Sharing sleep: An in-depth look

Co-Sleeping Increases Touching

Touching has been shown to be important and beneficial in how the baby develops physically, emotionally, and intellectually.

Children Sleep Better

Co-sleeping gives the child a feeling of security and of being loved and protected. There is no need to be afraid and the body heat of another person is very comforting. In Dr. Sears reviews he found that co-sleeping children awakened less often and have fewer nightmares and nighttime disturbances. These children view sleep as a pleasant time of closeness. Children who sleep alone (especially if they don't want to) often consider it a fearful time of separation.

Fathers Benefit

Co-sleeping may create a closer bond between the parents and child. Once they get used to it many fathers report that they feel closer to their babies. This also enables fathers to spend more time with their children, after all human beings spend a third of their life asleep.

How can we all sleep comfortably together?

Be open to trying various sleep arrangements. Co-sleeping is not limited to having your child in your bed.

It may mean having baby in a "side car" arrangement with his open crib next to your bed. For an older child it could mean a mat on the floor next to your bed (watch out for drafts). For some families it means wall-to-wall mattresses on the floor. It can also mean having your child in your room or bed for only part of the night. Some parents enjoy their evening alone until their baby's first night waking when they move him into their bed. Others let him fall asleep in their bed and then move him to his own room. Some older children start out in their own beds and join their parents later in the night if they feel the need. And some parents stay in their child's bed until the child falls asleep. Dr. Sears notes, "Sharing sleep also requires that you trust your intuition about the parenting of your individual child rather than unquestioningly accepting the norms of society." Also consider that this is not a now and forever decision. You can always try other approaches if your first decision does not work for your family.

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