One way to nurture a healthy attachment with your baby is to sleep within at least an arms reach of your baby. There are different ways to do this:
- The baby sleeps next to you on the same mattress in your bed (called bed-sharing), or
- The baby sleeps next to you on a separate mattress either attached safely to your adult bed, in a bedside co-sleeper, or in a bassinet or crib placed beside your bed (called co-sleeping).
When done correctly and safely, both bed-sharing and co-sleeping are healthy and protective options that are backed by science.
Benefits of Sleeping Within Arms Reach of Your Baby:
- Parent can easily protect and monitor baby throughout the entire night;
- Parent gets more sleep;
- Breastfeeding is easier;
- Babies sleep and grow better;
- Reduces the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome;
- Increases your chances of having a successful breastfeeding relationship;
- Helps your baby feel that their world is a safe place because you can easily comfort them while they sleep and when they wake.
- Promotes better bonding; and
- Babies grow up with a healthy sleep attitude.
Guidelines for Safe Bed-Sharing:
- Place baby to sleep on their back.
- Be sure there are no crevices/space between the mattress and guardrail or headboard that allows baby’s head to sink into.
- Do not allow anyone but the experienced bed-sharing parent to sleep next to the baby, since only they have that protective awareness of baby. Place baby between the experienced bed-sharing parent and a guardrail, not between the parents, or next to an older child. The non-experienced bed-sharing parent should sleep on the other side of experienced bed-sharing parent, not next to the baby.
- Don’t fall asleep with baby on a cushy surface, such as a beanbag, couch, or wavy waterbed.
- Don’t bed-share if you smoke or are under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medications that affect your sleep.
Adapted from Dr. Sears
- Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory
- Dr. Sears Sleep Sharing Basics
- Scientific Benefits of Co-Sleeping
- Why Babies Should Not Sleep Alone
- Dangers Of ‘Crying It Out’ Method- Psychology Today
- What You Need To Know About ‘Cry-It-Out’
- Sleep Training: A Review for Research– This is a list of resources (articles/ websites/books) for research-based information on infant sleep, night time parenting, baby crying, need for nourishment and comfort at night, and physiological body and brain responses to ‘controlled crying,’ ‘cry it out,’ or ‘sleep training’ methods. Also see psychological conditioning studies on the brain, immune system, development and learned helplessness (which occurs among babies whose care-givers utilize these methods).