Friday, October 19, 2007

Co-Sleeping: Is It For You? By Lily Morgan

Many new parents prepare for a baby's arrival by purchasing a crib. Some children, though, never seem to be able to sleep well in the crib. They fuss, they cry, and the only place they seem able to sleep is in a parents arms or lying next to them in a bed. That's the point where parents start to look for any solution to get some rest. Co-sleeping may be the answer.

Co-sleeping isn't a new concept. Many other countries have parents bringing their children to sleep in their own bed. Babies sleep better and longer, and parents do as well. Some cultures are even a little amazed that the Western world puts their children in "cages" to sleep. Our society waffles between experts who claim co-sleeping is a bad habit that will be difficult to break and experts who believe co-sleeping to be the best arrangement for all.

The benefits of co-sleeping have been proven. For breastfeeding mothers, co-sleeping with a child allows for easier feeding. Both mother and child can attend to needs while resting without much disturbance. There is no full waking with a need to cry for the child to receive attention. For tired parents, co-sleeping creates harmonized sleep patterns in which baby and mother tend to slumber and wake at the same periods. The increased contact of a familial bed also promotes attachment parenting, reassurance and comfort. Co-sleeping may also help prevent SIDS.

A familial bed is just as safe as having babies sleep in a crib. Of course, it is important for parents to ensure maximum safety by choosing a firm mattress, removing loose, fluffy bedding and installing a baby gate or setting the bed next to a wall. These safety precautions are the same for children who sleep in a crib; there is a gate, mattresses are firm, and there is often little bedding involved. In either case of crib-sleeping or co-sleeping, pillows are removed.

Co-sleeping should only be practiced in a household where parents are non-smoking and do not abuse drugs or alcohol. It is a myth that children who co-sleep with parents are at a greater risk of suffocation.

It is also a myth that children who co-sleep won't leave the family bed to gain independence. Think about this: How many teens do you know that sleep with their parents? Children will want to leave the family bed. Most parents report that children are more than willing to have their own bed at around ages two to three, when they are ready, physically, emotionally and mentally.

The point is to establish a situation that ensures the best rest possible for all involved, whether it be co-sleeping or crib sleeping. If the situation isn't working for one or all, change it. Being close to the people we love most isn't a habit
that needs to be broken, nor is getting a good night's sleep supposed to be a struggle. What's important is a trusting, harmonious relationship at all times, during waking hours or sleeping ones!

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