Pros and Cons of Co-sleeping: Is it right for your family?
So, you just had a baby and are wondering if co-sleeping is right for you and your family? Or you may be pregnant and want to know the pros and cons of co-sleeping with your newborn before you try it!
I won’t sugar coat this, I’ll break it down for you plain and simple so you know the joys and the aggravation of co-sleeping with your babies!
Over the last nine years that I’ve been a parent, I’ve met two types of mothers. One that can’t even fathom the idea of sleeping away from their baby and the other type who can’t understand how anyone could sleep with their baby! And I totally understand where both of these moms are coming from!!
Eventually, the mothers who do co-sleep from the beginning usually move their babies at some point because let’s face it….sleeping with a crazy kicking toddler is no picnic!
Hopefully, this guide will help you decide what is best for your family and also learn the benefits and disadvantages of each situation.
A Little History on Co-sleeping
Years and years ago all mothers would co-sleep with their babies all over the world up until the 19th century. This was the norm back then and is actually still very common in many nonwestern societies today!
It wasn’t right to have your baby sleep in a completely separate room away from his/her mother. For many parents, it made sense to have your baby close by. It also enables bonding and helps mother with the production of breast milk since the majority of mothers breastfed before formula was invented in the late 1800s.
During the 19th century, the idea of a child having their own crib and room came into play which began to change the ways of how we parent and sleep. (Source) The combination of giving formula to your baby and their own space/room to sleep changed the need to co-sleep for families.
Today the American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend room sharing with your baby (sleeping in the same room as your baby). The AAP however, does not recommend bed sharing. They also have some safety tips and sleep recommendations you can read about on their website here.
I have three daughters myself and I have always co-slept with my babies. Once you add a second or third baby in the mix, things become difficult.
I do believe that if you are breastfeeding your baby, the easiest way for a mom to get any rest is to co-sleep with them.
I also decided to do this with all of my girls because I was so worried about SIDS. The thought of my tiny baby being in a room alone without me, killed me! I was that mom that couldn’t sleep without her, so this worked for us.
Even if you don’t breastfeed but want your baby close to you, the co-sleepers or bassinets I mention below are so great to have because you can keep an eye on your baby all night!
We used an Arm’s Reach co-sleeper which was amazing to have and I’d transfer my little one thereafter I would nurse her. It also made me feel good knowing she wouldn’t get smothered by my big husband at night! 😳
When I had my third baby, a friend got me a DocATot which was great for the newborn stage and I would place it right in between me and my husband so he could also sleep next to her safely as well! He loved this but once she got a bit bigger, the co-sleeper was better for all of my girls.
Having my daughters sleep in the same bed or next to us in a co-sleeper gave me peace of mind and I was able to get more sleep myself. This was SOOOOO important to me because I felt like I nursed so much at night and the idea of getting up several times and going into another room to nurse her and go back to bed seemed ridiculous.
This worked best for my family but it does have its consequences, which I’ll get to in a moment.
Pros of co-sleeping
There are many pros to co-sleeping with your baby which can benefit both mother and baby:
- Sleeping in the same room as your baby reduces the chance of SIDS by 50%! (Source) This was HUGE for me and the number one reason why I chose to co-sleep with my babies. I was so worried about this and the thought of my precious baby being alone in a crib in another room and something horrible happening.
- Mothers get more sleep! Not only do moms get more sleep but studies show that both parents get more sleep if their baby is in the same room. They tend to worry less and if a baby is breastfed, making the transition to nursing easier if the baby is next to mom, rather than one parent getting up to feed the baby in another room. Honestly, I would have been a zombie and not slept at all if my babies weren’t right next to me.
- Baby sleeps better knowing she/he is next to their mother. Babies don’t stir as much if they can sense or smell their mother close by. The precious newborn age is when your baby needs their mama the most!
- Breastfed babies that co-sleep go back to sleep quicker. If you breastfeed your baby, it just makes sense to co-sleep. Once your baby wakes up, you can slide them over and nurse them laying down and they’ll quickly eat and go right back to bed. This means both mom and baby get more rest!
- Co-sleeping also maintains a mother’s breastmilk supply! Your baby won’t miss a feeding and your milk supply won’t drop because you’ll be right there to breastfeed your baby on demand and keep their bellies full!
