-to-face position during sleep-sharing (Mosko and McKenna 1994). (Scientific references listed at end of co-sleeping section).

When I noticed this face-to-face, almost nose-to-nose position, I wondered if the respiratory gasses from mother's nose might affect baby's breathing, and there is some experimental evidence to support this, (See —they take a deep breath.

Could there be sensors in a baby's nose that detect mother's breath, so that she is acting like a pacemaker or breathing stimulus? Researchers have discovered that the lining of the nose is rich in receptors that may affect breathing, though their exact function is unknown. (Widdicombe, 81). Perhaps mother's breath and/or smell stimulates some of these receptors, and thus affects baby's breathing. One of the main gases in an exhaled breath is carbon dioxide, which acts as a respiratory stimulant. Researchers have recently measured the exhaled air coming from a mother's nose while sleeping with her baby. They confirmed this logical suspicion that the closer baby is to mother's nose, the higher is the carbon dioxide concentration of the exhaled air, and the concentration of carbon dioxide between the face-to-face pair is possibly just the right amount to stimulate breathing (Mosko 1994).

As I watched the sleeping pair, I was intrigued by the harmony in their breathing. When Martha took a deep breath, baby took a deep breath. When I draped our tiny babies skin-to-skin over my chest, (a touch I dubbed "the warm fuzzy") , I noticed their breathing would synchronize with the rise and fall of my chest.

The sleep-sharing pair is often, but not always, in sleep harmony with each other. Martha would often enter a state of light sleep a few seconds before our babies did. They would gravitate toward one another, and Martha, by some internal sensor, would turn toward baby and nurse or touch her, and the pair would peacefully drift back to sleep, often without either member awakening. Also, there seemed to be occasional simultaneous arousal. When Martha or the baby would stir the other would also move. After spending hours watching these sleeping beauties, I was certain that each member of the sleep-sharing pair affects the sleep patterns of the other, yet I could only speculate how. Perhaps these mutual arousals allow mother and baby to "practice" waking up in response to a life-threatening event. (If SIDS is a defect in arousability from sleep, perhaps this practice would help baby's sleep arousability mature.)

Then there was the reach-out-and-touch-someone observation. The baby would extend an arm, touch Martha, take a deep breath and resettle.

I was amazed by how much interaction went on between Martha and our babies when they shared sleep. One would wiggle and the other would wiggle. Martha, even without awakening, would reach out and touch the baby who would move a bit in response to her touch. She would periodically semi-awaken to check on the baby, rearrange the covers, and then drift easily back to sleep. It seemed that baby and mother spent a lot of time during the night checking on the presence of each other. I did not miss the hours of sleep I gave up to study this fascinating relationship.

Our son, Dr. Jim, an avid sailor, offers a father's viewpoint on sleep- sharing sensitivity: "People often ask me how a sailor gets any sleep when ocean racing solo. While sleeping, the lone sailor puts the boat on autopilot. Because the sailor is so in tune with his boat, if the wind shifts so that something is not quite right with the boat, the sailor will wake up."



In essence, the sleep-sharing pair seemed to enjoy a mutual awareness without a mutual disturbance.



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OUR EXPERIMENTS

In 1992 we set up equipment in our bedroom to study eight-week-old Lauren's breathing while she slept in two different arrangements. One night Lauren and Martha slept together in the same bed, as they were used to doing. The next night, Lauren slept alone in our bed and Martha slept in an adjacent room. Lauren was wired (see figure) to a computer that recorded her electrocardiogram, her breathing movements, the airflow from her nose, and her blood oxygen level. The instrumentation was painless and didn't appear to disturb her sleep. Martha nursed Lauren down to sleep in both arrangements and sensitively responded to her during the nighttime as needed. (The equipment was designed to detect only Lauren's physiologic changes during sleep. The equipment did not pick up Martha's signals.) Martha nursed Lauren down to sleep in both arrangements and sensitively responded to Lauren's nighttime needs. A technician and I observed and recorded the information. The data was analyzed by computer and interpreted by a pediatric pulmonologist who was "blind" to the situation—that is, he didn't know whether the data he was analyzing came from the shared-sleeping or the solo-sleeping arrangement.



Our study revealed that Lauren breathed better when sleeping next to Martha than when sleeping alone. Her breathing and her heart rate were more regular during shared sleep, and there were fewer "dips," low points in respiration and blood oxygen from stop-breathing episodes. On the night Lauren slept with Martha, there were no dips in her blood oxygen. On the night Lauren slept alone, there were 132 dips. The results were similar in a second infant, whose parents generously allowed us into their bedroom. We studied Lauren and the other infant again at five months. As expected, the physiological differences between shared and solo sleep were less pronounced at five months than at two months.



In 1993 I was invited to present our sleep-sharing research to the 11th International Apnea of Infancy Conference, since this was the first study of sleep-sharing in the natural home environment (Sears, 1993). Certainly our studies would not stand up to scientific scrutiny, mainly because we only studied two babies. We didn't intend them to; it would be presumptuous to draw sweeping conclusions from studies in only two babies. We meant this only to be a pilot study. But we learned that with the availability of new microtechnology and in-home, nonintrusive monitoring, my belief about the protective effects of sharing sleep was a testable hypothesis. I hoped this preliminary study would stimulate other SIDS researchers to scientifically study the physiological effects of sharing sleep in a natural home environment.



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CO-SLEEPING RESEARCH

The physiological effects of sleep-sharing are finally being studied in sleep laboratories that are set up to mimic, as much as possible, the home bedroom. Over the past few years, nearly a million dollars of government research money has been devoted to sleep-sharing research. These studies have all been done on mothers and infants ranging from two to five months in age. Here are the preliminary findings based on mother-infant pairs studied in the sleep-sharing arrangement versus the solitary-sleeping arrangement (Elias 1986, McKenna 1993, Fleming 1994; Mosko 1994):



1. Sleep-sharing pairs showed more synchronous arousals than when sleeping separately. When one member of the pair stirred, coughed, or changed sleeping stages, the other member also changed, often without awakening.



2. Each member of the pair tended to often, but not always, be in the same stage of sleep for longer periods if they slept together.



3. Sleep-sharing babies spent less time in each cycle of deep sleep. Lest mothers worry they will get less deep sleep; preliminary studies showed that sleep-sharing mothers didn't get less total deep sleep.



4. Sleep-sharing infants aroused more often and spent more time breastfeeding than solitary sleepers, yet the sleep-sharing mothers did not report awakening more frequently.



5. Sleep-sharing infants tended to sleep more often on their backs or sides and less often on their tummies, a factor that could itself lower the SIDS risk.



6. A lot of mutual touch and interaction occurs between the sleep-sharers. What one does affects the nighttime behavior of the other.



Even though these studies are being conducted in sleep laboratories instead of the natural home environment, it's likely that within a few years enough mother-infant pairs will be studied to scientifically validate what insightful mothers have long known: something good and healthful occurs when mothers and babies share sleep.



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STORIES FROM CO-SLEEPING PARENTS: THE PROTECTIVE EFFECTS OF CO-SLEEPING

have selected the following quotes from my gallery of medical testimonies from my "consultants." These are professional mothers who have lots of intuition. Many are also pediatric nurses. Some of these mothers slept with their babies for fear of SIDS. These savvy women know babies.



"During the first six months of Leah's life, I noticed some dramatic differences in her sleeping when I wasn't sleeping next to her. In the morning I would often get up while she was still sleeping. Since I had the monitor on, I would hear loud and irregular breathing patterns rather than the quiet and regular breathing patterns she had when we slept together. There was a definite change in her breathing patterns after I would get out of bed. I think that I actually helped her breathe. Maybe I was her pacemaker. I also noticed that when she was five-months-old and I would get out of bed that after a while she would roll over onto her belly. She never rolled onto her belly when I slept next to her. She was always on her side or back."

"When my baby slept with me, I noticed there were times when he would stop breathing. I would wait, and wait, and wait and no breath would come. When I felt I had waited long enough, I would take a deep breath. At that very instant, so would Zach! Hearing my breathing actually stimulated his breathing impulses."

"Our newborn was on a monitor and slept in a cradle next to our bed. One night I heard her gasping. I know baby noises, and these weren't normal noises. As soon as I picked her up and put her next to me in bed, she breathed regularly. My pediatrician told me I was just a nervous mother. If her breathing didn't wake her up, it wasn't a problem. He told me it was my problem, and if I moved her out of our room I wouldn't hear her. I kept badgering pediatricians to study her and indeed they found she had apnea eighteen percent of the time. When she slept with me I noticed a difference. She breathed with me. My doctor still thought I was a nervous, crazy woman, and said she would be fine if I would just leave her alone."

"When my baby was three-months-old I went back to work part-time in the evenings. She became fussy and cried most of the time I was gone. By the time she went to sleep, she had worked herself into such a hysterical state that she cried herself to sleep. I feel that messed up her breathing. I would come home from work and put my ear down next to her crib, and I couldn't hear her breathing. Every seven or eight seconds she would take one or two gasps, and that's all I could hear. As soon as I picked her up and lay down with her on my bed, she started breathing more calmly and regularly again. She continued this panicky breathing in her crib at night for about a month. After that, I quit work and slept with her every night. That was my husband's idea. My friends told me to let her cry it out and that she had to learn to sleep by herself. The panicky breathing that I heard when she slept alone in the crib was not the sleep that I wanted her to learn."

"My baby usually sleeps with me, but sometimes he sleeps alone. When he sleeps alone he wakes up after a short while afraid. I believe that it is the afraidness that causes SIDS."

"My baby had a cold for a couple of weeks and one night she woke up in her crib gasping and struggling to breathe. Her breathing seemed obstructed, but after ten minutes she was fine. I took her to the doctor the next day, and he reassured me, 'There's never a warning sign of SIDS. There is never a precursor.' I wondered, "Is that because most babies are in cribs and no one witnesses the warning signs?"

"My baby had a breathing problem at night and seizures that were diagnosed as Sandifers Syndrome with reflux and a seizure disorder. The sleep study at one university hospital was done while baby was sleeping alone in a crib, and showed irregular breathing. I told the doctor that she normally slept with me, but he said it would make no difference and that he wanted to treat her with medication and put her on a heart monitor. She was now four months of age. I got a second opinion at another university hospital, where I asked them to do the same study while she slept with me. It showed normal results and the doctors advised me to stop the monitor and that nothing further needed to be done."

"Our baby would breathe like a choo-choo train when sleeping alone. When I would go over and touch him, he would breathe normally. When I took him into our bed, he would breathe normally."

"I don't want to sound psychic, but I know we are on the same brain wave when we sleep together. We seem to be in perfect nighttime harmony. He nurses at night and I don't even wake up. Because of this, my life is so much easier than with my first baby."

