Are you planning to share a bed with your baby at some point? Here's what you need to know about co-sleeping.
Sleeping next to or in the same bed with your baby or young child, also known as co-sleeping, is a hot topic among parents and health professionals.
There are many conflicting views on co-sleeping, but until the 19th century, when cots came into use in many Westernised countries, co-sleeping was the norm worldwide. It is still standard practice for families in many parts of the world.
In recent years, advocates of attachment parenting have campaigned to reintroduce co-sleeping into Western culture, because it has several advantages:
- It promotes bonding and facilitates breastfeeding
- It lets parents get more sleep
- Stress hormones are lower in mothers and babies who co-sleep
- Some research 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
- Some advocates also believe co-sleeping may promote long-term emotional health
One large recent study, however, indicates that co-sleeping could potentially 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.