The day mom brings baby home can be so exciting and also very overwhelming. The moment she sits down with her new baby in her home, a huge sense of responsibility settles lightly (or heavily...) on her shoulders, because now begins the journey of parenthood. There are many different decisions that a parent has to make, hopefully before but sometimes upon, bringing their baby into their home for the first time. To breastfeed or not to breastfeed? Where should baby sleep? In the bed or in their crib? There are so many questions running through a new parent’s head that it can be dizzying.
Parenthood can be hard to navigate. There is never one solid answer to these pressing questions that suits every situation, because every child is different and unique in their needs, as is every parent.
While we can’t offer all of the answers, we can definitely try to help parents make a sound decision on what may work best for them and the baby in some circumstances. Here, we’re going to cover one of the questions that many parents may be asking themselves: Where should my baby sleep? Is it okay for the baby to sleep in the bed with me or should they stay in the crib? The solution is always left to the parents’ discretion, but below you’ll find 15 reasons why co-sleeping may not be the best idea for parents and infants. We’ll start by discussing our first reason, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS.
SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It is when a baby less than a year old dies suddenly, usually during sleep, of an unknown cause. Many babies who die from SIDS are seemingly healthy, and the unknown cause of SIDS makes it hard to identify symptoms or signs that a child may die from it. However, there are some factors that could put a baby at risk. One of the first factors to help avoid SIDS is placing the baby in the proper position during sleep, which is on their back.
Other factors that could cause problems include abnormalities in the brain, respiratory problems, and environmental elements. Some researchers have found that certain demographic factors such as age, sex, and race can contribute to a higher risk of SIDS. Boys are at a higher risk of SIDS than girls. Black, American Indian and Native Alaskan babies are also at a higher risk for SIDS. Babies who are two to three months old are also at a higher risk. Babies who co-sleep may also be at risk due to some of the following factors.
Another major concern that parents face when they decide to co-sleep is a lack of intimacy. It’s definitely guaranteed to be a lot harder to sleep and do other things when you are caring for the needs of another human being 24-7. Infants require care at absurd hours sometimes, and you have to be able to answer that call. Even if the baby isn’t sleeping in the same bed, a lack of intimacy is not uncommon for couples of newborns.
Babies don’t have to completely block any hopes of intimacy, though it can be a lot harder to spend quality time with your partner if you are also sharing your bed with a child. If a parent is co-sleeping or considering co-sleeping, decreased intimacy is definitely a factor that should be taken into consideration. If a parent is growing worried about a lack of intimacy between them and their partner, it can always be discussed and other solutions can be reached about sleeping arrangements for the child.
As careful as one may try to be when sleeping with an infant, it can be hard to control our body movements during sleep. For a parent that is a relatively deep sleeper that moves around a lot, sleeping with a baby may not be the best idea. Babies are small and relatively fragile during their first few months of life.
It is important that a parent think about their partner’s sleeping habits as well as their own before deciding to welcome a baby into their bed. It may seem like a good idea for mom and baby to be close and able to feed when necessary, but if there is a chance that someone could roll over onto the baby or place the baby in an awkward position while sleeping, co-sleeping is best avoided. If a parent rolls over on a baby or covers their mouth or nose, it could constrict airways and cause breathing problems and even suffocation.
There are many posts and experts that reveal mixed reviews on co-sleeping. It’s ultimately the parents decision, but we’re here to help you make that decision. If a parent is feeling uneasy about the idea of allowing their child to share their bed, or even if they don’t necessarily like the idea, they don’t have to do it. Some people swear that it makes the family closer and wouldn’t have it any other way, while others will roll their eyes and say that it is taking babying too far.
Like it’s been stated before, every child and parent is different. What may work for one parent, may not work for another. If a parent isn’t quite feeling the option of co-sleeping, then they don’t have to do it. There is tons of research out there to help support parents in their decisions to co-sleep or not to co-sleep. So that decision is totally left up to the discretion of the parent.
Headboards can pose a serious risk to the safety of a baby. Barred headboards can allow a baby’s head to get stuck in between the bars. Other kinds of headboards pose a risk simply because a baby can accidentally fall in the space between the bed and the headboard and get stuck or worse, suffocate.
Regardless of whether the baby is sleeping or happens to wake up during the night and crawl off, babies can manage to fall into bad spaces that could be hard to get them out of. If a parent decides to co-sleep, it may be best to avoid using a headboard or make sure that there is little to no room for the baby to fall between the headboard and the bed. It’s important to be mindful of the potential risks that headboards could pose to the health and life of the baby.
While headboards may prove to be ineffective as safe boundaries for babies, it’s important that if a parent chooses to sleep with their baby that they have some sort of boundary in place so that the baby can’t fall or crawl off the sides of the bed. If a baby wakes up in the middle of the night or after a nap, and decides to start moving around the bed, it can pose a threat to their safety because they may fall off the bed and get hurt.
If a parent decides that they want to co-sleep or allow their baby to sleep in their bed during naps, they should make sure that they have boundaries in place to prevent the baby from falling off the bed. They should also place pillows or some other form of cushion on the floor as a secondary defense should a baby happen to fall off the bed anyway.
Some people may argue that allowing your child to sleep with you can cause an over-dependency to develop. This may or may not be true, because every child and situation is different. However, once it starts it can be a very hard habit to break away from. Once a child reaches a certain age, parents can feel compelled to “kick them out of the nest,” so to speak. It can become very taxing and uncomfortable to have to share a bed with a child, especially as they start to grow and take up space.
It doesn’t lead to very comfortable sleep for the parents or for the child. Some may say that it even makes it hard for a child to develop independence from their parents the longer they co-sleep. This may not be true in every situation, but it is certainly something else to consider before deciding to share a bed with an infant.
