co-sleepingCo-sleeping is a controversial topic of conversation among many parents and professionals, and is regularly featured in the media. It is classed as the practice of sleeping with babies and young children together in the same bed as one or both parents.

There are many conflicting views on co-sleeping, safety and health and this causes much confusion as the terms co-sleeping and bedsharing are used interchangeably.

Co-sleeping is standard practice in many parts of the world outside North America, Europe and Australia. It was widely practiced in all areas until the 19th century when children were given their own rooms and cribs were used.

Co-sleeping has been relatively recently re-introduced into the Western culture by advocates of attachment parenting, due to the following:

  • It promotes bonding
  • It facilitates breastfeeding
  • It enables the parents to get more sleep
  • Stress hormones are lower in mothers and babies who co-sleep, specifically balancing the hormone cortisol essential for a baby’s healthy growth
  • One study has shown that the physiology of a co-sleeping baby is more stable, showing a more stable temperature, more regular heart rhythms, and fewer long pauses in breathing
  • Co-sleeping may also promote long term emotional health, according to another study

A new study has shown, however, that co-sleeping may increase the risk of cot death, so the Royal College of Midwives, the Department of Health and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) all continue to recommend that the safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot or crib in your room for the first six months.

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