"At first I thought sleeping with your baby was nuts. Then our ten-week-old infant was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux . I realized I couldn't let him cry at night. It would be dangerous because crying brings on the reflux. So I slept with him, and he cried less. Now I'm so used to his breathing patterns that I wake up shortly before he does or when his breathing patterns change."

"Because we had two relatives who lost babies to SIDS, we monitored our first baby, and he slept with me. I recognized when his breathing rhythm changed. My husband and I would wake up seconds before the monitor went off. When I tapped and stroked him, he would start to breathe again."

"With my first baby, for fear of spoiling, I didn't let her sleep with me (now I know differently), but she slept within inches of me in a bassinet next to my bed. When she was three-and-a-half-months-old, I transferred her to a crib in her own room. That night I awoke in the middle of the night with a panicky feeling that I had to get to her. I found her not breathing. I gave her a shake and she started breathing. Evaluation at a children's hospital showed that she had frequent periods of apnea, from ten to fifty a night, and we hadn't even been aware of this. Then she went on a monitor, and our life revolved around the monitor. I was still afraid to sleep with her in my bed, because at that time the monitors didn't have a disconnect alarm, and I was afraid I would disconnect the monitor and wouldn't hear it if she had an apnea period. On many nights the alarm would go off every ten minutes to an hour. When she was around four-months, in desperation to get some sleep, I would sleep with her on my chest in a reclining chair. On those nights, we all slept better and there were no alarms. Even when we were sleeping separately, many times I would awaken immediately before the apnea alarm went off. I believe I had a connection to her. I felt a need to have her close to me. I think breastfeeding her and holding her a lot during the day helped give me that connection."

"Our baby has asthma, and I notice that if he sleeps in our bed his breathing is more regular and not as fast as when he sleeps alone. My husband has found he can also affect Nathaniel's breathing by pulling him close to his chest with a big "bear hug cuddle" and breathing slow and deep. This has become part of our asthma plan. Not only has it helped Nathaniel have more restful nights and require less medication, but my husband and I have more restful nights as well."

"Each of our five children slept in our bed until two-and-a-half to three- and-a-half-years-of-age, when they chose to move out. I noticed that they all slept with their faces toward mine and if I turned my face away from theirs, they'd awaken. I truly believe that babies and mothers breathe in synchrony, and when one stirs, so does the other. It always seems like I awaken with our babies, not after them. I believe this breathing connection is responsible for it."

"I slept with all six of my babies, and I think their breathing was more regular when they slept next to me. When I watched them sleep alone in the crib, their breathing seemed more irregular."

"Our sleep cycles seem to be in tune. I wake up a few seconds before she does."

"If it weren't for our daughter, we never would have considered sleep- sharing. During our childbirth classes the instructor mentioned, 'You might think about sharing sleep with your baby.' My husband and I looked at each other and said, 'That sounds liberal. No way, thank you. She will have her own bed in her own room.' One afternoon when our baby was twenty-days-old, the high winds in our house caused the door to her bedroom to slam loudly. I thought she'd be scared, so I quickly went in to check on her. I found her gray, ashen, limp, and not breathing. I thought she was gone—I'm a paramedic. I grabbed her and she started breathing. After studying several nights of monitor tracings, the doctors concluded that 'she had numerous episodes of periodic breathing like a 34 or 35-week premature baby.'

"Sort of on the sly, my doctor said, 'You might consider sleeping with her and nursing her at night while lying next to her. All our babies slept in our bed until they were twelve-to fifteen-months-old, and I've heard that a mother's presence regulates a baby's heartbeat.' I then said to my husband, 'Between my childbirth instructor, my La Leche League leader, Dr. Sears' books, and now my pediatrician, maybe we should rethink this matter."

"She slept in our bed the next ten months, monitored only by me. To my knowledge, she never had any more breathing difficulties. When people would say, 'Oh, she sleeps with you?' and give me a put-down look, I would simply say, 'Our doctor says it's best because it helps her regulate her breathing.' In my college classes, I get so angry when people equate sleeping with your baby with 'doing something different.' It's natural, like a mother holding a baby. I wish they wouldn't try to make it such a liberal thing. I can't express to you how strongly I feel it made a difference. Our next baby will sleep with us."

From the preceding evidence it seems that separate sleeping is not only unnatural, but may even be dangerous for some babies. Put new research findings together with the intuition of wise parents and you wonder whether sleep-sharing could not only make a psychological difference but also a physiological difference to babies. Each year more and more studies are confirming what savvy parents have long suspected: sharing sleep is not only safe, but also healthy for their babies. Thus, I leave it to parents to consider the following: If there were fewer cribs, would there be fewer crib deaths?



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7 BENEFITS OF CO-SLEEPING: MEDICAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL



There is no right or wrong place for baby to sleep. Wherever all family members sleep the best is the right arrangement for you. Remember, over half the world's population sleeps with their baby, and more and more parents in the U.S. are sharing sleep with their little one. Here's why:



1. Babies sleep better

Sleepsharing babies usually go to sleep and stay asleep better. Being parented to sleep at the breast of mother or in the arms of father creates a healthy go-to-sleep attitude. Baby learns that going to sleep is a pleasant state to enter (one of our goals of nighttime parenting).

Babies stay asleep better. Put yourself in the sleep pattern of baby. As baby passes from deep sleep into light sleep, he enters a vulnerable period for nightwaking, a transition state that may occur as often as every hour and from which it is difficult for baby to resettle on his own into a deep sleep. You are a familiar attachment person whom baby can touch, smell, and hear. Your presence conveys an "It's OK to go back to sleep" message. Feeling no worry, baby peacefully drifts through this vulnerable period of nightwaking and reenters deep sleep. If baby does awaken, she is sometimes able to resettle herself because you are right there. A familiar touch, perhaps a few minutes' feed, and you comfort baby back into deep sleep without either member of the sleep-sharing pair fully awakening.



Many babies need help going back to sleep because of a developmental quirk called object or person permanence. When something or someone is out of sight, it is out of mind. Most babies less than a year old do not have the ability to think of mother as existing somewhere else. When babies awaken alone in a crib, they become frightened and often unable to resettle back into deep sleep. Because of this separation anxiety, they learn that sleep is a fearful state to remain in (not one of our goals of nighttime parenting).



2. Mothers sleep better

Many mothers and infants are able to achieve nighttime harmony: babies and mothers get their sleep cycles in sync with one another.

Martha notes: "I would automatically awaken seconds before my baby would. When the baby started to squirm, I would lay on a comforting hand and she would drift back to sleep. Sometimes I did this automatically and I didn't even wake up."

Contrast sleepsharing with the crib and nursery scene. The separate sleeper awakens – alone and behind bars. He is out of touch. He first squirms and whimpers. Still out of touch. Separation anxiety sets in, baby becomes scared, and the cry escalates into an all-out wail or plea for help. This piercing cry awakens even the most long distance mother, who jumps up (sometimes out of the state of deep sleep, which is what leads to most nighttime exhaustion), and staggers reluctantly down the hall. By the time mother reaches the baby, baby is wide awake and upset, mother is wide awake and upset, and the comforting that follows becomes a reluctant duty rather than an automatic nurturant response. It takes longer to resettle an upset solo sleeper than it does a half-asleep baby who is sleeping within arm's reach of mother. Once baby does fall asleep, mother is still wide-awake and too upset to resettle easily. If, however, the baby is sleeping next to mother and they have their sleep cycles in sync, most mothers and babies can quickly resettle without either member of the sleepsharing pair fully awakening. Being awakened suddenly and completely from a state of deep sleep to attend to a hungry or frightened baby is what leads to sleep-deprived parents and fearful babies.



3. Breastfeeding is easier

Most veteran breastfeeding mothers have, for survival, learned that sharing sleep makes breastfeeding easier. Breastfeeding mothers find it easier than bottlefeeding mothers to get their sleep cycles in sync with their babies. They often wake up just before the babies awaken for a feeding. By being there and anticipating the feeding, mother can breastfeed baby back to a deep sleep before baby (and often mother) fully awakens.

A mother who had achieved nighttime-nursing harmony with her baby shared the following story with us:

"About thirty seconds before my baby wakes up for a feeding, my sleep seems to lighten and I almost wake up. By being able to anticipate his feeding, I usually can start breastfeeding him just as he begins to squirm and reach for the nipple. Getting him to suck immediately keeps him from fully waking up, and then we both drift back into a deep sleep right after feeding."



Mothers who experience daytime breastfeeding difficulties report that breastfeeding becomes easier when they sleep next to their babies at night and lie down with baby and nap nurse during the day. We believe baby senses that mother is more relaxed, and her milk-producing hormones work better when she is relaxed or sleeping.



4. It's contemporary parenting

Sleepsharing is even more relevant in today's busy lifestyles. As more and more mothers, out of necessity, are separated from their baby during the day, sleeping with their baby at night allows them to reconnect and make up for missed touch time during the day. As a nighttime perk, the relaxing hormones that are produced in response to baby nursing relax a mother and help her wind down from the tension of a busy day's work. (See

5. Babies thrive better

Over the past thirty years of observing sleepsharing families in our pediatric practice, we have noticed one medical benefit that stands out; these babies thrive . "Thriving" means not only getting bigger, but also growing to your full potential, emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Perhaps it's the extra touch that stimulates development, or perhaps the extra feedings (yes, sleepsharing infants breastfeed more often than solo sleepers).

6. Parents and infants become more connected

Remember that becoming connected is the basis of parenting, and one of your early goals of parenting. In our office, we keep a file entitled "Kids Who Turned Out Well, What Their Parents Did." We have noticed that infants who sleep with their parents (some or all of the time during those early formative years) not only thrive better, but infants and parents are more connected.

7. Reduces the risk of SIDS

New research is showing what parents the world over have long suspected: infants who sleep safely nestled next to parents are less likely to succumb to the tragedy of SIDS. Yet, because SIDS is so rare (.5 to 1 case per 1,000 infants), this worry should not be a reason to sleep with your baby. (For in depth information on the science of sleepsharing and the experiments showing how sleep benefits a baby's nighttime physiology. (See SIDS)

Co-sleeping does not always work and some parents simply do not want to sleep with their baby. Sleepsharing is an optional attachment tool. You are not bad parents if you don't sleep with your baby. Try it. If it's working and you enjoy it, continue. If not, try other sleeping arrangements (an alternative is the sidecar arrangement: place a crib or co-sleeper adjacent to your bed).



New parents often worry that their child will get so used to sleeping with them that he may never want to leave their bed. Yes, if you're used to sleeping first-class, you are reluctant to be downgraded. Like weaning from the breast, infants do wean from your bed (usually sometime around two years of age). Keep in mind that sleepsharing may be the arrangement that is designed for the safety and security of babies. The time in your arms, at your breast, and in your bed is a very short time in the total life of your child, yet the memories of love and availability last a lifetime.



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Jamie - posted on 10/12/2009

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It's wonderful! It lowers SIDS, is great for breastfeeding, is great for their little self-esteem too. You just have to make sure you do it safely :)



Here is some great info from http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T071000...











