It took my husband and I a long time to admit that we were bed-sharing. It started innocently, with our son sleeping in a bassinet in our room. But one day, we brought our fussy baby into the bed with us and he immediately calmed down and dozed off. This easy sleep routine became our permanent situation for a long time after. Parents who bed-share know what a lovely experience it can be, but some tend to believe that warnings about co-sleeping are myths. Not all are. In fact there are many bed-sharing "myths" that are actually true.
One myth that gets a lot of traction, but is definitely not true, is the myth that co-sleeping or bed-sharing is psychologically damaging to a child. According to an article in Psychology Today by clinical psychologist and sleep disorder specialist Michael J. Breus, a 2011 study found that bed-sharing does not negatively affect cognitive or behavioral development in young children. There is even evidence that safely co-sleeping has a positive affect on a child's personality. This is great news if you are sharing your bed or your bedroom with your little one.
Here are some myths about bed-sharing that are actually true, and should be taken into consideration before making the decision to bed-share.
1. You Shouldn't Bed Share If You're A Smoker
A lot of parents believe that it's a myth that smokers shouldn't bed share with their babies. Even if you only smoke outside and never in your baby's presence, Dr. Sears warned that smoke will stay in your clothing and hair. When you sleep next your baby, as Dr. Sears'ssite pointedout your baby is inhaling pollutants that stick to your body such as benzene, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, and nicotine. Additionally, babies of parents who smoke are at an increased risk of SIDS according to the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC). So if you can't quit your habit, you shouldn't share a bed with your baby.
2. Using A Comforter When Bed Sharing Is A No-No
I hear and read it all the time, "I used a comforter in bed with my baby and he turned out just fine." But those people are just very lucky. The truth is babies can get tangled in, or suffocate under comforters and heavy blankets. Just because it didn't happen to you, doesn't mean it isn't a risky behavior. Pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon recommended that babies only sleep under light blankets or a blanket sleeper. This means you will have to put away the comforter until your baby is over a year old if you plan on bed sharing.
3. You Shouldn't Bed Share With Both An Infant And An Older Child
A lot of parents are actively bed-sharing with an older child when their new baby is born. Often they bring the newborn into the bed, as well. Don't risk it. Kids Health From Nemours warned that babies should not share a bed with other children, particularly toddlers, because they aren't aware of the baby's presence while they sleep. The experts at the University of Notre Dame's Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory (BSL) agree, stating that infants under 1 year should not share a bed with other child siblings.
4. Bed Sharing In A Small Bed Is Dangerous
It seems obvious that if more people sleep in a bed, the bigger the bed should be. But, some parents are still bed sharing on a smaller mattress. Dr. Sears recommended using only a queen or king-size bed for bed sharing, this way everyone in the bed will have room to roll over safely. It also reduces the risk of rolling over on your baby or pushing your baby out of the bed accidentally.
5. Bed Sharing Puts A Damper On Your Sex Life
Sure, you can theoretically have sex anywhere else in the house, but if you're tired and busy parents, the bed is the usual go-to intimacy spot. Your sex life may begin to suffer if you have your little one in bed with you every night, according to What To Expect.
6. You Shouldn't Allow Your Pets To Sleep In Bed With You And Your Baby
So many couples sleep in bed with their pets. But this is a habit that needs to stop of you plan on bed sharing with your baby. Very Well warned parents not to allow pets to sleep in bed with your baby. No matter how tame and loving your pet is, you cannot predict how it will react when the baby arrives, especially if the baby is encroaching into its space. Those who've slept with pets know that many of them will not hesitate to try to sleep on top of you in the middle of the night. You don't want it to try that on the baby.
7. You'll Get More Sleep If You Bed Share
When a baby wakes up crying in the middle of the night, everyone in the house suffers. Mom takes the brunt of it if she's walking back and forth to the nursery several times in the night. According to Gentle Parenting, the amount of time bed-sharing babies stay awake overnight is shorter than those of babies that sleep in their own cribs, which means parents and siblings can get more sleep, too.