While pillows make great head support for older children and adults, they are not recommended for sleeping babies. Pillows are a soft material and squishy, and they are made to give way when someone or something places pressure on them. If a baby was to lean into a pillow or simply turn their head into a pillow during sleep, it could cause problems with breathing or suffocation. There should not be any pillows or stuffed toys in the vicinity of the baby’s head.
Even if a parent is only using a pillow as a barrier, it could pose a threat to the safety of the baby. (Ironic, we know.) If a parent decides to allow their child to co-sleep with them or use the bed for naps, they should consider finding alternative sources of comfort for the baby during sleep and more durable barriers that don’t pose a suffocation risk for the child.
Another reason to avoid co-sleeping is the development of bad sleeping habits. Many experts would say that allowing an infant to sleep in the same room with the parent should be done for at least a year. This way, parents can closely monitor their child throughout the night. But what happens if the child is sleeping in the bed with the parents and isn’t able to break the habit after a year or so? Some parents may not mind at all if their child sleeps in the bed with them for prolonged periods of time.
However, allowing a child to sleep in the bed with the parents can cause problems in sleeping habits for both the child and the parents. Some children may become accustomed to sharing a bed with their parents and cry if they are placed in cribs or encouraged to sleep in a different room once they are a little older. Others might start to develop problems with continuous sleep patterns. It can be hard for a child who shares a bed to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night if they are co-sleeping. Not to mention, it can become increasingly uncomfortable and difficult for the parents to get a good night’s sleep as their child grows.
Parents who have a habit of smoking or drinking alcohol should use extreme caution before deciding to let their baby sleep with them. Drinking alcohol or consuming drugs that can impair a person’s functions should be limited when deciding to co-sleep. If a parent drinks too much and passes out, they run the risk of injuring or suffocating the baby. People who sleep deeply run the risk of suffocating their baby with co-sleeping and that risk is much greater with a parent who is impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Parents who smoke also run the risk of their child dying or becoming ill from second-hand smoke inhalation. It is important for parents with these habits to understand the risks associated with co-sleeping, alcohol, drugs and SIDS. Likewise, a parent who is taking some form of sedative or drug that may cause deep sleep or sporadic movements during sleep, may want to avoid sleeping with their infants.
Again, it is important for parents to understand how their sleeping habits could affect their child. Parents who are wild sleepers should exercise caution or completely do away with the idea of co-sleeping. Similar to how a baby’s sleeping patterns can influence that of the parent, parents who decide to co-sleep and experience restlessness throughout the night run the risk of interrupting their child’s sleep patterns. Many people are restless sleepers and it’s not fault of their own, and a partner may be able to deal with it, but a baby doesn’t have those coping mechanisms.
If a parent regularly gets up during the middle of the night. This could also cause problems. Depending on how long the child co-sleeps with their parents, irregular sleeping patterns and habits could persist well past infancy and into childhood. A child may think that sleeping restlessly is the way one is supposed to sleep, and their sleep will be disturbed because they are actually sleeping peacefully.
It has been noted in research that one of the most common causes of SIDS is bad sleeping positions. Babies who are laid on their bellies may experience a harder time breathing than babies who are laid on their backs. Thus, this is why it’s recommended that parents place their children on their backs for sleep.
If left in the care of another person like a sitter or family member, it is important for them to know how to position the baby when putting them down for a nap or bedtime. Sleeping on the side is also not a very good position for a baby. For one thing, the baby could fall over on her face and suffocate. Just like lying on their stomach, babies who lie on their sides during sleep may face problems with breathing. Keep babies on their backs and try to avoid placing anything on them or around them that may restrict their movements during sleep.
Just as with pillows, soft comforters, bedding, mattresses and stuffed animals all pose a risk to a baby and their breathing capabilities. Soft bedding and pillows could place the baby in an unnatural sleeping position, causing respiratory issues during sleep. Comforters and bedding are also similar to pillows in that they may give way when a baby lays his or her head on it. This could mean that the sheet may cover baby's mouth or nose and prevent the baby from breathing normally or at all.
Likewise, plush toys and stuffed animals present a similar risk, because they could just as easily cause the baby to asphyxiate. As a general rule of thumb, parents should avoid placing their children on super soft surfaces and around super soft or plush objects. It’s best to allow a baby to sleep on his or her back on a harder surface that won’t restrict airflow or breathing in any way.
Another issue that parents might face is letting go. Just like it may be possible for a child to become dependent, it can also be possible for parents, too. It can be hard to let go of a child after you’ve become used to sharing your space with them during sleep. Just like children find comfort and solace in co-sleeping, parents may also find some kind of comfort as well. Knowing your child is right there next to them, and safe, can be reassuring. Again, it’s always the parents' choice to decide when they should stop allowing their child to sleep with them. However, there always comes a period in time where it gets to be too much, physically and mentally to handle.
Children only continue to get bigger and stronger from infancy, so catching a good night’s sleep may become increasingly difficult. It’s important to be aware of the issues one might face in bringing an end to co-sleeping before it even begins.
Finally, the last reason not to co-sleep may be as simple as not having enough space. If a parent is sharing a pretty small bed with their partner, it’s probably best to opt out of co-sleeping. If it is already hard to sleep well sharing a bed with one other person, adding a baby to the mix might not be the best idea. If a parent doesn’t feel like they have enough space in their bed for their child to sleep, they shouldn’t force it.
There are always other options, like allowing the child to sleep in their crib in the same room. If a parent decides to co-sleep and they don’t have enough space in their bed, they run the risk of injuring or suffocating the child. It’s not a necessity that the child sleep in the same bed, so a crib located somewhere in the same room will suffice. As long as mom and dad have easy access to their baby, not co-sleeping won’t be much of an issue.