CO-SLEEPING: YES, NO, SOMETIMES?

Dr. Bill's simple definition of co-sleeping: Mother and baby sleeping within arm's reach of one another. There's been so much confusion lately in the media about what co-sleeping means that I decided to come up with a simple accurate definition. As you will learn from the information below, the closer that mother and baby can sleep together the healthier it is for both of them.

Our Co-sleeping Experiences

Our Experiments

Co-sleeping Research

Stories From Co-Sleeping Parents

7 Benefits of Co-sleeping: Medical and Developmental

Arm's Reach® Co-Sleeper® Bassinet

Co-Sleeping and SIDS

Co-sleeping Safety

Sleep Safety





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OUR CO-SLEEPING EXPERIENCES

Our first three babies were easy sleepers. We felt no need or desire to have them share our bed. Besides, I was a new member of the medical profession whose partyline was that sleeping with babies was weird and even dangerous. Then along came our fourth child, Hayden, born in 1978, whose birth changed our lives and our attitudes about sleep. Were it not for Hayden, many of our books might never have been written. Hayden hated her crib. Finally one night, out of sheer exhaustion my wife, Martha, brought Hayden into our bed. From that night on we all slept better. We slept happily together—so happily that we did it for four years, until the next baby was born!



Soon after we ventured into this "daring" sleeping arrangement, I consulted baby books for advice. Big mistake! They all preached the same old tired theme: Don't take your baby into your bed. Martha said, "I don't care what the books say, I'm tired and I need some sleep!" We initially had to get over all those worries and warnings about manipulation and terminal nighttime dependency. You're probably familiar with the long litany of "you'll-be-sorry" reasons. Well, we are not sorry; we're happy. Hayden opened up a new whole wonderful nighttime world for us that we now want to share with you.



Sleeping with Hayden opened our hearts and minds to the fact that there are many nighttime parenting styles, and parents need to be sensible and use whatever arrangement gets all family members the best night's sleep. Over the next sixteen years we slept with four more of our babies (one at a time). While it's nice to now have the bed to ourselves, we have these special nighttime connection memories.



Not an unusual custom

At first we thought we were doing something unusual, but we soon discovered that many other parents slept with their babies, too. They just don't tell their doctors or in-laws about it. In social settings, when the subject of sleep came up, we admitted that we slept with our babies. Other parents would secretly "confess" that they did, too. Why should parents have to be so hush-hush about this nighttime parenting practice and made to feel they are doing something strange? Most parents throughout the world sleep with their infants. Why is this beautiful custom taboo in our society? How could a culture be so educated in other things, yet be so misguided in parenting styles?

What to call it

Sleeping with your baby has various labels: The earthy term "family bed," while appealing to many, is a turn-off to parents who imagine a pile of kids squeezed into a small bed with dad and the family dog perched precariously on the mattress edge. "Co-sleeping" sounds more like what adults do. "Bed-sharing" is the term frequently used in medical writings. I prefer the term "sleep-sharing" because, as you will learn, a baby shares more than just bed space. An infant and mother sleeping side by side share lots of interactions that are safe and healthy.

A mindset more than a place to sleep

Sharing sleep involves more than a decision about where your baby sleeps. It is a mindset, one in which parents are flexible enough to shift nighttime parenting styles as circumstances change. Every family goes through nocturnal juggling acts at different stages of children's development. Sharing sleep reflects an attitude of acceptance of your baby as a little person with big needs. Your infant trusts that you, his parents, will continually be available during the night, as you are during the day. Sharing sleep in our culture also requires that you trust your intuition about parenting your individual baby instead of unquestionably accepting the norms of American society. Accepting and respecting your baby's needs can help you recognize that you are not spoiling your baby or letting him manipulate you when you welcome him into your bed.

What I noticed

In the early years of sleeping with our babies, I watched the sleep-sharing pair nestled next to me. I truly began to believe that a special connection occurs between the sleep-sharing pair that has to be good for baby. Was it brain waves, motion, or just something mysterious in the air that occurs between two people during nighttime touch? I couldn't help feeling there was something good and healthful about this arrangement. Specifically, I noticed these special connections:

Martha and baby naturally slept on their sides, belly-to-belly facing each other. Even if they started out at a distance, baby would naturally gravitate toward Martha, their heads facing each other, sort of a breath away. Most of the sleep-sharing mothers I have interviewed spend most of their night naturally sleeping on their backs or sides (as do their babies), positions that give mother and baby easier access to each other for breastfeeding. Other researchers have recently reported the prevalence of the face-to-face position during sleep-sharing (Mosko and McKenna 1994). (Scientific references listed at end of co-sleeping section).

When I noticed this face-to-face, almost nose-to-nose position, I wondered if the respiratory gasses from mother's nose might affect baby's breathing, and there is some experimental evidence to support this, (See —they take a deep breath.

Could there be sensors in a baby's nose that detect mother's breath, so that she is acting like a pacemaker or breathing stimulus? Researchers have discovered that the lining of the nose is rich in receptors that may affect breathing, though their exact function is unknown. (Widdicombe, 81). Perhaps mother's breath and/or smell stimulates some of these receptors, and thus affects baby's breathing. One of the main gases in an exhaled breath is carbon dioxide, which acts as a respiratory stimulant. Researchers have recently measured the exhaled air coming from a mother's nose while sleeping with her baby. They confirmed this logical suspicion that the closer baby is to mother's nose, the higher is the carbon dioxide concentration of the exhaled air, and the concentration of carbon dioxide between the face-to-face pair is possibly just the right amount to stimulate breathing (Mosko 1994).

As I watched the sleeping pair, I was intrigued by the harmony in their breathing. When Martha took a deep breath, baby took a deep breath. When I draped our tiny babies skin-to-skin over my chest, (a touch I dubbed "the warm fuzzy") , I noticed their breathing would synchronize with the rise and fall of my chest.

The sleep-sharing pair is often, but not always, in sleep harmony with each other. Martha would often enter a state of light sleep a few seconds before our babies did. They would gravitate toward one another, and Martha, by some internal sensor, would turn toward baby and nurse or touch her, and the pair would peacefully drift back to sleep, often without either member awakening. Also, there seemed to be occasional simultaneous arousal. When Martha or the baby would stir the other would also move. After spending hours watching these sleeping beauties, I was certain that each member of the sleep-sharing pair affects the sleep patterns of the other, yet I could only speculate how. Perhaps these mutual arousals allow mother and baby to "practice" waking up in response to a life-threatening event. (If SIDS is a defect in arousability from sleep, perhaps this practice would help baby's sleep arousability mature.)

Then there was the reach-out-and-touch-someone observation. The baby would extend an arm, touch Martha, take a deep breath and resettle.

I was amazed by how much interaction went on between Martha and our babies when they shared sleep. One would wiggle and the other would wiggle. Martha, even without awakening, would reach out and touch the baby who would move a bit in response to her touch. She would periodically semi-awaken to check on the baby, rearrange the covers, and then drift easily back to sleep. It seemed that baby and mother spent a lot of time during the night checking on the presence of each other. I did not miss the hours of sleep I gave up to study this fascinating relationship.

Our son, Dr. Jim, an avid sailor, offers a father's viewpoint on sleep- sharing sensitivity: "People often ask me how a sailor gets any sleep when ocean racing solo. While sleeping, the lone sailor puts the boat on autopilot. Because the sailor is so in tune with his boat, if the wind shifts so that something is not quite right with the boat, the sailor will wake up."



In essence, the sleep-sharing pair seemed to enjoy a mutual awareness without a mutual disturbance.



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OUR EXPERIMENTS

In 1992 we set up equipment in our bedroom to study eight-week-old Lauren's breathing while she slept in two different arrangements. One night Lauren and Martha slept together in the same bed, as they were used to doing. The next night, Lauren slept alone in our bed and Martha slept in an adjacent room. Lauren was wired (see figure) to a computer that recorded her electrocardiogram, her breathing movements, the airflow from her nose, and her blood oxygen level. The instrumentation was painless and didn't appear to disturb her sleep. Martha nursed Lauren down to sleep in both arrangements and sensitively responded to her during the nighttime as needed. (The equipment was designed to detect only Lauren's physiologic changes during sleep. The equipment did not pick up Martha's signals.) Martha nursed Lauren down to sleep in both arrangements and sensitively responded to Lauren's nighttime needs. A technician and I observed and recorded the information. The data was analyzed by computer and interpreted by a pediatric pulmonologist who was "blind" to the situation—that is, he didn't know whether the data he was analyzing came from the shared-sleeping or the solo-sleeping arrangement.



Our study revealed that Lauren breathed better when sleeping next to Martha than when sleeping alone. Her breathing and her heart rate were more regular during shared sleep, and there were fewer "dips," low points in respiration and blood oxygen from stop-breathing episodes. On the night Lauren slept with Martha, there were no dips in her blood oxygen. On the night Lauren slept alone, there were 132 dips. The results were similar in a second infant, whose parents generously allowed us into their bedroom. We studied Lauren and the other infant again at five months. As expected, the physiological differences between shared and solo sleep were less pronounced at five months than at two months.



In 1993 I was invited to present our sleep-sharing research to the 11th International Apnea of Infancy Conference, since this was the first study of sleep-sharing in the natural home environment (Sears, 1993). Certainly our studies would not stand up to scientific scrutiny, mainly because we only studied two babies. We didn't intend them to; it would be presumptuous to draw sweeping conclusions from studies in only two babies. We meant this only to be a pilot study. But we learned that with the availability of new microtechnology and in-home, nonintrusive monitoring, my belief about the protective effects of sharing sleep was a testable hypothesis. I hoped this preliminary study would stimulate other SIDS researchers to scientifically study the physiological effects of sharing sleep in a natural home environment.



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CO-SLEEPING RESEARCH

The physiological effects of sleep-sharing are finally being studied in sleep laboratories that are set up to mimic, as much as possible, the home bedroom. Over the past few years, nearly a million dollars of government research money has been devoted to sleep-sharing research. These studies have all been done on mothers and infants ranging from two to five months in age. Here are the preliminary findings based on mother-infant pairs studied in the sleep-sharing arrangement versus the solitary-sleeping arrangement (Elias 1986, McKenna 1993, Fleming 1994; Mosko 1994):



1. Sleep-sharing pairs showed more synchronous arousals than when sleeping separately. When one member of the pair stirred, coughed, or changed sleeping stages, the other member also changed, often without awakening.



2. Each member of the pair tended to often, but not always, be in the same stage of sleep for longer periods if they slept together.



3. Sleep-sharing babies spent less time in each cycle of deep sleep. Lest mothers worry they will get less deep sleep; preliminary studies showed that sleep-sharing mothers didn't get less total deep sleep.



4. Sleep-sharing infants aroused more often and spent more time breastfeeding than solitary sleepers, yet the sleep-sharing mothers did not report awakening more frequently.



