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Newborn and Infant Care

Co-sleeping

05/07/2002

Question:

What are your thoughts on "co-sleeping" with a newborn baby? I am a week away from my due date and have read the Sears book that advocates it, and also other books that advise you to encourage independent sleeping from the get-go. I plan to breastfeed and love the idea of just rolling over to feed at night. At the same time, a friend who loved doing that found, at 5 months, that her baby was waking every hour to feed, no one was getting sleep, she had to get the baby out of their bed, and it wasn`t easy! I want to start off on the right foot. Can you help?

Answer:

Co-sleeping (or sleeping in the same bed with his/her parents) is the only place an infant would sleep in many countries. If you decide to sleep with your baby there are a few things to first consider. What type of bed do you sleep in? IF it is a waterbed DO NOT place your baby in this bed. Your bed needs to have a firm mattress (not one of the pillow tops). Large numbers of pillow, comforters and quilts should not be in use. The baby needs to be able to freely and easily turn their head. In addition the baby should always be placed on their back. Placing a baby on their back reduces the incidence of SIDS. You should also NEVER sleep with your baby if you are ill, sedated, intoxicated or grossly obese. Babies who do sleep with someone become use to the contact, and will miss it when you remove the baby from your bed. Some babies may have difficulty taking naps without someone in bed with them. Babies in bed with you are often nursed more frequently because it is easy and convenient, so they become accustomed to frequent nursing during the night. Also, some parents worry that the baby will roll out of bed or that they will roll over on the baby. If you are worried about this you may not sleep well. As a new parent it is essential that you get adequate rest. You need to think about all of this before you make your decision, and discuss it with the baby`s father since it will affect both of your sleep. Now for the advantages of co-sleeping. You have the baby handy when it is time to feed the baby. You are aware of where your baby is at all times, and know how well, or how poorly he/she is sleeping. Some people feel that a tighter bond is established when you have slept with your infant. The most important thing to remember is that the decision you make needs to be made by you based on your unique situation, and that only you, and the baby`s father can make the decision.

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Response by:

Tina   Weitkamp, RNC, MSN Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati