An article posted today, on ABC News, really got my blood boiling - so now we're going to talk about it!
The article (poorly) addressed the issues of co-sleeping, with a predominantly negative slant. So first, lets examine what co-sleeping is. Co-sleeping implies children sleeping in the same room as their parent, room-sharing, which includes, but is not exclusive to, sleeping in their parent bed, or bed-sharing. The American Academy of Paediatrics supports co-sleeping, but not bed-sharing - although their research does not support the hypothesis that bed-sharing can increase the possibility of SIDS. In fact, the reason that they support room-sharing is because it has been proven to reduce the possibility of SIDS. Researchers are still not sure what causes SIDS, but what they do know is that the elevated levels of Carbon dioxide, given off by the parents while they sleep, continually stimulate the baby to keep breathing. As far as I'm concerned that alone is a good enough reason to co-sleep with your child.
There are, however, a slew of other practical, emotional and psychological benefits to co-sleeping. From a practical perspective, the disruption of night-time feeds is greatly reduced by having your baby as close to you as possible. Once mama and baby have their system down pat, the baby can usually feed with the mama barely waking up, can I get an Amen?
There are two very popular baby books at the moment, Baby Sense and Sleep Sense, which I am NOT a supporter of. I mention them though because they have been quite instrumental in encouraging parents to have babies in their own rooms, and when children resist this transition, leaving them to cry it out (also known as controlled crying), under the guise of teaching children to 'self-sooth'. However, crying is an extremely important means of communication for a young child or baby. When you respond quickly to your child's cries you teach them two things. Firstly, that they can trust you and secondly, and more importantly, that they can trust themselves to communicate their needs effectively. These are the very first build blocks of your child's self-esteem. Young children are not meant to self-sooth. It is their parents job to provide soothing comfort, in whatever form that may take, until the child is emotionally and psychologically read to do so on their own. Being 'tough' with your child, rather than meeting their needs, does not teach them to do it themselves, rather it breaks their trust in you as a parent and protector. I look forward to the day when 'cry it out' and similar parenting techniques are considered child abuse, and responded to as such!
So I hope you can see form this post that I'm not just one crunchy parent preaching alone in the wilderness - Co-sleeping has a myriad of benefits for both you and your child, and I have only touched on the most obvious ones here. Bed-sharing was one of the BEST decisions the Rooster and I ever made :) I wish you all nights of peaceful slumber!