5. Sleep-sharing infants tended to sleep more often on their backs or sides and less often on their tummies, a factor that could itself lower the SIDS risk.



6. A lot of mutual touch and interaction occurs between the sleep-sharers. What one does affects the nighttime behavior of the other.



Even though these studies are being conducted in sleep laboratories instead of the natural home environment, it's likely that within a few years enough mother-infant pairs will be studied to scientifically validate what insightful mothers have long known: something good and healthful occurs when mothers and babies share sleep.



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STORIES FROM CO-SLEEPING PARENTS: THE PROTECTIVE EFFECTS OF CO-SLEEPING

have selected the following quotes from my gallery of medical testimonies from my "consultants." These are professional mothers who have lots of intuition. Many are also pediatric nurses. Some of these mothers slept with their babies for fear of SIDS. These savvy women know babies.



"During the first six months of Leah's life, I noticed some dramatic differences in her sleeping when I wasn't sleeping next to her. In the morning I would often get up while she was still sleeping. Since I had the monitor on, I would hear loud and irregular breathing patterns rather than the quiet and regular breathing patterns she had when we slept together. There was a definite change in her breathing patterns after I would get out of bed. I think that I actually helped her breathe. Maybe I was her pacemaker. I also noticed that when she was five-months-old and I would get out of bed that after a while she would roll over onto her belly. She never rolled onto her belly when I slept next to her. She was always on her side or back."

"When my baby slept with me, I noticed there were times when he would stop breathing. I would wait, and wait, and wait and no breath would come. When I felt I had waited long enough, I would take a deep breath. At that very instant, so would Zach! Hearing my breathing actually stimulated his breathing impulses."

"Our newborn was on a monitor and slept in a cradle next to our bed. One night I heard her gasping. I know baby noises, and these weren't normal noises. As soon as I picked her up and put her next to me in bed, she breathed regularly. My pediatrician told me I was just a nervous mother. If her breathing didn't wake her up, it wasn't a problem. He told me it was my problem, and if I moved her out of our room I wouldn't hear her. I kept badgering pediatricians to study her and indeed they found she had apnea eighteen percent of the time. When she slept with me I noticed a difference. She breathed with me. My doctor still thought I was a nervous, crazy woman, and said she would be fine if I would just leave her alone."

"When my baby was three-months-old I went back to work part-time in the evenings. She became fussy and cried most of the time I was gone. By the time she went to sleep, she had worked herself into such a hysterical state that she cried herself to sleep. I feel that messed up her breathing. I would come home from work and put my ear down next to her crib, and I couldn't hear her breathing. Every seven or eight seconds she would take one or two gasps, and that's all I could hear. As soon as I picked her up and lay down with her on my bed, she started breathing more calmly and regularly again. She continued this panicky breathing in her crib at night for about a month. After that, I quit work and slept with her every night. That was my husband's idea. My friends told me to let her cry it out and that she had to learn to sleep by herself. The panicky breathing that I heard when she slept alone in the crib was not the sleep that I wanted her to learn."

"My baby usually sleeps with me, but sometimes he sleeps alone. When he sleeps alone he wakes up after a short while afraid. I believe that it is the afraidness that causes SIDS."

"My baby had a cold for a couple of weeks and one night she woke up in her crib gasping and struggling to breathe. Her breathing seemed obstructed, but after ten minutes she was fine. I took her to the doctor the next day, and he reassured me, 'There's never a warning sign of SIDS. There is never a precursor.' I wondered, "Is that because most babies are in cribs and no one witnesses the warning signs?"

"My baby had a breathing problem at night and seizures that were diagnosed as Sandifers Syndrome with reflux and a seizure disorder. The sleep study at one university hospital was done while baby was sleeping alone in a crib, and showed irregular breathing. I told the doctor that she normally slept with me, but he said it would make no difference and that he wanted to treat her with medication and put her on a heart monitor. She was now four months of age. I got a second opinion at another university hospital, where I asked them to do the same study while she slept with me. It showed normal results and the doctors advised me to stop the monitor and that nothing further needed to be done."

"Our baby would breathe like a choo-choo train when sleeping alone. When I would go over and touch him, he would breathe normally. When I took him into our bed, he would breathe normally."

"I don't want to sound psychic, but I know we are on the same brain wave when we sleep together. We seem to be in perfect nighttime harmony. He nurses at night and I don't even wake up. Because of this, my life is so much easier than with my first baby."

"At first I thought sleeping with your baby was nuts. Then our ten-week-old infant was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux . I realized I couldn't let him cry at night. It would be dangerous because crying brings on the reflux. So I slept with him, and he cried less. Now I'm so used to his breathing patterns that I wake up shortly before he does or when his breathing patterns change."

"Because we had two relatives who lost babies to SIDS, we monitored our first baby, and he slept with me. I recognized when his breathing rhythm changed. My husband and I would wake up seconds before the monitor went off. When I tapped and stroked him, he would start to breathe again."

"With my first baby, for fear of spoiling, I didn't let her sleep with me (now I know differently), but she slept within inches of me in a bassinet next to my bed. When she was three-and-a-half-months-old, I transferred her to a crib in her own room. That night I awoke in the middle of the night with a panicky feeling that I had to get to her. I found her not breathing. I gave her a shake and she started breathing. Evaluation at a children's hospital showed that she had frequent periods of apnea, from ten to fifty a night, and we hadn't even been aware of this. Then she went on a monitor, and our life revolved around the monitor. I was still afraid to sleep with her in my bed, because at that time the monitors didn't have a disconnect alarm, and I was afraid I would disconnect the monitor and wouldn't hear it if she had an apnea period. On many nights the alarm would go off every ten minutes to an hour. When she was around four-months, in desperation to get some sleep, I would sleep with her on my chest in a reclining chair. On those nights, we all slept better and there were no alarms. Even when we were sleeping separately, many times I would awaken immediately before the apnea alarm went off. I believe I had a connection to her. I felt a need to have her close to me. I think breastfeeding her and holding her a lot during the day helped give me that connection."

"Our baby has asthma, and I notice that if he sleeps in our bed his breathing is more regular and not as fast as when he sleeps alone. My husband has found he can also affect Nathaniel's breathing by pulling him close to his chest with a big "bear hug cuddle" and breathing slow and deep. This has become part of our asthma plan. Not only has it helped Nathaniel have more restful nights and require less medication, but my husband and I have more restful nights as well."

"Each of our five children slept in our bed until two-and-a-half to three- and-a-half-years-of-age, when they chose to move out. I noticed that they all slept with their faces toward mine and if I turned my face away from theirs, they'd awaken. I truly believe that babies and mothers breathe in synchrony, and when one stirs, so does the other. It always seems like I awaken with our babies, not after them. I believe this breathing connection is responsible for it."

"I slept with all six of my babies, and I think their breathing was more regular when they slept next to me. When I watched them sleep alone in the crib, their breathing seemed more irregular."

"Our sleep cycles seem to be in tune. I wake up a few seconds before she does."

"If it weren't for our daughter, we never would have considered sleep- sharing. During our childbirth classes the instructor mentioned, 'You might think about sharing sleep with your baby.' My husband and I looked at each other and said, 'That sounds liberal. No way, thank you. She will have her own bed in her own room.' One afternoon when our baby was twenty-days-old, the high winds in our house caused the door to her bedroom to slam loudly. I thought she'd be scared, so I quickly went in to check on her. I found her gray, ashen, limp, and not breathing. I thought she was gone—I'm a paramedic. I grabbed her and she started breathing. After studying several nights of monitor tracings, the doctors concluded that 'she had numerous episodes of periodic breathing like a 34 or 35-week premature baby.'

"Sort of on the sly, my doctor said, 'You might consider sleeping with her and nursing her at night while lying next to her. All our babies slept in our bed until they were twelve-to fifteen-months-old, and I've heard that a mother's presence regulates a baby's heartbeat.' I then said to my husband, 'Between my childbirth instructor, my La Leche League leader, Dr. Sears' books, and now my pediatrician, maybe we should rethink this matter."

"She slept in our bed the next ten months, monitored only by me. To my knowledge, she never had any more breathing difficulties. When people would say, 'Oh, she sleeps with you?' and give me a put-down look, I would simply say, 'Our doctor says it's best because it helps her regulate her breathing.' In my college classes, I get so angry when people equate sleeping with your baby with 'doing something different.' It's natural, like a mother holding a baby. I wish they wouldn't try to make it such a liberal thing. I can't express to you how strongly I feel it made a difference. Our next baby will sleep with us."

From the preceding evidence it seems that separate sleeping is not only unnatural, but may even be dangerous for some babies. Put new research findings together with the intuition of wise parents and you wonder whether sleep-sharing could not only make a psychological difference but also a physiological difference to babies. Each year more and more studies are confirming what savvy parents have long suspected: sharing sleep is not only safe, but also healthy for their babies. Thus, I leave it to parents to consider the following: If there were fewer cribs, would there be fewer crib deaths?



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7 BENEFITS OF CO-SLEEPING: MEDICAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL



There is no right or wrong place for baby to sleep. Wherever all family members sleep the best is the right arrangement for you. Remember, over half the world's population sleeps with their baby, and more and more parents in the U.S. are sharing sleep with their little one. Here's why:



1. Babies sleep better

Sleepsharing babies usually go to sleep and stay asleep better. Being parented to sleep at the breast of mother or in the arms of father creates a healthy go-to-sleep attitude. Baby learns that going to sleep is a pleasant state to enter (one of our goals of nighttime parenting).

Babies stay asleep better. Put yourself in the sleep pattern of baby. As baby passes from deep sleep into light sleep, he enters a vulnerable period for nightwaking, a transition state that may occur as often as every hour and from which it is difficult for baby to resettle on his own into a deep sleep. You are a familiar attachment person whom baby can touch, smell, and hear. Your presence conveys an "It's OK to go back to sleep" message. Feeling no worry, baby peacefully drifts through this vulnerable period of nightwaking and reenters deep sleep. If baby does awaken, she is sometimes able to resettle herself because you are right there. A familiar touch, perhaps a few minutes' feed, and you comfort baby back into deep sleep without either member of the sleep-sharing pair fully awakening.



Many babies need help going back to sleep because of a developmental quirk called object or person permanence. When something or someone is out of sight, it is out of mind. Most babies less than a year old do not have the ability to think of mother as existing somewhere else. When babies awaken alone in a crib, they become frightened and often unable to resettle back into deep sleep. Because of this separation anxiety, they learn that sleep is a fearful state to remain in (not one of our goals of nighttime parenting).



2. Mothers sleep better

Many mothers and infants are able to achieve nighttime harmony: babies and mothers get their sleep cycles in sync with one another.

Martha notes: "I would automatically awaken seconds before my baby would. When the baby started to squirm, I would lay on a comforting hand and she would drift back to sleep. Sometimes I did this automatically and I didn't even wake up."

