One of the biggest challenges new parents face in the early stages of parenthood is getting their baby into a regular sleep schedule.
In fact, one study found that new moms are still dangerously sleep deprived even four months after having their baby. It really isn’t easy to get into a sleep routine with your newborn, but it’s important for both of you.
To make matters more complicated, all of your family and friends have a different “best” way to get baby sleeping consistently and regularly. It can be really hard to figure out what advice is myths and choose methods that will work best for you.
The thing is, parents and babies both need sleep… but new babies also need ’round the clock care.
There are options that can help achieve both of those things, and safe co sleeping is one way you can handle this tricky transition period.
You may have already decided it’s the right thing for you…
…or maybe you haven’t decided, but you are interested in the benefits of safe co sleeping, and wonder what bedtime would look like if you decided to share a bed with baby.
This article will talk about some of the ways co sleeping can benefit both new parents and their precious bundle of joy. And then it will provide you with some techniques you can use to master safe co sleeping.
Let’s first look at a few reasons safe co sleeping can help both you and baby get more sleep, let you provide better care for your baby, and provide your baby with health benefits.
Benefits of Co Sleeping
Co sleeping has been negatively discussed in some popular media, but it actually has a lot of great benefits backed by science.
In a study, co sleeping babies cried four times less than solo sleeping babies, had better breathing patterns during sleep, and had lowered risk of SIDS.
Data was also published showing that there are three times as many infant fatalities associated with crib sleeping infants than those co sharing in an adult bed.
On top of these scientifically researched health effects, there are also safe co sleeping benefits that parents mention from experiencing it themselves.
Here’s a couple positive side effects of co sleeping that parents talk about:
· They Get to Reconnect with Baby
Your lives were already busy… and now you have a new baby!
Spending as much time with your baby as you would like isn’t always easy.
When you practice co sleeping, you get to reconnect with your baby at the end of a long day that was potentially spent apart.
It can be a great bonding experience for both parents and infant, providing mutually beneficial psychological effects.
· It’s Easier to Meet Baby’s Needs
Newborn babies need a lot of attention. In particular, they’re really hungry! You can’t blame them… they’re growing super fast.
In addition to feeding them the best organic baby formula, you can help them grow by being ready to feed them when they need it. A great thing about safe co sleeping is you can be right there for baby whenever they wake up and need a snack.
Instead of having to walk down the hall, where you often find your baby already wide awake and upset, you are always by their side. The arrangement allows you to be ready for your baby whenever they need some of their organic baby formula to get them through the night.
Feeding your baby in bed is actually suggested as safer by experts than it is to feed them on the couch or sofa. If you feed your baby outside of bed, you run the risk of falling asleep with them wherever you are. They are less likely to overheat and it reduces the possibility of SIDS if they are flat on their back — which naturally happens in the bed with you.
Now that we’ve established why practicing co sleeping with your baby is a great idea with a ton of benefits, let’s discuss how to master safe co sleeping.
Here’s some useful techniques to make your co sleeping experience a breeze.
Techniques for Mastering Safe Co Sleeping
1. Know when it’s not a good time
Co sleeping isn’t always safe. There are some circumstances in which you should never co sleep with your baby.
If you or your partner is under the influence of any substance, such as alcohol or prescription drugs, you should not sleep in the same bed as you could forget about your baby being there with you.
This advice is the same if you’re extremely tired… if you’re in too deep of a sleep and are less aware you run the risk of harming your baby by rolling on top of them.
You should be ready for when these circumstances occur, as it won’t always be realistic to have your baby in bed with you. It’s best to have a backup plan available.
2. Be prepared for when you can’t co sleep
There will be times when safe co sleeping isn’t an option, as previously discussed.
Be prepared for this with a solution, always have a Plan B.
You can have a co sleeping cot or a bedside crib available and ready for when it isn’t optimal to have your baby in bed with you.
This allows you to still experience many of the benefits of co sleeping without exposing your baby to potential risks.
3. Sleep with your baby in the “C” position
The best safe co sleeping position for both you and your baby is called the “C” position.
It looks just like it sounds!
Lay on your side facing your baby and place your lower arm under your head. Draw your knees up towards your body so they’re under your baby’s feet.
This position has a couple benefits. First, it prevents you from rolling so you stay in a safe co sleeping position. Second, it keeps pillows away from your baby’s face.
4. Don’t swaddle your baby when they’re co sleeping
Wrapping your baby up in blankets for bedtime isn’t the best option when co sleeping.
It is better if their hands are free. This will give them the ability to push blankets or pillows away from their face if necessary.
Keeping your baby un-swaddled also helps reduce the risk of overheating, which can easily happen when you’re sharing a bed.
In addition to this, there are other methods you can use to reduce the risk of your baby getting too hot.
5. Keep bedding light and minimal
When practicing safe co sharing, another suggestion to avoid overheating is keeping the bedding light and minimal.
Make sure your sheets are tight around the bed and do not bunch up which could create excess folds of fabric.
Using just a sheet or a light duvet are the best options, and only draw it up to waist level to avoid covering your baby’s face.
6. Stay with your baby while they sleep
Babies are squirmy little fidget-ers.
Avoid letting them wriggle into trouble by attending to them at all times. This ensures they don’t fall off the bed or accidentally cover themselves with pillows or blankets.
7. Don’t have any more of your children in bed
Your toddler isn’t as self-aware as you are yet, so they may not realize if they’re potentially harming your new baby.
If you have another young child in the house who frequently climbs into bed with you, your best option for safe co sleeping is to keep your new baby in a cot or bedside crib.
Having your toddler and new baby in the bed with you at the same time may be inevitable. The safest practice when this occurs is to keep yourself between the two of them.
8. Use a firm mattress
A nice firm mattress reduces the risk of your baby overheating or getting smothered.
Waterbeds, bean bags, or a soft mattress aren’t acceptable for safe co sleeping.
You can also increase the safety of your bed by making sure there are no gaps between your mattress and the headboard or bed frame. There will be no places baby could accidentally slip into if you do this check.
There are a lot of different methods and opinions on what the best practices are for raising your new baby.
Do your own research and find the options that will work best for you and your family.
If you’re considering co sleeping with your new baby, it can be a great option for parents who want to:
- Experience its scientifically backed health benefits. These include reduced infant crying, decreased risk of infant mortality, and improved breathing patterns during sleep.
- Reconnect with their baby in the evening after potentially being apart due to their busy lives.
- Be able to meet their babies needs more efficiently, including feeding their baby without having them be awake and upset by the time the parents reach them.
Co sleeping is potentially the solution you need to ensure both you and your new baby are getting a healthy good nights sleep.
It won’t necessarily be easy, but parenthood has never claimed to be a walk in the park!
Fortunately, you can master safe co sleeping by following the techniques provided in this article — and be on your way to solving the challenge of getting your new baby into a regular sleep cycle.