Being a first-time parent is one of the scariest and rewarding experiences anyone will ever face. The do’s and don’ts of parenthood are seemingly endless with conflicting opinions and facts surrounding every aspect. One of the most popular topics to discuss is that of co-sleeping with your child. Co-sleeping is when one or both parents sleep with the child in their adult bed instead of providing the child with its own sleeping space. Some parents swear co-sleeping is a lifesaver, while others avoid it at all costs.
So, what is the truth about co-sleeping?
Any new parent knows the struggle of getting sleep after having a baby. Between 2-hour feedings and diaper changes, getting a good night’s rest can often feel like an impossible feat. Parents sometimes choose to co-sleep out of sheer desperation. It is easier for mom to breastfeed and it’s easier to calm a crying baby without having to get up and walk to the crib. But many parents do not fully understand the risks involved with co-sleeping.
What the Experts Have to Say
In a study conducted by the US National Library of Medicine, it was found that infants that share a bed with their parent/s spend more time awake and in lighter stages of sleep compared to infants that sleep in their own space. In other words, babies sleep more soundly and for longer when they are alone.
The CDC adds that about 3,500 sleep-related deaths occur each year among babies in the United States including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and accidental suffocation. The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns against placing infants in adult beds stating that 64 deaths each year are caused by suffocation and strangulation due to co-sleeping.
What Does “Safe Sleep” Look Like?
So if co-sleeping is so dangerous, what does safe sleep look like. Well, Growing Up NYC describes infant safe sleep as putting baby to bed in their own crib or bassinet, laying flat on their back, with nothing in their space (including blankets, loose sheets, and toys). In the 1990’s, a campaign known as the “Back to Sleep: safe sleep” was introduced in which parents were educated about the risks of unsafe sleep and were encouraged to participate in safe sleep practices.
This campaign led to massive declines in sleep-related deaths. Following these standards significantly decreases any risk of accidental suffocation and encourages babies to develop their own sleep patterns as they grow older. Safe sleep also helps parents sleep better at night without the worry of suffocation or rolling over onto their babies.
The first couple of months with a baby are the hardest. At around three or four months babies will not have to eat as often throughout the night and getting a full night’s rest will be infinitely easier. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to safe sleep because the worst-case scenario is death.
For more information on safe sleep practices, check out the Growing Up NYC Sleep Safe website. Educate yourself on the risks of not practicing safe sleep.