Contrast sleepsharing with the crib and nursery scene. The separate sleeper awakens – alone and behind bars. He is out of touch. He first squirms and whimpers. Still out of touch. Separation anxiety sets in, baby becomes scared, and the cry escalates into an all-out wail or plea for help. This piercing cry awakens even the most long distance mother, who jumps up (sometimes out of the state of deep sleep, which is what leads to most nighttime exhaustion), and staggers reluctantly down the hall. By the time mother reaches the baby, baby is wide awake and upset, mother is wide awake and upset, and the comforting that follows becomes a reluctant duty rather than an automatic nurturant response. It takes longer to resettle an upset solo sleeper than it does a half-asleep baby who is sleeping within arm's reach of mother. Once baby does fall asleep, mother is still wide-awake and too upset to resettle easily. If, however, the baby is sleeping next to mother and they have their sleep cycles in sync, most mothers and babies can quickly resettle without either member of the sleepsharing pair fully awakening. Being awakened suddenly and completely from a state of deep sleep to attend to a hungry or frightened baby is what leads to sleep-deprived parents and fearful babies.



3. Breastfeeding is easier

Most veteran breastfeeding mothers have, for survival, learned that sharing sleep makes breastfeeding easier. Breastfeeding mothers find it easier than bottlefeeding mothers to get their sleep cycles in sync with their babies. They often wake up just before the babies awaken for a feeding. By being there and anticipating the feeding, mother can breastfeed baby back to a deep sleep before baby (and often mother) fully awakens.

A mother who had achieved nighttime-nursing harmony with her baby shared the following story with us:

"About thirty seconds before my baby wakes up for a feeding, my sleep seems to lighten and I almost wake up. By being able to anticipate his feeding, I usually can start breastfeeding him just as he begins to squirm and reach for the nipple. Getting him to suck immediately keeps him from fully waking up, and then we both drift back into a deep sleep right after feeding."



Mothers who experience daytime breastfeeding difficulties report that breastfeeding becomes easier when they sleep next to their babies at night and lie down with baby and nap nurse during the day. We believe baby senses that mother is more relaxed, and her milk-producing hormones work better when she is relaxed or sleeping.



4. It's contemporary parenting

Sleepsharing is even more relevant in today's busy lifestyles. As more and more mothers, out of necessity, are separated from their baby during the day, sleeping with their baby at night allows them to reconnect and make up for missed touch time during the day. As a nighttime perk, the relaxing hormones that are produced in response to baby nursing relax a mother and help her wind down from the tension of a busy day's work. (See

5. Babies thrive better

Over the past thirty years of observing sleepsharing families in our pediatric practice, we have noticed one medical benefit that stands out; these babies thrive . "Thriving" means not only getting bigger, but also growing to your full potential, emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Perhaps it's the extra touch that stimulates development, or perhaps the extra feedings (yes, sleepsharing infants breastfeed more often than solo sleepers).

6. Parents and infants become more connected

Remember that becoming connected is the basis of parenting, and one of your early goals of parenting. In our office, we keep a file entitled "Kids Who Turned Out Well, What Their Parents Did." We have noticed that infants who sleep with their parents (some or all of the time during those early formative years) not only thrive better, but infants and parents are more connected.

7. Reduces the risk of SIDS

New research is showing what parents the world over have long suspected: infants who sleep safely nestled next to parents are less likely to succumb to the tragedy of SIDS. Yet, because SIDS is so rare (.5 to 1 case per 1,000 infants), this worry should not be a reason to sleep with your baby. (For in depth information on the science of sleepsharing and the experiments showing how sleep benefits a baby's nighttime physiology. (See SIDS)

Co-sleeping does not always work and some parents simply do not want to sleep with their baby. Sleepsharing is an optional attachment tool. You are not bad parents if you don't sleep with your baby. Try it. If it's working and you enjoy it, continue. If not, try other sleeping arrangements (an alternative is the sidecar arrangement: place a crib or co-sleeper adjacent to your bed).



New parents often worry that their child will get so used to sleeping with them that he may never want to leave their bed. Yes, if you're used to sleeping first-class, you are reluctant to be downgraded. Like weaning from the breast, infants do wean from your bed (usually sometime around two years of age). Keep in mind that sleepsharing may be the arrangement that is designed for the safety and security of babies. The time in your arms, at your breast, and in your bed is a very short time in the total life of your child, yet the memories of love and availability last a lifetime.



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Jamie - posted on 10/12/2009

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It's wonderful! It lowers SIDS, is great for breastfeeding, is great for their little self-esteem too. You just have to make sure you do it safely :)



Here is some great info from http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T071000...













OUR CO-SLEEPING EXPERIENCES

Our first three babies were easy sleepers. We felt no need or desire to have them share our bed. Besides, I was a new member of the medical profession whose partyline was that sleeping with babies was weird and even dangerous. Then along came our fourth child, Hayden, born in 1978, whose birth changed our lives and our attitudes about sleep. Were it not for Hayden, many of our books might never have been written. Hayden hated her crib. Finally one night, out of sheer exhaustion my wife, Martha, brought Hayden into our bed. From that night on we all slept better. We slept happily together—so happily that we did it for four years, until the next baby was born!



Soon after we ventured into this "daring" sleeping arrangement, I consulted baby books for advice. Big mistake! They all preached the same old tired theme: Don't take your baby into your bed. Martha said, "I don't care what the books say, I'm tired and I need some sleep!" We initially had to get over all those worries and warnings about manipulation and terminal nighttime dependency. You're probably familiar with the long litany of "you'll-be-sorry" reasons. Well, we are not sorry; we're happy. Hayden opened up a new whole wonderful nighttime world for us that we now want to share with you.



Sleeping with Hayden opened our hearts and minds to the fact that there are many nighttime parenting styles, and parents need to be sensible and use whatever arrangement gets all family members the best night's sleep. Over the next sixteen years we slept with four more of our babies (one at a time). While it's nice to now have the bed to ourselves, we have these special nighttime connection memories.



Not an unusual custom

At first we thought we were doing something unusual, but we soon discovered that many other parents slept with their babies, too. They just don't tell their doctors or in-laws about it. In social settings, when the subject of sleep came up, we admitted that we slept with our babies. Other parents would secretly "confess" that they did, too. Why should parents have to be so hush-hush about this nighttime parenting practice and made to feel they are doing something strange? Most parents throughout the world sleep with their infants. Why is this beautiful custom taboo in our society? How could a culture be so educated in other things, yet be so misguided in parenting styles?

What to call it

Sleeping with your baby has various labels: The earthy term "family bed," while appealing to many, is a turn-off to parents who imagine a pile of kids squeezed into a small bed with dad and the family dog perched precariously on the mattress edge. "Co-sleeping" sounds more like what adults do. "Bed-sharing" is the term frequently used in medical writings. I prefer the term "sleep-sharing" because, as you will learn, a baby shares more than just bed space. An infant and mother sleeping side by side share lots of interactions that are safe and healthy.

A mindset more than a place to sleep

Sharing sleep involves more than a decision about where your baby sleeps. It is a mindset, one in which parents are flexible enough to shift nighttime parenting styles as circumstances change. Every family goes through nocturnal juggling acts at different stages of children's development. Sharing sleep reflects an attitude of acceptance of your baby as a little person with big needs. Your infant trusts that you, his parents, will continually be available during the night, as you are during the day. Sharing sleep in our culture also requires that you trust your intuition about parenting your individual baby instead of unquestionably accepting the norms of American society. Accepting and respecting your baby's needs can help you recognize that you are not spoiling your baby or letting him manipulate you when you welcome him into your bed.

What I noticed

In the early years of sleeping with our babies, I watched the sleep-sharing pair nestled next to me. I truly began to believe that a special connection occurs between the sleep-sharing pair that has to be good for baby. Was it brain waves, motion, or just something mysterious in the air that occurs between two people during nighttime touch? I couldn't help feeling there was something good and healthful about this arrangement. Specifically, I noticed these special connections:

Martha and baby naturally slept on their sides, belly-to-belly facing each other. Even if they started out at a distance, baby would naturally gravitate toward Martha, their heads facing each other, sort of a breath away. Most of the sleep-sharing mothers I have interviewed spend most of their night naturally sleeping on their backs or sides (as do their babies), positions that give mother and baby easier access to each other for breastfeeding. Other researchers have recently reported the prevalence of the face-to-face position during sleep-sharing (Mosko and McKenna 1994). (Scientific references listed at end of co-sleeping section).

When I noticed this face-to-face, almost nose-to-nose position, I wondered if the respiratory gasses from mother's nose might affect baby's breathing, and there is some experimental evidence to support this, (See —they take a deep breath.

Could there be sensors in a baby's nose that detect mother's breath, so that she is acting like a pacemaker or breathing stimulus? Researchers have discovered that the lining of the nose is rich in receptors that may affect breathing, though their exact function is unknown. (Widdicombe, 81). Perhaps mother's breath and/or smell stimulates some of these receptors, and thus affects baby's breathing. One of the main gases in an exhaled breath is carbon dioxide, which acts as a respiratory stimulant. Researchers have recently measured the exhaled air coming from a mother's nose while sleeping with her baby. They confirmed this logical suspicion that the closer baby is to mother's nose, the higher is the carbon dioxide concentration of the exhaled air, and the concentration of carbon dioxide between the face-to-face pair is possibly just the right amount to stimulate breathing (Mosko 1994).

As I watched the sleeping pair, I was intrigued by the harmony in their breathing. When Martha took a deep breath, baby took a deep breath. When I draped our tiny babies skin-to-skin over my chest, (a touch I dubbed "the warm fuzzy") , I noticed their breathing would synchronize with the rise and fall of my chest.

The sleep-sharing pair is often, but not always, in sleep harmony with each other. Martha would often enter a state of light sleep a few seconds before our babies did. They would gravitate toward one another, and Martha, by some internal sensor, would turn toward baby and nurse or touch her, and the pair would peacefully drift back to sleep, often without either member awakening. Also, there seemed to be occasional simultaneous arousal. When Martha or the baby would stir the other would also move. After spending hours watching these sleeping beauties, I was certain that each member of the sleep-sharing pair affects the sleep patterns of the other, yet I could only speculate how. Perhaps these mutual arousals allow mother and baby to "practice" waking up in response to a life-threatening event. (If SIDS is a defect in arousability from sleep, perhaps this practice would help baby's sleep arousability mature.)

Then there was the reach-out-and-touch-someone observation. The baby would extend an arm, touch Martha, take a deep breath and resettle.

I was amazed by how much interaction went on between Martha and our babies when they shared sleep. One would wiggle and the other would wiggle. Martha, even without awakening, would reach out and touch the baby who would move a bit in response to her touch. She would periodically semi-awaken to check on the baby, rearrange the covers, and then drift easily back to sleep. It seemed that baby and mother spent a lot of time during the night checking on the presence of each other. I did not miss the hours of sleep I gave up to study this fascinating relationship.