- Co-sleeping also helps with separation anxiety. It creates a strong bond between mother and baby unlike no other! Baby feels secure and loved knowing their mother is right next to them.
- And finally, if a mom gets more sleep by co-sleeping, she’s able to function better the following day! This is huge for moms with more than one child at home! If mom feels good and this helps her get the sleep she needs to take care of her children the next day, then that’s all that matters! A good amount of sleep for moms after having a baby is so crucial and can also decrease the chances of postpartum depression.
Items I’ve used to help co-sleep safely! 👇
Cons of co-sleeping
There are just as many cons of co-sleeping as there are pros which can make this a difficult decision for parents.
- They may want to sleep with you forever!! No, I’m kidding, not forever but possibly for a good 6-7 years! My oldest still comes into my room at night. I don’t mind this at all but some parents don’t like this. This was the biggest problem I’ve personally had with co-sleeping. I didn’t have the heart to move them around 6-8 months when I should have which made the transition harder as they became more and more used to sleeping with us.
- It can be unsafe for the baby in certain situations. Many health professionals advise parents not to co-sleep because of potential health risks like suffocating a baby. Use caution when sleeping with newborns or young babies and never ever sleep with a baby if using drugs or drinking alcohol. Always use a co-sleeper or a DocATot so the baby can sleep in a safer space.
- It can have a negative impact on your marriage. Every situation is different and this does depend on the relationship the parents have. My husband agreed with me that having our baby in the room with us was best and having a co-sleeper was such a huge help because I was able to transfer my baby once she was done nursing so I could still be next to my husband. However, the older the kids get is when it gets more complicating. I can’t tell you how many nights we go to bed alone but wake up at 3 am with 3 kids in our bed! 😳 Usually, I end up with a corner of the bed and my kids are sprawled out and comfortable! Not the most ideal situation!
- The older they get, the harder it is to move them and the more room they take up in your bed! This means one thing- LESS sleep for parents because there is less room in the bed! This is not a good thing so it’s best to transfer your kids at a young age if you can!
- Things can get difficult once you start having more children! You will need to have time to be with your new baby and somehow move your other child to another side of you or another room. This transition can be impossible for some little kids to understand and cope with.
- It can be unsafe for two children to co-sleep in the same bed if there is a big age difference. Older children may accidentally suffocate a newborn, kick, or unintentionally hurt them if they are aggressive sleepers. It’s always best to have a parent next to the baby and be cautious when bed sharing.
**Having trouble breastfeeding? Check out these posts to help you breastfeed successfully! 👇
Final Tips on co-sleeping successfully
The best tip I can give any parent who does co-sleep is to try and transfer your baby to their room by age 6-8 months. Obviously, the longer your baby is in your bed, the harder the transition will be! I also made sure I gave them naps in their bassinet or crib in their rooms. This helped the transfer go more smoothly because they were already used to their own space and enjoyed napping there. What really seemed to help the most, especially when they were closer to the toddler age, was getting them a big kid bed with bed guards so they couldn’t fall out. I slept with them in their own big kid bed or near them in their crib for a while until they adjusted and this was great for us because I hated the cry it out method! It wasn’t for me at all! Click the photos below for more details 👇
I will tell you one thing, it’s so sweet to have your child want to hold you at night and sleep together. Trust me when I say, they won’t want to sleep with you when they are older! This is just another phase of parenting that you will get through! So, enjoy it while it lasts! One day, this will be long gone and you’ll miss the days of having kids kick you in the head at night and smother you! LOL
Remember, whatever decision you make, you need to do what is best for you and your family. What will help mom get the most rest is what’s important!
For more awesome sleep tips for baby, check out these posts below!
I will be honest here, I can’t give you the best advice about getting your baby to sleep alone! I was the sucker parent that always gave into my girls when they wanted to sleep with me! But I know other moms that have more success with this, these posts below can help you get your baby to sleep in no time!
Gentle Sleep Training- Teaching Baby To Sleep WIthout Tears from Mommy on Purpose
How To Transition From Crib To Toddler Bed from Today Mommy
8 Tips To Help Transition Your Toddler Into Their Own Bed from Raising Biracial Babies
Some great books on co-sleeping and baby sleep in general! 👇
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Check out my favorite baby and breastfeeding products below! 👇