Our son, Dr. Jim, an avid sailor, offers a father's viewpoint on sleep- sharing sensitivity: "People often ask me how a sailor gets any sleep when ocean racing solo. While sleeping, the lone sailor puts the boat on autopilot. Because the sailor is so in tune with his boat, if the wind shifts so that something is not quite right with the boat, the sailor will wake up."



In essence, the sleep-sharing pair seemed to enjoy a mutual awareness without a mutual disturbance.



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OUR EXPERIMENTS

In 1992 we set up equipment in our bedroom to study eight-week-old Lauren's breathing while she slept in two different arrangements. One night Lauren and Martha slept together in the same bed, as they were used to doing. The next night, Lauren slept alone in our bed and Martha slept in an adjacent room. Lauren was wired (see figure) to a computer that recorded her electrocardiogram, her breathing movements, the airflow from her nose, and her blood oxygen level. The instrumentation was painless and didn't appear to disturb her sleep. Martha nursed Lauren down to sleep in both arrangements and sensitively responded to her during the nighttime as needed. (The equipment was designed to detect only Lauren's physiologic changes during sleep. The equipment did not pick up Martha's signals.) Martha nursed Lauren down to sleep in both arrangements and sensitively responded to Lauren's nighttime needs. A technician and I observed and recorded the information. The data was analyzed by computer and interpreted by a pediatric pulmonologist who was "blind" to the situation—that is, he didn't know whether the data he was analyzing came from the shared-sleeping or the solo-sleeping arrangement.



Our study revealed that Lauren breathed better when sleeping next to Martha than when sleeping alone. Her breathing and her heart rate were more regular during shared sleep, and there were fewer "dips," low points in respiration and blood oxygen from stop-breathing episodes. On the night Lauren slept with Martha, there were no dips in her blood oxygen. On the night Lauren slept alone, there were 132 dips. The results were similar in a second infant, whose parents generously allowed us into their bedroom. We studied Lauren and the other infant again at five months. As expected, the physiological differences between shared and solo sleep were less pronounced at five months than at two months.



In 1993 I was invited to present our sleep-sharing research to the 11th International Apnea of Infancy Conference, since this was the first study of sleep-sharing in the natural home environment (Sears, 1993). Certainly our studies would not stand up to scientific scrutiny, mainly because we only studied two babies. We didn't intend them to; it would be presumptuous to draw sweeping conclusions from studies in only two babies. We meant this only to be a pilot study. But we learned that with the availability of new microtechnology and in-home, nonintrusive monitoring, my belief about the protective effects of sharing sleep was a testable hypothesis. I hoped this preliminary study would stimulate other SIDS researchers to scientifically study the physiological effects of sharing sleep in a natural home environment.



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CO-SLEEPING RESEARCH

The physiological effects of sleep-sharing are finally being studied in sleep laboratories that are set up to mimic, as much as possible, the home bedroom. Over the past few years, nearly a million dollars of government research money has been devoted to sleep-sharing research. These studies have all been done on mothers and infants ranging from two to five months in age. Here are the preliminary findings based on mother-infant pairs studied in the sleep-sharing arrangement versus the solitary-sleeping arrangement (Elias 1986, McKenna 1993, Fleming 1994; Mosko 1994):



1. Sleep-sharing pairs showed more synchronous arousals than when sleeping separately. When one member of the pair stirred, coughed, or changed sleeping stages, the other member also changed, often without awakening.



2. Each member of the pair tended to often, but not always, be in the same stage of sleep for longer periods if they slept together.



3. Sleep-sharing babies spent less time in each cycle of deep sleep. Lest mothers worry they will get less deep sleep; preliminary studies showed that sleep-sharing mothers didn't get less total deep sleep.



4. Sleep-sharing infants aroused more often and spent more time breastfeeding than solitary sleepers, yet the sleep-sharing mothers did not report awakening more frequently.



5. Sleep-sharing infants tended to sleep more often on their backs or sides and less often on their tummies, a factor that could itself lower the SIDS risk.



6. A lot of mutual touch and interaction occurs between the sleep-sharers. What one does affects the nighttime behavior of the other.



Even though these studies are being conducted in sleep laboratories instead of the natural home environment, it's likely that within a few years enough mother-infant pairs will be studied to scientifically validate what insightful mothers have long known: something good and healthful occurs when mothers and babies share sleep.



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STORIES FROM CO-SLEEPING PARENTS: THE PROTECTIVE EFFECTS OF CO-SLEEPING

have selected the following quotes from my gallery of medical testimonies from my "consultants." These are professional mothers who have lots of intuition. Many are also pediatric nurses. Some of these mothers slept with their babies for fear of SIDS. These savvy women know babies.



"During the first six months of Leah's life, I noticed some dramatic differences in her sleeping when I wasn't sleeping next to her. In the morning I would often get up while she was still sleeping. Since I had the monitor on, I would hear loud and irregular breathing patterns rather than the quiet and regular breathing patterns she had when we slept together. There was a definite change in her breathing patterns after I would get out of bed. I think that I actually helped her breathe. Maybe I was her pacemaker. I also noticed that when she was five-months-old and I would get out of bed that after a while she would roll over onto her belly. She never rolled onto her belly when I slept next to her. She was always on her side or back."

"When my baby slept with me, I noticed there were times when he would stop breathing. I would wait, and wait, and wait and no breath would come. When I felt I had waited long enough, I would take a deep breath. At that very instant, so would Zach! Hearing my breathing actually stimulated his breathing impulses."

"Our newborn was on a monitor and slept in a cradle next to our bed. One night I heard her gasping. I know baby noises, and these weren't normal noises. As soon as I picked her up and put her next to me in bed, she breathed regularly. My pediatrician told me I was just a nervous mother. If her breathing didn't wake her up, it wasn't a problem. He told me it was my problem, and if I moved her out of our room I wouldn't hear her. I kept badgering pediatricians to study her and indeed they found she had apnea eighteen percent of the time. When she slept with me I noticed a difference. She breathed with me. My doctor still thought I was a nervous, crazy woman, and said she would be fine if I would just leave her alone."

"When my baby was three-months-old I went back to work part-time in the evenings. She became fussy and cried most of the time I was gone. By the time she went to sleep, she had worked herself into such a hysterical state that she cried herself to sleep. I feel that messed up her breathing. I would come home from work and put my ear down next to her crib, and I couldn't hear her breathing. Every seven or eight seconds she would take one or two gasps, and that's all I could hear. As soon as I picked her up and lay down with her on my bed, she started breathing more calmly and regularly again. She continued this panicky breathing in her crib at night for about a month. After that, I quit work and slept with her every night. That was my husband's idea. My friends told me to let her cry it out and that she had to learn to sleep by herself. The panicky breathing that I heard when she slept alone in the crib was not the sleep that I wanted her to learn."

"My baby usually sleeps with me, but sometimes he sleeps alone. When he sleeps alone he wakes up after a short while afraid. I believe that it is the afraidness that causes SIDS."

"My baby had a cold for a couple of weeks and one night she woke up in her crib gasping and struggling to breathe. Her breathing seemed obstructed, but after ten minutes she was fine. I took her to the doctor the next day, and he reassured me, 'There's never a warning sign of SIDS. There is never a precursor.' I wondered, "Is that because most babies are in cribs and no one witnesses the warning signs?"

"My baby had a breathing problem at night and seizures that were diagnosed as Sandifers Syndrome with reflux and a seizure disorder. The sleep study at one university hospital was done while baby was sleeping alone in a crib, and showed irregular breathing. I told the doctor that she normally slept with me, but he said it would make no difference and that he wanted to treat her with medication and put her on a heart monitor. She was now four months of age. I got a second opinion at another university hospital, where I asked them to do the same study while she slept with me. It showed normal results and the doctors advised me to stop the monitor and that nothing further needed to be done."

"Our baby would breathe like a choo-choo train when sleeping alone. When I would go over and touch him, he would breathe normally. When I took him into our bed, he would breathe normally."

"I don't want to sound psychic, but I know we are on the same brain wave when we sleep together. We seem to be in perfect nighttime harmony. He nurses at night and I don't even wake up. Because of this, my life is so much easier than with my first baby."

"At first I thought sleeping with your baby was nuts. Then our ten-week-old infant was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux . I realized I couldn't let him cry at night. It would be dangerous because crying brings on the reflux. So I slept with him, and he cried less. Now I'm so used to his breathing patterns that I wake up shortly before he does or when his breathing patterns change."

"Because we had two relatives who lost babies to SIDS, we monitored our first baby, and he slept with me. I recognized when his breathing rhythm changed. My husband and I would wake up seconds before the monitor went off. When I tapped and stroked him, he would start to breathe again."

"With my first baby, for fear of spoiling, I didn't let her sleep with me (now I know differently), but she slept within inches of me in a bassinet next to my bed. When she was three-and-a-half-months-old, I transferred her to a crib in her own room. That night I awoke in the middle of the night with a panicky feeling that I had to get to her. I found her not breathing. I gave her a shake and she started breathing. Evaluation at a children's hospital showed that she had frequent periods of apnea, from ten to fifty a night, and we hadn't even been aware of this. Then she went on a monitor, and our life revolved around the monitor. I was still afraid to sleep with her in my bed, because at that time the monitors didn't have a disconnect alarm, and I was afraid I would disconnect the monitor and wouldn't hear it if she had an apnea period. On many nights the alarm would go off every ten minutes to an hour. When she was around four-months, in desperation to get some sleep, I would sleep with her on my chest in a reclining chair. On those nights, we all slept better and there were no alarms. Even when we were sleeping separately, many times I would awaken immediately before the apnea alarm went off. I believe I had a connection to her. I felt a need to have her close to me. I think breastfeeding her and holding her a lot during the day helped give me that connection."

"Our baby has asthma, and I notice that if he sleeps in our bed his breathing is more regular and not as fast as when he sleeps alone. My husband has found he can also affect Nathaniel's breathing by pulling him close to his chest with a big "bear hug cuddle" and breathing slow and deep. This has become part of our asthma plan. Not only has it helped Nathaniel have more restful nights and require less medication, but my husband and I have more restful nights as well."

"Each of our five children slept in our bed until two-and-a-half to three- and-a-half-years-of-age, when they chose to move out. I noticed that they all slept with their faces toward mine and if I turned my face away from theirs, they'd awaken. I truly believe that babies and mothers breathe in synchrony, and when one stirs, so does the other. It always seems like I awaken with our babies, not after them. I believe this breathing connection is responsible for it."

"I slept with all six of my babies, and I think their breathing was more regular when they slept next to me. When I watched them sleep alone in the crib, their breathing seemed more irregular."

"Our sleep cycles seem to be in tune. I wake up a few seconds before she does."

"If it weren't for our daughter, we never would have considered sleep- sharing. During our childbirth classes the instructor mentioned, 'You might think about sharing sleep with your baby.' My husband and I looked at each other and said, 'That sounds liberal. No way, thank you. She will have her own bed in her own room.' One afternoon when our baby was twenty-days-old, the high winds in our house caused the door to her bedroom to slam loudly. I thought she'd be scared, so I quickly went in to check on her. I found her gray, ashen, limp, and not breathing. I thought she was gone—I'm a paramedic. I grabbed her and she started breathing. After studying several nights of monitor tracings, the doctors concluded that 'she had numerous episodes of periodic breathing like a 34 or 35-week premature baby.'

"Sort of on the sly, my doctor said, 'You might consider sleeping with her and nursing her at night while lying next to her. All our babies slept in our bed until they were twelve-to fifteen-months-old, and I've heard that a mother's presence regulates a baby's heartbeat.' I then said to my husband, 'Between my childbirth instructor, my La Leche League leader, Dr. Sears' books, and now my pediatrician, maybe we should rethink this matter."

"She slept in our bed the next ten months, monitored only by me. To my knowledge, she never had any more breathing difficulties. When people would say, 'Oh, she sleeps with you?' and give me a put-down look, I would simply say, 'Our doctor says it's best because it helps her regulate her breathing.' In my college classes, I get so angry when people equate sleeping with your baby with 'doing something different.' It's natural, like a mother holding a baby. I wish they wouldn't try to make it such a liberal thing. I can't express to you how strongly I feel it made a difference. Our next baby will sleep with us."

From the preceding evidence it seems that separate sleeping is not only unnatural, but may even be dangerous for some babies. Put new research findings together with the intuition of wise parents and you wonder whether sleep-sharing could not only make a psychological difference but also a physiological difference to babies. Each year more and more studies are confirming what savvy parents have long suspected: sharing sleep is not only safe, but also healthy for their babies. Thus, I leave it to parents to consider the following: If there were fewer cribs, would there be fewer crib deaths?



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7 BENEFITS OF CO-SLEEPING: MEDICAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL



There is no right or wrong place for baby to sleep. Wherever all family members sleep the best is the right arrangement for you. Remember, over half the world's population sleeps with their baby, and more and more parents in the U.S. are sharing sleep with their little one. Here's why:



1. Babies sleep better

Sleepsharing babies usually go to sleep and stay asleep better. Being parented to sleep at the breast of mother or in the arms of father creates a healthy go-to-sleep attitude. Baby learns that going to sleep is a pleasant state to enter (one of our goals of nighttime parenting).

Babies stay asleep better. Put yourself in the sleep pattern of baby. As baby passes from deep sleep into light sleep, he enters a vulnerable period for nightwaking, a transition state that may occur as often as every hour and from which it is difficult for baby to resettle on his own into a deep sleep. You are a familiar attachment person whom baby can touch, smell, and hear. Your presence conveys an "It's OK to go back to sleep" message. Feeling no worry, baby peacefully drifts through this vulnerable period of nightwaking and reenters deep sleep. If baby does awaken, she is sometimes able to resettle herself because you are right there. A familiar touch, perhaps a few minutes' feed, and you comfort baby back into deep sleep without either member of the sleep-sharing pair fully awakening.



Many babies need help going back to sleep because of a developmental quirk called object or person permanence. When something or someone is out of sight, it is out of mind. Most babies less than a year old do not have the ability to think of mother as existing somewhere else. When babies awaken alone in a crib, they become frightened and often unable to resettle back into deep sleep. Because of this separation anxiety, they learn that sleep is a fearful state to remain in (not one of our goals of nighttime parenting).



2. Mothers sleep better

Many mothers and infants are able to achieve nighttime harmony: babies and mothers get their sleep cycles in sync with one another.

Martha notes: "I would automatically awaken seconds before my baby would. When the baby started to squirm, I would lay on a comforting hand and she would drift back to sleep. Sometimes I did this automatically and I didn't even wake up."

Contrast sleepsharing with the crib and nursery scene. The separate sleeper awakens – alone and behind bars. He is out of touch. He first squirms and whimpers. Still out of touch. Separation anxiety sets in, baby becomes scared, and the cry escalates into an all-out wail or plea for help. This piercing cry awakens even the most long distance mother, who jumps up (sometimes out of the state of deep sleep, which is what leads to most nighttime exhaustion), and staggers reluctantly down the hall. By the time mother reaches the baby, baby is wide awake and upset, mother is wide awake and upset, and the comforting that follows becomes a reluctant duty rather than an automatic nurturant response. It takes longer to resettle an upset solo sleeper than it does a half-asleep baby who is sleeping within arm's reach of mother. Once baby does fall asleep, mother is still wide-awake and too upset to resettle easily. If, however, the baby is sleeping next to mother and they have their sleep cycles in sync, most mothers and babies can quickly resettle without either member of the sleepsharing pair fully awakening. Being awakened suddenly and completely from a state of deep sleep to attend to a hungry or frightened baby is what leads to sleep-deprived parents and fearful babies.



3. Breastfeeding is easier

Most veteran breastfeeding mothers have, for survival, learned that sharing sleep makes breastfeeding easier. Breastfeeding mothers find it easier than bottlefeeding mothers to get their sleep cycles in sync with their babies. They often wake up just before the babies awaken for a feeding. By being there and anticipating the feeding, mother can breastfeed baby back to a deep sleep before baby (and often mother) fully awakens.

A mother who had achieved nighttime-nursing harmony with her baby shared the following story with us:

"About thirty seconds before my baby wakes up for a feeding, my sleep seems to lighten and I almost wake up. By being able to anticipate his feeding, I usually can start breastfeeding him just as he begins to squirm and reach for the nipple. Getting him to suck immediately keeps him from fully waking up, and then we both drift back into a deep sleep right after feeding."



Mothers who experience daytime breastfeeding difficulties report that breastfeeding becomes easier when they sleep next to their babies at night and lie down with baby and nap nurse during the day. We believe baby senses that mother is more relaxed, and her milk-producing hormones work better when she is relaxed or sleeping.



4. It's contemporary parenting

Sleepsharing is even more relevant in today's busy lifestyles. As more and more mothers, out of necessity, are separated from their baby during the day, sleeping with their baby at night allows them to reconnect and make up for missed touch time during the day. As a nighttime perk, the relaxing hormones that are produced in response to baby nursing relax a mother and help her wind down from the tension of a busy day's work. (See

5. Babies thrive better

Over the past thirty years of observing sleepsharing families in our pediatric practice, we have noticed one medical benefit that stands out; these babies thrive . "Thriving" means not only getting bigger, but also growing to your full potential, emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Perhaps it's the extra touch that stimulates development, or perhaps the extra feedings (yes, sleepsharing infants breastfeed more often than solo sleepers).

6. Parents and infants become more connected

Remember that becoming connected is the basis of parenting, and one of your early goals of parenting. In our office, we keep a file entitled "Kids Who Turned Out Well, What Their Parents Did." We have noticed that infants who sleep with their parents (some or all of the time during those early formative years) not only thrive better, but infants and parents are more connected.

7. Reduces the risk of SIDS

New research is showing what parents the world over have long suspected: infants who sleep safely nestled next to parents are less likely to succumb to the tragedy of SIDS. Yet, because SIDS is so rare (.5 to 1 case per 1,000 infants), this worry should not be a reason to sleep with your baby. (For in depth information on the science of sleepsharing and the experiments showing how sleep benefits a baby's nighttime physiology. (See SIDS)

Co-sleeping does not always work and some parents simply do not want to sleep with their baby. Sleepsharing is an optional attachment tool. You are not bad parents if you don't sleep with your baby. Try it. If it's working and you enjoy it, continue. If not, try other sleeping arrangements (an alternative is the sidecar arrangement: place a crib or co-sleeper adjacent to your bed).



New parents often worry that their child will get so used to sleeping with them that he may never want to leave their bed. Yes, if you're used to sleeping first-class, you are reluctant to be downgraded. Like weaning from the breast, infants do wean from your bed (usually sometime around two years of age). Keep in mind that sleepsharing may be the arrangement that is designed for the safety and security of babies. The time in your arms, at your breast, and in your bed is a very short time in the total life of your child, yet the memories of love and availability last a lifetime.



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Rosilee - posted on 10/12/2009

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well all so good for most of you but once you haveslept with them in the bed they expect it all the time as i have found out with my daughter and she is now 13mths and goes to bed at 7pm and wakes at 2.30am every morning to come sleep with mum and dad which i love having her in bed but we have another one on the way and i am so not making that mistake again, this one is in bed and staying in bed, i used to have to stay awake with J'Dee for hours no-one told me anything

Melany - posted on 10/12/2009

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Quoting Brandy:



Quoting Melany :

I have seen a lot of kids who slept with there moms as infants and they are spoiled! Most of them didn't even start talking til they were the the age of two or older! my daughter has slept on her own since day one and slept through the night a little before she was a month old. You all say oh it's better for the baby but i think it more like its more convenient for mommy! It's not gonna hurt your baby 2 cry a little that's how they learn 2 soothe there selves and not be so dependent. It's hard hearing them cry and ur first reaction is 2 go 2 there rescue but sometime were just making them worse! We need 2 look at the big picture of things and not at just want is convenient at the time. Not sleeping with them doesnt mean that u love them any less it means u want them 2 learn be dependent and they arnt going 2 love u any less for it and u can still bond with them in other ways. if you want them near by then let them sleep in ur room in there own bed my daughter slept in my room in her bassinet til she was 5 months. This is strictly my opinion so sorry if i offended anyone!






I just wanted to let you know that I slept with my daughter most nights until she was 6 months old and she is in no way spoiled! She is very well disciplined and does what she is told at 17 months. As for the comment about them not talking until they are 2, she is already saying 2 and 3 word sentences which is actually ahead of the average speech level for her age. She is also the most independant baby I have ever met. She doesn't need up all the time, she doesn't whine and cry for attention, she uses her manners and is very well behaved. Just because you know some kids who slept in the same bed as their parents and are also spoiled, doesn't mean all bed-sharing parents spoil their kids. So just so you know, you have been misinformed and if you think that my daughter is a rare case, there are alot of other moms on this site who can confirm that I am telling the truth about bed-sharing.



 



 



I was just stating my opnion and i wasnt saying every kid will turn out that way i was just saying all the ones i have saw thats how they where so sorry for offending you. She asked for everyones and advice and i gave mine.





 

Melany - posted on 10/12/2009

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Quoting Brenda:

I have co-slept with DD since she was about 15wks old. It started out with bassinette in our room and then when she outgrew it in our bed. She has been there for quite a while and is very independent and talks very well. She started talking before the age of 2. Babies cry for a reason. So i find this very funny


I know babies cry for a reason and that is why i kno what my baby cries r  when she needs something im not saying that everytime they cry 2 ignore them im just saying not every fuss is because they need something sometime its cause they just want 2 play in the middle of the night and all the parents "I know"  (not saying everyone ) that started sleeping with there babys was for that very reason cause they didnt want 2 deal with hearing them cry and there was nothing wrongwith there baby. My sister was one of the babys who just wanted 2 play and all it took was my mom letting her cry herself 2 sleep and they never had the problem again. I also didnt say in every case they end up spoiled jus in all the ones i've seen and all of them also didnt talk till a late age.     Again im sry if u where offended by this it is ur choice on what u do it's just my opnion just like you posted urs. If im not mistaking she asked for everyones opnion so just because mine went against urs doesnot mean im hear 2 argue i just wanted 2 give my advice!

Lisa - posted on 10/12/2009

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oooh I was reading some of the other posts, lots of negativity, so just to clarify my children who like to launch out of the bed were in their 2s or 3s, not newborns or babies. At the age of 3 and 4 is when I kicked my boys out of the bed. They handled it fairly well. They went straight to twin beds in a separate room. I just announced that they were big boys and big boys got their own beds with cool bedding and we spent a few months with them crawling into bed with me around 4am, until they started sleeping better.

so it's not hopeless to get your child into their own bed. Even my toddler was in her own bed for a few months (at the end of my bed) but we had the A/C set up in the only window and that happened to blow on her and she'd wake up freezing in the middle of the night, so I just started having her back in my bed full time.

Lisa - posted on 10/12/2009

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how is sleeping with your baby bad?? well, I guess if you are a drug user, an alcoholic or largely overweight then it would be bad because you'd end up squashing your baby, but if you are non of the above then sleeping with your baby is GREAT!

I've slept with all three of mine and i'm looking forward to sleeping with my next one. I've slept with a toddler and a newborn at the same time (just keep on on each side), and I'll probably be doing that again since my toddler is still in my bed though she has her own. I find sleeping with her in my bed is much more relaxing, she doesn't wake up cold, and I don't wake up all night thinking I heard her, or wondering if she's wet--I just reach out and feel.

plus if you nurse it's so easy to flip up your top and nurse. though I do not recommend falling asleep while nursing....if the baby wakes up later and starts to nurse again it's an odd feeling and a surprising wake up! :D

my favorite part about co-sleeping right now is waking up in the morning to my two year old smiling down at me and saying "morning" and giving me and my belly kisses. We also like to take naps together, though that is more recent since I am a little sick. generally I just put her down for a nap on her own, but today I snuggled with her and we both slept for two hours--she even slept through the neighbor yelling right outside our house, and the dryer going off (I woke up both times).

Babies sleep SO much better when they are next to you--think about it. They spent 9 months hearing your heartbeat, breathing your scent, and feeling your warmth. Then you go and give birth and now that baby no longer has that. They might sleep for the first two weeks because they are tired and their little bodies are adapting to processing milk instead of your nutrients from your blood--but once that wears off, they are very aware that mommy isn't near and they have a need to survive...which means they depend on you to take care of them and need you near them.

I don't know about others, but I feel that I should provide those needs and be there for my child. I do not like CIO, that trains a child to self-sooth because they learn that mommy ISN'T there for them. My kids are all securely attached to me, and we have a great relationship. My daughter goes to sleep SO fast at night. I don't go to bed with her, I brush her teeth, change her diaper, get her babies and sippy cup and a huge book with no pictures (for some reason she likes my books) and I plop her in my bed and she snuggles in and is asleep with no crying in about 10 mins. She can get out of the bed if she wants to, the door is open, but she doesn't. she lays there and "reads" and then falls asleep. She knows I will be coming in and snuggling her and so she is very content to go to bed.

my husband likes to snuggle her too, but she kicks him, so their snuggling generally doesn't last too long. lol.

give it a try if you like it.

It helps if you are a light sleeper though, so that if there is something wrong you will notice. I can't tell you how many times I've reached out and caught a child before they launched themselves off the bed (few times I've failed and they don't like crashing head first on the floor too much...), or how many times I've felt them come down with a fever at 2am....

Katie - posted on 10/12/2009

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Quoting Iysha:

So, having your baby in your bed because she is teething is okay, she will be safe because...she's teething? Umm...if motrin didn't help, try some baby Tylenol, Tissue salts, Oragel, Something is bound to work! I gave my daughter Infant Tylenol when she was starting to teethe right after her night feeding and she was out all night!

Anyway, I'm not here to argue, just give you all my opinion that yes, I do think having your baby with you while you sleep is not a good chioce and to give the reasons why I feel that way. Good luck with the whole sleeping with your baby thing.... hope it goes well for you.



I think you are very rude, when you speak your opinion. You dont have to be so negative with your responses. I understand you are against it but, you dont have to attack other moms quotes.

Chrystal - posted on 10/12/2009

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i have slept with all three of my kids and i honestly do not see anything wrong with it. just make sure that when u lay next to your child do not cuddle close, let the child have its breathing room, make sure that you are a light sleeper too and dont drink and sleep next to your baby..i know that sleeping with my kids helped me get better sleep while they were lil and then when they were a lil older babies then they went to sleep easier when i layed with them...i say that if you like to then sleep with ur baby

Joey - posted on 10/12/2009

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My 1st child is now 17 and I slept with her a lot when she was a baby. I was always aware of where she was in the bed and we both slept better and longer when we were together. Even to this day we will fall asleep cuddled on the couch while watching a movie. I think it really contributed to how close we are now. When my soon-to-be twins get here I will probably do the same!

Brenda - posted on 10/12/2009

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my daugther has slept with me most of her life and she is just fine sleeping alone now.and she is five years old, its comforting to both me and her my daughter is deaf and cant hear if she gets scared at night she cant call for me or hear me tell her that everything is ok so it comforts us both and gives us more time together i dont think that there is anything wrong with co sleeping with ur child and it does make them feel safer

Jennifer - posted on 10/12/2009

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If co-sleeping was such a horrible thing then there would not be so many cultures that rely on it. Get Dr. Sear's book and read about co-sleeping. The "family bed" is not a new concept it is one that has been around for many, many years and one that will not go away. Yes there are risks- if you are a deep sleeper, use sleep medications, drink alcohol to the point that you are unaware of your surroundings, etc then I would recommend NOT co-sleeping, otherwise do your research on the safest methods (think warmer night clothes rather than adding a blanket & flatter pillows) and enjoy your time with your baby. BTW- I am also an advocate for having the crib in the bedroom with you. The whole each person gets their own bedroom is a western notion, in eastern cultures it is not uncommon to find one main living area and a sleeping area. Good luck.

Brittanie - posted on 10/12/2009

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I occasionally slept with my son in the beginning, but once he was 4 months or so he slept much better alone because he needs his space! I don't toss and turn and am a very light sleeper, so I knew that rolling on him would never be a problem. Like others have said, do it safely. If you know that you are all over the place when you sleep, maybe it's not such a great idea. Otherwise, take the proper precautions and you and your daughter will be just fine!

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i love having my baby in bed to snuggle close with. with that being said, she's been in her own room and crib since 3 months (she's 7 months now), but every now and then she somehow ends up in bed with mom and dad!

Jill - posted on 10/12/2009

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yes it is bad as im paying the price 9 yrs later , cant get my boy bk in hes own bed and hes slept wiv me since a baby , ive tried every thing but hes too comftable wiv me and it back fires

Rianna - posted on 10/12/2009

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Quoting Ivona:

Many mothers share bed with their babies, which is associated with risk of sudden infant death.

Nearly half of mothers who participated in''Woman, Infants and Children''listened to the recommendations on sleeping infants. Almost one third said that sleeping with your baby in the same bed, which is a known risk factors of sudden infant death, according to new research published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Stressing that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends babies sleep in their cradle in the parent room, etc.. Linda Y. Fu said:

- We really recommend that parents keep the Council and share a room with a baby, but no bed.

DR. Fu is one of the researchers in a study on the Children's National Medical Center in Washington.

Since 1992. , when the AAP first stated that infants should sleep on their backs, the frequency of sudden death in infants decreased to half, they all stressed. Fu and its colleagues in their report. However, the frequency of death has not changed in the last five years, increasing concerns about other risk factors of sudden death in infants, including the sharing of beds, said the researchers.
AAP in 2005. was recommended that babies from birth sleep in the same room with their parents to mothers and fathers were more easily follow the diet, but should not share a bed.



i tried her on her back for 3 weeks! she would wake up every 2 hours. i confided in my sister, she has 2 boys! and she told me they did the same! and that the only way they would sleep was on there stomachs. so needless to say i tried it and every since my daughter has been 3 weeks she has slept on her stomach! by the way when they get 4-5 months they are rolling so you cant prevent them from rolling onto there stomach!!!

Catherine - posted on 10/12/2009

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when my daughter was born i had to stay in for a few days and when she woke in the middle of the night and wouldn;t settle the midwives said to bring her into the bed with me to comfort her. She is now nearly 6 mths old and she does sleep in the same bed as me and my husband and we all get a good nights sleep she is much more settled with us.

Rianna - posted on 10/12/2009

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wow! so many opinions! we are intitled to them! and YES there has been studies done! but with diff. people! some ppl are hard sleepers there for should not sleep with a child, but some get up all hours of the night and the littlest noise or movement can wake them! i have ppl in the medical field in my family! and i still chose to sleep with my child! dont get me wrong when i first brought her home i was completly against it b/c i didnt want her to get used to it and then me never bein able to sleep alone again! but it only took 3 nights and i she was waking up every 2 hours. on the 3rd night i got her to nurse her and fall asleep with her on me! after seeing how well she slept right beside me was enough for me! she does not sleep with me everynight, ( i have a husband who needs attention also) but on the nights she does not sleep well she will end up in our bed. but the scares i once had of her not sleeping by herself were gone! she is now 5 months old and she has no problem sleeping in her crib!

Ivona - posted on 10/12/2009

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Many mothers share bed with their babies, which is associated with risk of sudden infant death.

Nearly half of mothers who participated in''Woman, Infants and Children''listened to the recommendations on sleeping infants. Almost one third said that sleeping with your baby in the same bed, which is a known risk factors of sudden infant death, according to new research published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Stressing that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends babies sleep in their cradle in the parent room, etc.. Linda Y. Fu said:

- We really recommend that parents keep the Council and share a room with a baby, but no bed.

DR. Fu is one of the researchers in a study on the Children's National Medical Center in Washington.

Since 1992. , when the AAP first stated that infants should sleep on their backs, the frequency of sudden death in infants decreased to half, they all stressed. Fu and its colleagues in their report. However, the frequency of death has not changed in the last five years, increasing concerns about other risk factors of sudden death in infants, including the sharing of beds, said the researchers.
AAP in 2005. was recommended that babies from birth sleep in the same room with their parents to mothers and fathers were more easily follow the diet, but should not share a bed.

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